STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR LLC NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, Illinois will allow you to have it reserved for 90 days by filing a Reservation of Name Application.

STEP 2) CHOOSE A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentYour Illinois Registered Agent is responsible for receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on behalf of your business like state filings, tax forms, legal notices and so forth. Here are the qualifications:

  • (1) Must be person residing in Illinois or a business entity legally registered with the Illinois Secretary of State;
  • (2) They must have a physical address, typically non-P.O. Box, where the legal notifications for the business will be sent;
  • (3) The Agent must be available at all times during regular M-F business hours.

You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified Registered Agent free of charge when you start an LLC through a filing service (like IncFile or BizFilings). They handle this along with so much more depending on the startup package you choose.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCTo legally register an LLC in Illinois, Articles of Organization must be filed with the Secretary of State that declares the basics of your business for the public record. Don’t file until you’re ready!

These include, but are not limited to: name and address of LLC, name and address of Registered Agent, LLC’s statement of purpose, LLC’s duration, among others. Illinois allows both mail and online filing.

Filing Fee: $500 for mail; $600 for online.

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLCAn EIN, or Employer Identification Number, functions much in the same way as a Social Security Number for individuals. Just as every citizen is required to get a SSN, every business is required to procure an EIN to set up bank accounts, legally hire employees, track business activity, and process taxes.

You can get an EIN rather quickly and completely free of charge through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountSetting up your brand’s business account should be the fun part. Banks and credit unions are going above and beyond to attract clients through amazing perks, benefits, and smaller fees. Be sure to shop around and see what’s available. Don’t assume where you personally bank is the best option. If you’re interested, here’s a neat breakdown of great Small Business Checking Accounts.

Speaking of which, make sure that your brand’s business accounts are completely separate from any other accounts of any kind. There should be no muddying of the financial waters. Don’t put yourself, your team and the company at risk.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating Agreement

While this internal document isn’t mandatory or a legal requirement, what it does is add a layer of safety for everyone involved (including the company) and lays out duties/responsibilities. It also, “defines each member or manager’s rights, powers, and entitlements. This includes capital accounts, membership interest, distributions of profit and allocated tax responsibility, etc.” We’d argue this should be a requirement, but the state doesn’t care if you fail due to lack of structure.

To get started, consider checking out our list of Operating Agreement Templates which you can customize yourself online.

STEP 7) HANDLE BUSINESS TAXES & LICENSING

Business LicensesUnlike setting up a bank account and swimming in perks, this part of the red tape process is where you nail down all the paperwork and fees you’ll need to take care of to get right with the Illinois regulatory environment. How simple or complex depends on a number of variables like the nature of your business, whether you serve the public, have a physical location, number of employees, etc.

To get started bookmark the Chicago district office of the Small Business Administration, and the Sec. of State’s Business Services section because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, if you need help, consider professional Business License Research packages that quickly source all needed documents for you.

OPTIONAL) CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanWhat’s the big difference between a quasi-business plan, or a plan for winging it, and a professional business plan? Well, for starters, no serious investor, lending institution, or potential partner will take you seriously unless you have a serious plan to show them. Right?

They don’t want some huge tome, but a streamlined and savvy presentation of the core fundamentals – marketing methods, financials/forecasts, management, executive summary, pitch, etc. Here’s two free resources if you’d like some help getting started:

  • Our ultimate Business Plan Tool guide breaks the best software solutions to help you strategize better.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteWebsites are never really done, they just change, evolve and adapt along with your business and the model through which it operates. What’s important is that your business has a website, maintains a digital presence and becomes the primary source where people can investigate your brand.

Business website builders like Wix, SquareSpace, and Weebly have taken the process to a whole new level. If you’re interested, check out our reviews and grab a free trial to the one that catches your eye. These three are a few of our favorite resources on building a business website.

Need Help Forming Your LLC?

Have a reliable LLC filing service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form an LLC in Illinois 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 Illinois or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.