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 in RI, 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,  you can file a Reservation of Entity Name form with the Sec. of State Corporations Divisions that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $50

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentYour Rhode Island Registered Agent is an individual or recognized business entity in the state with a 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. One is required to legally conduct business.

That said, you can hire a third party service and pay up to $160 a year or get a qualified agent free of charge when you form an LLC through a service like IncFile or Incorporate.com.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCDownload, complete, and file Articles of Organization with the Sec. of State when you’re ready. It’s an official declarative document that discloses some of the very basics of your brand for the public record including:

  •  Name and address of the Rhode Island LLC;
  •  Full name and address of the LLC’s Registered Agent;
  •  Full name and address of each of the LLC’s organizer;
  •  Note whether the LLC will be manager or member managed;

Filing Fee: $150

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

In Rhode Island, as in just about everywhere else in the nation, your company needs an EIN or FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) to legally conduct business, process taxes, hire employees, set up business bank accounts, etc. It’s not optional in the same way it’s not optional for individuals to have a social security number. Make sense?

While there are other ways to apply, you can get your EIN free or charge, quick and easy directly through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) CREATE A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

How familiar are you with the perks, bonuses, incentives, and advantages of business banking vs personal banking? There are tons of options with local, state, and national banks/credit unions so make sure you take some time to research. Don’t just establish your brand’s financials where you already conduct personal banking because they may not be ideal.

And another point, it’s essential that your brand’s finances are separate from any and all others. You should have a single branded stream funneling into your accounting software. If you’re interested, this Checking Accounts article breaks down some of the basics.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN LLC OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating AgreementIt’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 into your goals.

To get started, check out this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) COVER ALL LLC TAXES & LICENSES/PERMITS

Small Business TaxesIt’s your responsibility to pay Rhode Island business taxes and handle licenses and permits. There are a number of them involved based on the kind of business you’re in, among other considerations. To begin completing the requirements for business taxes, register online at the RI Division of Tax Online Registration Service.

Bookmark the Providence district office of the Small Business Administration, and the Rhode Island SBDC because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. If you need help with this step, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you and provide filing instructions.

OPTIONAL) START YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanNo matter what startup stage you’re in, in terms of actual products/services development, if you plan on going “all the way” then you’re going to need to get down to some basics are plan accordingly. No serious business gets to genuine heights without a game plan. That’s the honest truth.

What does this mean? It means a presentation-ready plan that focuses on the core fundamentals of the brand for the purposes of showing VC-types, lending institutions, potential partners and stakeholder, and these days opportunities like Crowdfunding platforms. Just to name a few.

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) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

The last thing we want to touch on in this guide is building a constructive and useful website for your brand. It’s essential if you want to be taken seriously. 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.

If you’re interested, check out both of our 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. Regardless, whichever platform you choose, you’ll be in good hands.

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