Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state.
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, you can submit an Application for Reservation of Name to reserve it for 6 months.
Filing Fee: $25
Remember, this isn’t optional in Michigan-- 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) Appoint A Registered Agent
A Michigan registered agent is required by the state to act as an intermediary of sorts. It's their job to receive and help handle/process all official paperwork like state filings, court documents, tax forms, legal notices, and so forth. This is why it's important that they're always available during regular M-F work hours and timely.
The agent can be an individual resident of Michigan or a registered business entity, but they must have a physical street address.
That said, you can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get one free when registering an LLC through IncFile. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Organization
To officially register an LLC, download, fill out and submit articles of organization with the Bureau of Commercial Services of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
This is a declarative document that announces to the state the nature of your business, your operating hours, ownership information, brand name and address, your registered agent, and other basic details for the public record.
Filing Fee: $50
Step 4) Get An EIN
Your EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique identifier like a personal social security number. But it’s not just for tax season, it also makes it possible to legally hire employees and set up a business bank account in the next step.
Almost every transaction your business engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly, easily and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
Since you’re reading this guide right now, chances are you haven't done this before.
That being the case, you may not be aware of everything involved in business banking. Where you choose to bank is critical – fees mount up, withdrawal/deposit limits are important to note, accessibility & location, credit/debit incentives, online banking options, etc. Don’t take this step lightly by any means. Shop around!
Check out this quick article on Business Checking Accounts and familiarize yourself. Also, be sure to separate your brand's account from any other accounts.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
This is another important step. But, because it's not mandatory or required by law, far too many entrepreneurs skip it during the initial founding stages.
An operating agreement is an internal document that outlines financial responsibilities, managerial duties, and the rules of operation. It also provides a layer of protection for owning parties and the LLC status of the brand.
To get started, use a savvy online template to create and customize an operating agreement for your LLC.
Step 7) Handle Business Taxes & Licensing
Michigan is a very business-friendly state and their regulatory environment can be a breeze 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 Detroit district office of the Small Business Administration, and the state's LARA LLC Business Services page because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Michigan, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services.