Legally Creating a Business

Legally Creating a Business

Practically speaking, the first step in starting a business is deciding what your business will be. For example, will the business provide a good (product) or service, or some combination of goods and services?  What will set your business apart from other businesses out there? What is your vision? Will you start and run your business on your own or with other people? 

Legally speaking, "starting a business" generally means picking the name of and entity for your business (e.g., sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation), and filing paperwork (if need be) with the Illinois Secretary of State. After you establish the business name and "entity type," your business can, for example, have a bank account in its name and a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). 

After the business is legally formed, it's a good idea to search for the business using Illinois Secretary of State's "Corp/LLC Search" tool. By using this search tool, you can double check the spelling of the business name, the address, registered agent, and other information to make sure it matches up with what you remember putting on the application form.

If you decide to change the business name after registering with the Illinois Secretary of State, then you can easily do so without starting the process all over. To create an Assumed Name (otherwise known as "doing business as" or "d/b/a"), you fill out an Assumed Name form for the business entity type. For example, if the business is an Illinois LLC, then the business owner would fill out Form LLC-1.20 and pay the filing fee. 

Practice Pointer:

You will need the file number and, for example, formation date on other paperwork in the legal process of setting up your business, so I recommend printing out a hard copy of the page that appears when you click on the business from the search results and to save it to your computer for your records. 

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