STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR LLC NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in PA, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the Sec. of State, and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Your name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, you can file a Name Reservation form (DSCB:15-208) at the PA Dept. of State that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $70

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A Pennsylvania Registered Agent acts on your half to officially receive and help process important documentation like state filings, tax forms, legal notices and so on. They must be a resident of the state or a corporation, either domestic or foreign, with a physical street address, authorized by the Sec. of State.

You can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a certified agent free when you start an LLC with a service like IncFile or BizFilings. They handle this and more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCEither download the Certificate of Organization (Form DSCB:15-8913) for a domestic LLC, or the appropriate form for your LLC structure, and file it with the Dept of State. It’s a declarative document for the public record disclosing some basics of your brand. Note: your Certificate should be submitted along with a New Entity Docketing Statement (Form DSCB:15-134A).

  • Complete LLC name and address,
  • Complete name of registered agent,
  • Complete name and address of LLC organizers,

LLC Filing Fee: $125

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit federal identifier similar to a social security number for individuals. You’ll need it to process/handle a good portion of your taxes, to set up business bank accounts, legally hire employees, etc. Thankfully it’s very easy to get one and set up in “the system.”

To get your free EIN number, you can print out and mail in This IRS Form or apply online using the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Firstly, don’t just assume where you bank personally is the best choice to establish your brand’s financial foundation. How much do you know about business checking and savings accounts in terms of perks, incentives, kickbacks, etc? How many different local, state, and national banks and credit unions have you investigated?

Don’t jump the gun here! This is critical. The savings per year from one bank to the next, relative to their other services, is important to research. If you’re interested, check out this Business Checking Accounts breakdown from some of the bigger mainstream banks for starters.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating Agreement

While this isn’t required for Pennsylvania LLCs, it’s highly recommended you draft one whether you’re a solopreneur or part of a partnership/team. An LLC Operating Agreement is a vital document that sets down on paper internal managerial/financial duties and responsibilities along with basic operating rules – profit sharing, ownership percentages, etc.

Furthermore, if there’s a dispute it can be handled according to your own operational rules vs. the default state rules which take over if there isn’t an operating agreement in place. To get started, consider checking out this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) COVER ALL LLC TAXES & LICENSING/PERMITS

Small Business Taxes

Set up shop the right way. This is where having an attorney (the best one you can afford) or working with a professional incorporation service really comes in handy! Make sure to register with the PA Dept of Revenue (DOR). You can register online at Pennsylvania’s Revenue e-Services Center or send your PA-100 Form through postal mail.

You might also want to bookmark the Pittsburgh district office of the Small Business Administration and state’s SBDC page as well because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. If you’re going to need customized help, consider professional Business License Research packages that quickly source documents and provide filing instructions.

OPTIONAL) BUILD YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanListen, if this is more than a “pet project” and there’s a real vision on the table, start seriously planning out the core fundamentals: marketing approach, competitive analysis, budgeting, milestones & metrics, problem & solution, etc. And no, you don’t have to have an MBA or be a seasoned entrepreneur to get this done and initially set up.

These days it’s all about software. Sleek, step-by-step, and beginner-friendly, you end up with presentation-ready plans you can optimize over time and when needed show to VCs, lending institutions, potential partners and stakeholders, and so on. You get the idea. Learn more in the links below.

  • 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) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

All websites eventually grow and evolve over time. Or, at least they should in response to the growth of inbound leads/traffic, content, and your overall digital presence. The question is, are you a designer or have one in-house? If not, you might be wondering where to turn to set up shop.

A couple of the biggest platforms you can get started on right away are Wix and Weebly. We’ve tried out both and highly recommend checking them out. Check out both reviews to see which is right for you. If you’re still unsure, feel free to browse our business website builder overview for the top options.

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