How to Form an LLC in Colorado 5 Simple Steps

Use A Professional Service

A professional service will handle the entire formation process on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

4.7 out of 5 starsIncFile ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick LLC formation.

3.6 out of 5 starsLegalZoom ($79 + state fee) for the most popular LLC service available.

Form an LLC

Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name

Choose a Business NameFirst off, in order to launch a successful Colorado LLC, you need to give it the right name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes. We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide, but we’ll go over the legal basics below.

Legally, your business name must:

  • Contain the words limited liability companylimited company, or the abbreviation LLC or L.L.C.
  • Not contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without the proper approval.
  • Be distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Colorado.

For a complete list of naming rules you can visit the Colorado Secretary of State website.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a name that captures your brand, don’t let that stop you from forming your LLC. For now, you can focus on the legal requirements and consider applying for a trade name after you’ve nailed down your branding.

What To Do:

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to call your LLC in Colorado, do a business name search to find out whether or not it’s in the cards. If your business name is available, you’ll be able to lock it down when you file your Articles of Organization.

Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you should see if there’s a decent URL available. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon.

Step 2) Appoint a Colorado Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentWhen you file your Articles of Organization, you will be asked to appoint a Colorado registered agent.

Your registered agent will be responsible for receiving important legal documents like tax forms and service of process notices on behalf of your LLC. Your registered agent can be an individual resident of the state or a company that’s legally authorized to represent businesses in Colorado.

Colorado does give you the option to act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to appoint a professional instead. Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own:

  • You’ll have to maintain normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide.
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll be required to make your personal address public.
  • You must keep up on important notices, dates, and deadlines.
  • You could be served in front of your family or coworkers.
What To Do:

If you’re considering acting as your own registered agent, do some research, starting with our registered agent guide. If you decide you’re up for the task, go ahead and list your own name and address on your Articles of Organization.

If you’re leaning toward hiring a professional, we recommend doing so through an online LLC formation service. Many of these companies (like IncFile) offer up to one year of registered agent service free when you form your LLC with them.

 

Step 3) File Articles Of Organization

Register an LLCYour Articles of Organization must be filed with the state of Colorado to establish your business as an official LLC. The document will ask for some key pieces of information, including:

  • The name and purpose of your business
  • Your registered agent’s name and street address
  • The name and mailing address of the individual forming the LLC
  • The management structure of the LLC

These are the basics, but we highly recommend checking out the detailed instructions on the Colorado Secretary of State website.

Luckily, you can take care of the entire filing process online. Simply head over to the SOS business filing page, choose "limited liability company" link, enter your preferred business name and go from there. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to submit a $50.00 filing fee!

 

What To Do:

If you’re looking for a zero-hassle option, you might seek out the help of an online business formation service. They’ll take the reigns on the formation process and make sure your Articles of Organization are filed perfectly. Most of these companies also offer other helpful services for newly formed businesses, like registered agent services, extra document filings, corporate kits and much more. Take a look at our top 7 business filing services to find out about our favorite providers’ pricing and features.

Quick Note: You’ll have to submit an initial report within 6 months of your business’ formation, and an annual report each year. If you choose to file on your own, make sure to mark the deadlines on your calendar! It’s really easy to forget this step, so we love that most online formation services notify you ahead of time.

 

Step 4) Draft an Operating Agreement

Create an Operating Agreement

Creating an LLC operating agreement is the only way for you and your members to fully define your roles and lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will also give you all something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • each member’s responsibilities
  • how new members will be admitted
  • how existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • how profits and dividends are to be distributed

From there, you can add as many provisions as you want, provided they are not in conflict with Colorado business law. To access a free operating agreement and learn more about how this document works in Colorado, click here.

 

Step 5) Obtain EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLCThe Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is essentially a social security number for your company. State and federal agencies use this number to track your business activity.

 

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

We think the best way to get an EIN is by using the free online application on the IRS website. We prefer this method because it’s the most efficient, but if you’d prefer to apply via phone, fax or mail, read through our guide to find out how.

 

Maintain Your LLC's Personal Asset Protection

Best Business Bank Account

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Get $300 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Reduce the Liability of Your LLC

Business Insurance

Business insurance helps you manage risk and focus on growing your business. Carrying the right coverage protects your LLC from liability and keeps you safe in the event of a loss.

The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers claims of malpractice and other business errors.

If you plan to hire employees, you might also be required to invest in Workers' Compensation Insurance. This type of policy provides coverage for employee job-related illnesses, injuries, or loss of life.

There are free services available that quickly assess your business’s insurance needs. These services suggest customized policies with various insurance carriers so that you can choose the best value. One such reliable and respected service is Coverwallet.

Labor Law

You can reduce your LLC’s liability by being fully compliant with employer laws such as:

  • Verifying new employees are allowed to work in the US.
  • Reporting employees as "new hires" to the state.
  • Withholding employee taxes.
  • Printing compliance posters and placing them in visible areas of your workspace.

If you plan to hire employees, you might also be required to invest in Workers' Compensation Insurance. This type of policy provides coverage for employee job-related illnesses, injuries, or loss of life.


Find out more information on the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website.

Stay Compliant

Business LicensesColorado doesn’t issue general business licenses, but there are quite a few instances that call for specific permits, licenses and taxes at a local, state or federal level. Here’s a list of key resources for each:

  • Federal: The Small Business Association website has tons of helpful information on federal tax requirements and federal licenses and permits. The business taxes page on the IRS website is also an excellent resource.
  • State: You can apply for state-specific permits and licenses via the CO Department of Regulatory Agencies. They provide a list of all the professions that require specific licensing and direct you to the corresponding application and other resources.
  • Local: For municipal tax and licensing requirements, contact your local chamber of commerce.

Keep in mind that LLCs are considered pass-through entities, so the responsibility of paying federal taxes on the profits falls directly upon LLC members. Some states impose separate taxes on LLCs, but Colorado doesn’t!

 

What To Do:

If you’re feeling intimidated by this, a business license service is a great solution. They’ll determine everything that’s required of your business on a federal, state and local level, get the forms for you and even provide filing instructions!

Reduce Administrative Burden

There will be many demands on your time once you start your business. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to streamline your workflow and reduce administrative overhead from the get-go. The two most important business tasks to get help with are:

1) Accounting

Getting your books in order right up front will save you headaches in the future. At the very least, you can have a professional setup your bookkeeping and accounting for you. This will save you money and time in the long run.

There are all in one services that will do your bookkeeping/invoicing/tax filing for you all for one monthly fee. Mazuma ($95/month) is a reliable all in one tax service.

2) Employee Payroll

If you have employees, a payroll service will save you a lot of time and also save you from having to become an expert on state compliance or employee tax withholdings and filings.  

Gusto is a reliable and good payroll service for small businesses.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

How To Form An LLC Online

If you’ve got too much on your agenda to worry about all the paperwork and state-requirements, there are a handful of LLC formation services that can take care of everything for you.

Here are the two most popular:

– IncFile ($49 + state fee) = Best Price & Overall Value

– LegalZoom ($79 + state fee) = Best For Brand Recognition

Note that this guide for forming a Colorado LLC isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in Colorado, consult with a business attorney.