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
This is one of the more fun steps to take because you get to see what sorts of perks, bonuses, and advantages banks/credit unions are offering for your business account. Make sure to do your homework. Don't just set up shop where you already conduct personal banking because they may not have the best deals by a long shot.
That said, it's absolutely critical that your brand's finances are separated from any and all other accounts. It should be a single stream funneling into your accounting software. To start brushing up, check out this Checking Accounts article that breaks down some of the basics.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
This is a document that our readers, plenty of experts, and ourselves advise you think about creating. It’s not mandatory or a legal requirement, but 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.” It's about being professional and building structure.
To get started, consider checking out this list of Operating Agreement templates which you can customize yourself.
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 her 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.