Step 1) Verify & Secure Your LLC Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it should be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording.
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, a Business Name Reservation application can be submitted to the Montana Secretary of State for as well.
Filing Fee: $10 with Expedition Options
Remember, this isn’t optional in Montana-- 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 Montana Registered Agent or an "Agent for Service of Process" acts as an intermediary who receives and helps to process all official documents on your brand's behalf like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, and so on.
The agent can either be an individual living in Montana, a Montana company, or a foreign company registered in Montana with a physical location/street address.
You can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you start an LLC through IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Organization
To legally register a Domestic LLC, download a copy of the Articles of Organization which must be filed with the Montana Secretary of State.
The document declares to the state for the public record the nature of your business, hours of operations, name and address, ownership information, and other basic details that should be ironed out before taking this step. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and don't be afraid to reach out for help.
Filing Fee: $70
Step 4) Get An EIN
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is like a Social Security Number for businesses so the state/federal government can keep track of your business activity.
You'll need one to set up a business bank account, legally hire employees and handle other tax-based steps over time.
There are several ways to obtain an EIN, but the most convenient (and FREE) way is to submit an online application through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
Since you're reading this guide, chances are it's your first time establishing a new company so you may not be aware of everything involved in business banking. Where you choose to bank is important - fees, withdrawal/deposit limits, accessibility, location, credit/debit incentives, online banking options, etc. Don't take this step lightly.
If you're interested, this article takes a good look at Business Checking Accounts and what makes them appealing for small businesses. Shop around!
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
What is an operating agreement? Well, firstly, it's not mandatory or a legal requirement but rather an internal document for you and your team.
However, it could be used in court because of signatures and even if you're a solopreneur it helps to protect your LLC status. What it lays out are the rules of operation, managerial duties and financial obligations, etc. It's foolish to run a business without at least a basic draft.
To get started, look into using an Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself online.
Step 7) Handle LLC Taxes & Licensing
The regulatory environment in Montana is nice and startup-friendly, but the complexity of this step is going to depend on a number of obvious variables like whether or not you'll have office space or be opening up a restaurant, how many employees you have, whether state or local government agencies are involved in the nature of your work, and so forth.
To get started bookmark the Helena district office of the Small Business Administration and the Sec. of State’s Business Services page because they’re likely going to be go-to sources along the way. 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 Montana, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services available.