Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand 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, file an Application for Exclusive Use of Corporate Name form to reserve the name for 120 days.
Filing fee: $20
Remember, this isn’t optional in Indiana-- it’s mandatory.
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Choose A Registered Agent
An Indiana Registered Agent is an individual or recognized/registered business entity in the state with a physical street address (typically non-P.O. Box) responsible for receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents like state filings, legal notices, important tax forms, etc.
That said, you can hire a third-party service and pay up to $160 a year or get an Indiana Registered Agent free of charge when you start an LLC through a formation service.
Step 3) File Articles Of Organization
Articles of Organization must be filed through the Indiana Business Services Division under the Secretary of State's office to legally register an LLC in Indiana. When you're ready download the form, read it carefully and understand it, fill it out appropriately and then submit with the filing fee.
Note: If an "Application for Exclusive Use of Corporate Name" form was filed to reserve the name, then it should also be attached to the Articles of Organization. You can submit through either mail or the state's online application system.
Filing Fee: $90
Step 4) Get An EIN
In the same exact way American individuals must have a social security number, all legal Indiana businesses must have an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. It's used by state/federal agencies to track your business activity and make it possible for you to hire employees, set up official bank accounts, pay taxes and so forth.
While there are others ways to apply, you can get your EIN free or charge, quick and easy directly through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
Now that you’ve got your EIN in tow and your members’ roles all sorted, it’s time to set up a business bank account.
Even if you’re running an SMLLC, this is still a necessary step — mixing personal and professional expenses never goes well. Plus, as soon as you open your business bank account, you’ll be able to start:
- Protecting your personal assets
- Taking advantage of waived fees and other perks of business banking
- Properly managing your finances in preparation for tax time
Remember to use your EIN, not your social security number, to open your business bank account. This way it’ll be completely separate from your personal finances.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is a formal contractual agreement among all owners (members) of an LLC that outlines financial and managerial responsibilities. It’s not legally required, but it’s in the best interest of your business to have one in place. It’ll help you protect your brand, your fellow members and your assets — and yes, even solopreneurs should have one.
To get started, consider using a free customizable operating agreement template!
Step 7) Handle Indiana Business Taxes & Licensing
Indiana is a very business-friendly state and their regulatory environment can be a cake walk for most small brands setting up shop within its borders. How complex or simple it will be, and how much red tape is involved ultimately depends on the nature of your business, how many employees you have, whether you work with the public, specific location, and so on.
Bookmark the Indianapolis district office of the Small Business Administration, and the Business Services Division's guide because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all documents for you.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Indiana, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services available.
- IncFile LLC Review: Pricing starts at $49 + state fee. Best for basic & quick LLC formation.
- LegalZoom LLC Review: Pricing starts at $79 + state fee. Best if you're looking for the most popular LLC service.