STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, 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. In Maryland you can also reserve a trademark by filing a Trade Name Application.

Filing Fee: $25 regular, $50 expedited, $75 total expedited

STEP 2) HIRE/APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentA Maryland Registered Agent is either a resident individual or a registered business entity that receives and helps to handle/process all official documentation on your brand’s behalf – court documents, tax forms, legal notices, state filings, etc.

The agent will need to have a street address in the state and always be available during normal M-F business hours. It’s important this agent is timely and professional. You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you register an LLC through a service like IncFile or CorpNet.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCDownload a copy of the Articles of Organization which will need to be filed with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation to legally register an LLC in Maryland and become a legal entity.

This form is a declaration to the state of the basics: hours of operation, names and addresses of the company and owners, nature of the business, start-date, and so on. Nothing too complicated, but make sure you read the form carefully if you don’t have a lawyer to help or you aren’t working with a professional filing service.

Filing Fee: $100 with 3% service charge if Filed Online.

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLCYou have a social security number, right? An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is exactly like it except for businesses. The state/federal government uses it to track your business activity, but beyond that you’ll be able to use your EIN to set up a business bank account in the next step, hire employees, and more.

While there are a number of ways to get yours, it’s quick, easy and free of charge when you do it through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

To avoid any financial confusion/headaches as an LLC, open a completely separate business account for your brand. Don’t mix it with any accounts of any other kind! This is a huge mistake entrepreneurs make that’s 100% avoidable. Plus, these days there are tons of perks to opening business bank accounts. In fact, some banks will literally pay you to do business with them!

Shop around at both Maryland state and national banks to see who offers the best deal and most convenience. A great place to start is Capital One and Chase, which are both very reliable.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating AgreementWe, and endless amounts of seasoned entrepreneurs, agree that while this document isn’t mandated by the state or a legal requirement, it should be! Why? Because to be in business without one isn’t wise, even if you’re a solo act. Not only does it add a layer of legal protection for your brand (LLC status), but it also helps to deal with financial/management disputes and ensures your company is governed by your own internal set of rules rather than the default set on state books.

To get started, consider using a nifty online Operating Agreement which you can customize to your LLC.

STEP 7) HANDLE LLC TAXES & BUSINESS LICENSING

Business Licenses

The Maryland regulatory environment has modernized a fair amount over the last couple decades and it’s becoming more and more startup-friendly all the time. How complex or simple this process will be depends on a number of variables including:

  • Your specific location/county within Maryland.
  • Whether you work directly with the public.
  • The nature of your business.
  • Whether you have employees.

To get started bookmark the Baltimore district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Business Express page because they’re likely going to be go-to sources for a variety of things along the way. If you need additional help, there’s a Business License Service we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

OPTIONAL) CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanNo one’s insinuating you need a 40-page tome nailing down every tiny detail of your newly formed LLC, just the streamlined and clarified core fundamentals: marketing approach, executive summary/pitch, financials/forecasts, management/operations, etc.

During the initial stages it might not seem as critical, but recognize that there IS some kind of planning being implemented. The question is, how structured and effective is it? Then when it becomes time for funding, recognize that no serious investor, lending institution, VC, or CrowdFunding platform will take you seriously without a professional business plan to assess. Learn more in the links below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • This Planning Software Guide is our savvy breakdown of all the best user-friendly and inexpensive business planning software solutions to help you plan better. (Spoiler: LivePlan is by far the easiest to use and gives our readers a special discount.)

OPTIONAL) OPEN A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteIt’s not just about the mind-blowing marketing potential, or brand expansion, but giving both people and search algorithms an easy-optimized way of investigating your platform. Who are you? What are you about? Who are you associated with? What’s your culture and company vibe like? Where are you going?

Thankfully these days there are platforms like Jimdo, Wix, and Weebly to help entrepreneurs learn how to make a website for their businesses in far less time than it used to take. They offer one-stop-shop solutions that make it much easier to get up and running.

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 Maryland 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 Maryland or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.