Step 1) Verify & Secure Your LLC Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in SC, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the Sec. of 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 file an Application to Reserve Name form with the Sec. of State that's good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $25
Remember, this isn’t optional in South Carolina-- 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 South Carolina Registered Agent performs “service of process”, or in other words, they’re responsible for receiving and helping process important documents like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, etc. on behalf of your LLC.
The agent can be an individual resident or a domestic/foreign business entity registered with the state. A physical street address is also required.
You can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get your agent free when you register an LLC with a filing service like IncFile. They handle this and more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Organization
To be a legal business entity you must download, print out, complete and file the Articles of Organization with the Sec. of State. Don't file until ready. It's a declarative official document for the public record that discloses the basics of your brand including:
- Name and address of the South Carolina 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: $110
Step 4) Get An EIN
Your EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a federal identifier similar to a social security number for individuals.
You’ll need it to handle a good portion of and process your taxes, to set up your business bank accounts, hire employees, etc. Thankfully it’s very easy to get one and set up in “the system.”
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
As a new business owner in South Carolina, you need to keep your business and personal finances separate by opening a separate bank account. This keeps everything clean and tidy for yourself, your team, and relevant governing agencies.
Another important thing to note is that opening a business account can help you keep finances on track; monitor the ins and outs, and put the profits/assets where they belong. There are many options available so check out this quick outline of the best mainstream Business Checking Accounts to get started.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
An LLC Operating Agreement is a document that outlines the managerial and financial responsibilities of each of the members of the LLC.
It also sets down on paper the percentages of ownership, each member’s share of profits or losses, and how the business will be handled should a member leave. So while this isn’t mandatory or required by the state, we highly advise you to draft one even if you’re a solopreneur.
To get started, consider checking out this savvy list of LLC Operating Agreement templates which you can customize yourself online.
Step 7) Handle Relevant Taxes & Licensing/Permits
These days it’s fairly simple to set up your brand’s tax identity with the state and federal government.
It begins with registering an EIN and then depending on the nature of your business there will be an assortment of other steps you’ll need to take. After that, you'll need to handle any licenses or permits required by the state.
To get started bookmark the Columbia district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Dept. of Commerce page because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, check out Business License Research packages that can handle the legwork.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in South Carolina, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services.