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Illustrations by Zooey Liao

What Is an LLC, and How Do I Start One?

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A Limited Liability Company (LLC) can be your golden ticket to financial independence, and setting one up might be easier than you think.

Although an LLC isn’t required to bring your side hustle or business idea to life, having one gives you liability protection; should your business ever go under, your personal belongings won’t be up for grabs. LLCs also you keep more of the money you earn from gigs or clients in your pocket.

“Talking to an accountant really was the transforming point for me setting up an LLC,” says Daniel Arnold, founder of Tabletop Monthly, an ecommerce company that sells expansion packs for the popular Settlers of Catan board game. Arnold had previously set up a checking account for his business, but he opened it as a sole proprietor using his Social Security number. Once his LLC was registered, his bank helped him open a new account using his Employer Identification Number (EIN) and close the previous account associated with his Social Security number, further separating business efforts from his personal assets.

For many, filing an LLC can feel intimidating because of all the business jargon. You can file an LLC yourself, hire a lawyer to help you, or use a third-party service like LegalZoom to accelerate the process.

Best pricing for simple filings
ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness
Best pricing for simple filings
ZenBusiness
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  • Price:
    From $0, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

When you’ve helped launch over 300,000 businesses, you know you’re doing something right.

ZenBusiness is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), a type of corporation that generates services that contribute to the public good, and agrees to operate sustainably and responsibly. The Austin-based company is also a unicorn, last valued at $1.7 billion in November 2021. ZenBusiness’ website includes recommended resources for women and BIPOC business owners, along with clear statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion. ZenBusiness also has an “excellent” rating on TrustPilot, based on the average of the over 10,000 reviews it has received from customers.

Most notably, however, the company’s Starter package will let you file the essentials for free, plus the cost of state filing fees.

Starter package

  • Standard filing service: ZenBusiness team will file and return your completed documents with the state.
  • Standard filing speed: ZenBusiness will process and return the completed state documents, based on when the order is received, as well as the backlog the state is working through at that time. This can range from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the state.
  • Expense and deduction tracking: Each Starter package includes a free Money Essential tool that allows customers to easily track expenses and tax deductions for improved accounting and easier tax return preparation.
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Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings
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Swyft Filings
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  • Price:
    From $49, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

Swyft Filings has helped over 250,000 business owners in all 50 states with filings since its inception in 2015. Founded by a lawyer, the company’s services assist with LLC formation, DBAs, registered agents, and S corporation elections. They also work with new and established nonprofits. Continued support or professional guidance is available after you file if you want a helping hand.

The company is focused on business filings only, and does not offer personal legal counseling. Swyft Filings has a 4.8/5 rating from over 5,300 reviews on Trustpilot, a reviews aggregator service. The company has formation-specific FAQ sections, live chat, and a toll-free phone number you can call if you want to speak to someone personally. As its name suggests, Swyft Filings’ website is lightning fast and easy to navigate.

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LegalZoom
LegalZoom
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LegalZoom
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  • Price:
    From $79, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

LegalZoom helps you set up an LLC in your state quickly, easily, and entirely online. An LLC is needed for important business functions, such as opening a business bank account. Different states have different business formation requirements; LegalZoom customizes the process for you based on what state you live in, and the company helped consumers form 447,000 businesses in 2021, according to a press release.

Mistakes can be made when trying to form an LLC by yourself, and business formation professionals can be expensive. If you want a cost-effective and convenient way to create your LLC (and keep more of the money you make from your side hustle or business when tax time rolls around), LegalZoom is a great option.

Best for step-by-step guidance
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent
Best for step-by-step guidance
Northwest Registered Agent
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  • Price:
    From $100, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

Northwest Registered Agent became popular for its $39 LLC formation service, which it offered in its early years. It’s also well known for its commitment to customer service; the company’s tagline is “We’re just not annoying”, and the website manifesto outlines the family-owned business’ commitment to communication and transparency. Northwest Registered Agent’s website makes checkout very simple, and it automatically directs you to state-specific filing details, making it easy to customize your order.

A handy feature of Northwest Registered Agent’s checkout process is that you don’t totally need to know everything you might need or want from a filings perspective when you sign up. The guided checkout process explains filings as you go, allowing you to customize your order and ensure you’ve set yourself up for success.

This no-nonsense guide will give you everything you need to know about starting an LLC.

What Is an LLC?

A limited liability company is a business formation structure unique to the United States. It’s formally known as a statutory business entity, and is the most popular business formation in America thanks to its simplicity.

An image to accompany a story about LLCs

LLCs, and their sister formation, the limited liability partnership (LLP), were created in 1977 as a way for people to limit personal liability and make filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) simpler. The technical term for this approach is pass-through entity. In an LLC, you are only taxed on your profits for federal tax purposes, and these profits receive pass-through tax treatment; they are “passed through” to owners to claim on their personal tax returns.

The biggest reason to start an LLC is liability protection. If someone were to sue a company for one reason or another, a limited liability company ensures that the owners’ personal assets cannot be seized or forfeited during litigation, even if there are unpaid business debts. As long as you keep your business and personal spending in separate accounts, legal judgments and debt collectors won’t be able to touch your house, car, or other personal property in the event your business structure goes under.

“When the pandemic arrived, all my board game purchases boomed,” says Arnold. “I had an amazing year in 2020, and realized, ‘Hey, you know what, I probably need to talk to an accountant.’ The first time I spoke with one, he basically said, ‘Why do you not have an LLC?’” Arnold already had separate bank accounts set up for his business, but hadn’t done initial business formation paperwork or created an operating agreement yet. 

Look at that — already getting into the jargon. Let’s back all the way up and establish a baseline on what having an LLC can do for you.

What Does Owning an LLC Mean?

The United States government incentivizes forming a limited liability company, because when businesses grow, they create jobs and contribute to the overall economy. LLC owners receive several money advantages, and learning how to form an LLC now can give you a confidence boost down the line.

“I was in a band in my 20s,” says Rachel Duncan, a financial wellness coach based in Colorado. “So I think I am lucky in that I learned about forming an LLC very young. I hired my CPA because I had a regular job, but now was also making money from this band. She just took me by the hand and really walked me through it.” Duncan currently has four LLCs: two for her businesses, which are art therapy and financial coaching, and two for rental properties that she owns. “It seems like every few years I’m filing a new LLC, so I feel like it’s very comfortable for me.”

Here are some of the biggest perks to setting up an LLC.

Opportunities to save money

When you have a business formation like an LLC, you are taxed on the company’s profits. Expenses you accrue to grow your passion are classified as expenses, which will reduce your taxable income. For example, if you purchase a new computer or some video equipment that will be used mainly for your side hustle, you can classify those purchases as business expenses, which will reduce your overall tax burden and create tax advantages.

Access to capital and other funding opportunities

From venture capitalists to specialized institutions and foundations, there are many ways to get low-debt or no-debt outside funding to help you get things off the ground. To be eligible for this funding, however, you almost always need proof of business activity, which will require having an LLC.

Editor’s Note: Closing The Gender Gap In Funding

Women-owned businesses produce $1.9 trillion in annual sales, but a woman’s ability to operate autonomously both in terms of personal finances and entrepreneurial funding is still recent.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 gave women the ability to open their own credit card and loan accounts. However, women were still not allowed to receive business funding because of the perception that they were “less reliable” borrowers. A woman had to have a man to co-sign their business loan up until 1988, when HR 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act, was signed into law. Since the 1970s, the number of women-owned businesses has grown by over 3,100%, but 88% of these businesses make less than $100,000 in revenue a year.

There are funding resources specifically for women entrepreneurs available at the US Small Business Administration and your local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). A searchable database of CDFIs is here.

The feeling of being “official”

There’s a saying in business: when you pay, you pay attention. The investment in making your business idea “official” may help you take it more seriously. 

“It’s kind of like playing dress up,” says Duncan. “[Having an LLC] reminds me that this work is my business, and that there’s this entity, Rachel Duncan, LLC, that I’m responsible for, and I am its employee. It just does something for me that makes me feel more professional.”

Who Should Start an LLC?

If you have a side hustle or business idea, and are getting initial traction, it may make sense to establish your LLC sooner rather than later to ensure liability protection.

“Forming my LLC was very much about owning my home,” says Shifra Nerenberg, an intuitive and tarot card reader whose company Spiral Intuitive is based out of Asheville, North Carolina. “I wanted to make sure it was separate from my business because of the work that I do, in terms of helping people directly and privately, as well as at public events. There is always some liability risk involved, especially when I’m setting up [my tent] at festivals. If my tent were to fall, or anything like that, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t jeopardizing my home and my personal assets.” Nerenberg purchased a home in 2018, but didn’t go full time with her business until 2020, having spent the previous nine years handling customer complaint calls and internal trainings. 

“The pandemic really brought home, very acutely, how toxic my old job was,” she says. “For an empath like myself, getting yelled at every day for things that I had no control over got to be too much, especially after having some time off at the beginning of the pandemic to just be home. I was like, ‘Oh, I feel so much better.’” Nerenberg says she used her downtime at the beginning of the pandemic to explore free business classes online, which helped her realize she was ready to become a full-time entrepreneur.

LLCs aren’t just limited to self-employment pursuits. Perhaps you want to form an LLC solely to protect yourself as you participate in the sublet economy and rent out real estate or other property to customers on a short-term basis. Or maybe you want to form an LLC to help teach your children about personal finance or business ownership.

What Are the Upsides and Downsides to Owning an LLC?

Pro: Liability protection

The most overt perk of a limited liability company is that your personal assets will be safe in the event that the business fails. If your business gets sued or goes under, debt collectors will only be able to seize business assets; they won’t be able to go after personal assets like your home, car, or savings and investments.

Pro: Compliance with the IRS

If you’re participating in business-related activities, you want to report this income. Some entrepreneurs are tempted to run an all-cash operation in order to hide money from the IRS. Resist the temptation to play this game; the IRS is very good at tracking down business activity, and if you’re audited and found to owe back taxes, you’ll also owe penalties on top of these taxes.

Pro: Tax write offs

In an LLC, you are taxed on net profits, which are calculated as revenue minus expenses. When you document your business expenses properly, your net profit will be lower, which means that your tax burden will also be lower. Consider working with a bookkeeper to document expenses on your behalf so you can minimize your tax burden and keep more money in your pocket.

Con: Legal jargon

LLCs aren’t complex, but they do use lots of legal terms that can feel intimidating or overwhelming to new business owners.

“I was hesitant to do the LLC formation, especially because I’m in California and all the other business tax fees that go along with that,” says Sierra Janisse, a brand and website designer and founder of Sierra Lin Design. “I was overwhelmed by the paperwork side of things.” Janisse says not having a legal background made the jargon of setting up an LLC intimidating.

“Once my business started growing, and I had a lot of clients, I thought, ‘You know, it really just makes most sense from a security perspective to have that legal protection,’” she says. “I mostly wanted to do the LLC for the general legal protection it could provide my business as I worked with more clients [and landed] bigger and bigger contracts.”

Janisse cautions against filing an LLC all by yourself if you’re unfamiliar with legalese.

“I was confused by the jargon,” she says. “I realize now that I spent a lot more time [on it] than I would have spent working with someone who understood it. I was like, ‘Articles of incorporation? What’s that? Let me Google it.’” She says that, looking back, she would have saved more time and money if she had paid for help from the start.

Con: Startup expenses and annual expenses

There will be some fees to establishing your LLC, and fees vary from state to state. In addition to initial startup costs, you may also have annual fees that are required to keep your business active in the eyes of the state. Check with your state government’s website to look up specific annual reporting requirements. For some of the most popular states, also check out these state-specific guides.

In Colorado, it’s a few clicks of a button and 50 bucks,” says Duncan of the registration process. “And then it’s 10 bucks a year [to maintain]. No big deal.”

Con: Specificity

If you’re dabbling in different pursuits, or have multiple side hustles, you need to have separate business structures for the sake of compliance and clarity with the IRS.

“I have two separate businesses of advice-giving,” says Duncan. “One field is psychotherapy, and the other one is coaching, so it’s really important that I separate them. I have liability insurance on each of them. Also, one of them might grow to where I’ve got employees down the line, and I feel like if I’m already treating these as businesses, I’m set up with the state, so if I need to scale, it will be easier.”

What If I Have Business Partners?

When you go to form your LLC, there will be a space to declare who the owners and operators of the LLC are. In legal terms, owners are referred to as members, and LLC operators, the people who will run the company, are referred to as managers.

An LLC can have as many owners as you want. If you and three business partners are incorporating, and will have equal ownership, you would identify that each of these four people will own 25% of the company. Many LLCs have just one owner; this formation is known as a single-member LLC, and if you incorporate as such, you’ll be able to file your business’ taxes along with your personal taxes all in one return by using a form called Schedule C: Profit or Loss From Business. When you do this, you’re treating your LLC as a disregarded entity for tax purposes. If you have multiple members, all members file their share of profits on their respective personal taxes each year.

Managers are the people who run the company, and while the owners are often the people running the show at first, this may not always be the case. A company may be owned by someone who is not involved in the day-to-day operations. If the owners are also the managers of the company, the company is known as a member-managed LLC. If the company is run with the owners largely out of the picture, the company is known as a manager-managed LLC.

Terminology Recap

  • Pass-through entity: a business formation in which tax payments are passed through to owners to report on their own personal tax returns.
  • Member: Another word for “owner” in LLC paperwork.
  • Manager: Another word for “operator” in LLC paperwork. This is someone who will manage the LLC from day to day, and may or may not be an owner.
  • Member-Managed LLC: An LLC in which the owners are also running the company.
  • Manager-Managed LLC: An LLC in which the owners are passive or not involved in running the company, from a day-to-day perspective.
  • Single-Member LLC: An LLC that has only one owner.
  • Disregarded entity: How the IRS classifies a single-member LLC (but not in California). This classification lets you file on your business activity as a attachment to your personal tax return, rather than having to file two sets of taxes.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): A free nine-digit number you can get from the IRS. Think of it as being the Social Security number of your business.

Is it Easy to Form an LLC?

LLC formation varies from state to state, but the process is pretty straightforward. For all states, you’ll want to complete the following steps.

How to form an LLC in 7 steps:

  1. Check that the name for your LLC is available in your state.
  2. Decide who will be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
  3. Draft Articles of Organization, or have a third-party provider do it for you.
  4. Determine your LLC’s members and managers.
  5. File your LLC with the appropriate government entity in your state.
  6. Apply for a free Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  7. Submit annual reports or updates, based on state requirements.

How to Form an LLC in 7 Steps

Step 1: Check for name availability

Your LLC cannot have the same name as another LLC in the state you are registering in. Before you get too attached to a name, do a search on the Secretary of State website for your state to determine eligibility.

Also know that, in addition to your business name, you can file for a “doing business as” name, also called a DBA. Think of a DBA as vanity license plates for your business; your business will continue to maintain its LLC name for banking purposes, but you’ll be able to market your business under your DBA name. If I established “Jenny’s Hospitality Services, LLC”, I could file a DBA of “Jenny’s Café”, and do business under that name without having to file a separate entity.

Step 2: Decide who will be your LLC’s registered agent

The government needs to be able to contact your business in the event of a subpoena, IRS correspondence, or other updates. As a result, your business needs to have a registered agent that will handle communications and filings. You can be your LLC’s own registered agent, or the registered agent can be a third-party service that you pay to handle your legal documents received via mail and some filings on your behalf. The registered agent’s physical street address will be listed in public records, which may influence your decision.

“I am a single woman living out in the country,” says Nerenberg, who opted to hire a registered agent service to conceal her home address. “Having my home address on public records, I mean, it just felt like it made more sense to pay that annual fee and have the registered agent [service] so that it was one extra level of security in terms of not having everything associated with my home address. If I should ever be subpoenaed or something, Northwest Registered Agent handles it, and then they send me an email with the information. It’s awesome.”

Related: What Is a Registered Agent?

Step 3: Draft Articles of Organization

In addition to your business name and registered agent, you’ll also need to file Articles of Organization. This is a legal document that outlines your intent to form a business entity, and most filing websites guide you through the process.

Articles of organization do not need to include an operating agreement, but if you hope to start an LLC with business partners, having an operating agreement would be a good idea. An LLC operating agreement is a written document that communicates who will be responsible for what in the business. Should you ever end up in court with your business partners, the LLC operating agreement will govern who was responsible for what. If you don’t have an agreement, it’s up to the judge.

Step 4: Determine your LLC’s members and managers

As mentioned earlier, all LLCs have one or more members and one or more managers — even if the business is a one-person show. When you form your LLC, you’ll want to declare who owns the business, as well as who is operating the business. This creates a record of the business’ management structure.

Step 5: File your LLC 

Every state has a state-specific website to file LLC formation documents. Alternatively, you can work with a third-party service that will guide you through the formation process and file paperwork on your behalf. State filing fees vary, and you may also owe franchise tax fees upfront. Check your state’s office website to double-check the official documents you need and overall LLC cost. Also factor in the cost of any business licenses you might need.

Step 6: Apply for a free Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Although this step is not technically required to submit your LLC paperwork, it’s a quick and easy step that will help you clearly draw the line between business and personal expenses. Applying for an EIN with the IRS is free, and once you have your unique 9-digit EIN, you’ll be able to use it to open business-specific accounts, apply for small business loans, and further separate your own personal assets from your own day-to-day business activity.

Related: What Is an EIN?

Step 7: Submit annual reports and updates

Once you’ve submitted your application and been approved, LLC compliance is fairly low maintenance. You’ll need to submit reports and updates at regular intervals to the state to prove that your business is still active, and these requirements vary from state to state.

Also be sure to set aside money throughout the year so you can pay self-employment taxes. Even if you are reporting your LLC activity on your personal income tax return, you’ll have to pay self employment tax on the LLC’s profits, because of pass-through taxation.

What Are the Alternatives to an LLC?

An LLC is not the only way to form a business. And in the eyes of the IRS, if you haven’t yet formed your business, but are participating in business-y, income-generating activities, the IRS will classify that income as business income and tax you as a sole proprietor (which has a higher tax rate for most). Here are other business structures that are alternatives to an LLC, depending on your ownership interests.

Sole Proprietorship

If you run a side hustle or business, but haven’t formed an entity yet, you’ll be classified as a sole proprietorship for tax reporting purposes. Sole proprietorship doesn’t offer the same liability protections; if Arnold, the board game business owner, had been sued, both his business and personal assets would have been up for grabs. Taking the time to form an LLC can give you peace of mind.

If you’re using a third-party platform to operate your side hustle, such as Uber, Instacart, or Taskrabbit, these companies usually have extensive liability protection. 

C Corporation

Another alternative to an LLC is to establish a C corporation. In this business structure, the owners of the company, known as shareholders, are taxed separately from the entity itself. In a C corporation, profits are taxed at both the corporate and shareholder levels, a setup known as double taxation.

Why would you want to be taxed twice? Since corporations have shareholders, you can raise capital for your business by selling shares of your company to investors. A workaround to double taxation is to not distribute dividends to shareholders in the first place. No dividends, no dividend tax. For most small business owners and entrepreneurs, we want our business to be able to pay ourselves and build wealth, so this isn’t ideal. 

There are strategies to reduce double taxation, such as putting shareholders on payroll instead, or paying out year-end bonuses to shareholders instead of dividends. While the bonuses will be taxed, their payouts are deductible business expenses, reducing your overall tax burden.

Can My LLC Also Be an S Corporation?

A common misconception is that an S Corporation is a type of business formation — it isn’t.

An S Corporation is a tax classification for an existing business formation. If you have a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or a C corporation, you can elect to have your business taxed as an S corporation.

In a S corporation, you have to maintain a payroll, and when you run payroll you pay various taxes. Depending on your revenue and expenses in a given year. If you are a manager in the business, you need to pay yourself a realistic salary.

If you elect to have your LLC taxed as an S corporation, you’ll need to file your personal and business taxes separately.

Related: LLC vs. S Corp: How to Ensure You Don’t Overpay on Taxes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do LLC laws vary by state?

Yes. Every state has unique guidelines for registering an LLC, though most follow a similar set of steps. Filing fee varies by state, too. Consult your state’s Secretary of State office or governing agency to figure out state-specific requirements.

How are LLCs taxed?

Limited liability companies are what is known as a pass-through entity. This means that the tax burden on company profits is passed through to the owners, who are responsible for documenting LLC profits on their personal tax returns. Tax benefits are one of the main reasons people choose to form an LLC.

Do I need insurance for an LLC?

Forming an LLC automatically gives you a layer of limited liability protection, but you may want to also purchase insurance if you have expensive equipment or want to protect your assets further.

Can children under the age of 18 have an LLC?

They can, but there are some restrictions. A child can be an owner (member) of an LLC, and they can even be the 100% owner, but a child cannot open a business bank account or sign off on certain business filings. Have an adult in the picture in the formation process. You can always change member status and bank account ownership later after the child turns 18.

How much does it cost to open an LLC?

Costs vary, and depend on the state you’re living in. Most states will have a filing fee and an annual maintenance fee. If you use a third-party registration service like LegalZoom or Northwest Registered Agent, or work with a lawyer, you’ll incur additional costs.

Start Your LLC Today

If you are even remotely interested in entrepreneurship, it’s worth your time to learn about what an LLC is, what it does, and how it can benefit you. You’ll keep more of the money  you make from your hustle, and protect yourself along the way.

Best pricing for simple filings
ZenBusiness
From $0, plus government filing fees
Jump to details
Good for Speedy Checkout
Swyft Filings
From $49, plus government filing fees
Jump to details
Best for business and personal filings in one place
LegalZoom
From $79, plus government filing fees
Jump to details
Best for step-by-step guidance
Northwest Registered Agent
From $100, plus government filing fees
Jump to details
Best pricing for simple filings
ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness
Best pricing for simple filings
ZenBusiness
Learn More externa link icon
  • Price:
    From $0, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

When you’ve helped launch over 300,000 businesses, you know you’re doing something right.

ZenBusiness is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), a type of corporation that generates services that contribute to the public good, and agrees to operate sustainably and responsibly. The Austin-based company is also a unicorn, last valued at $1.7 billion in November 2021. ZenBusiness’ website includes recommended resources for women and BIPOC business owners, along with clear statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion. ZenBusiness also has an “excellent” rating on TrustPilot, based on the average of the over 10,000 reviews it has received from customers.

Most notably, however, the company’s Starter package will let you file the essentials for free, plus the cost of state filing fees.

Starter package

  • Standard filing service: ZenBusiness team will file and return your completed documents with the state.
  • Standard filing speed: ZenBusiness will process and return the completed state documents, based on when the order is received, as well as the backlog the state is working through at that time. This can range from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the state.
  • Expense and deduction tracking: Each Starter package includes a free Money Essential tool that allows customers to easily track expenses and tax deductions for improved accounting and easier tax return preparation.
Good for Speedy Checkout
Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings
Good for Speedy Checkout
Swyft Filings
Learn More externa link icon
  • Price:
    From $49, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

Swyft Filings has helped over 250,000 business owners in all 50 states with filings since its inception in 2015. Founded by a lawyer, the company’s services assist with LLC formation, DBAs, registered agents, and S corporation elections. They also work with new and established nonprofits. Continued support or professional guidance is available after you file if you want a helping hand.

The company is focused on business filings only, and does not offer personal legal counseling. Swyft Filings has a 4.8/5 rating from over 5,300 reviews on Trustpilot, a reviews aggregator service. The company has formation-specific FAQ sections, live chat, and a toll-free phone number you can call if you want to speak to someone personally. As its name suggests, Swyft Filings’ website is lightning fast and easy to navigate.

Best for business and personal filings in one place
LegalZoom
LegalZoom
Best for business and personal filings in one place
LegalZoom
Learn More externa link icon
  • Price:
    From $79, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

LegalZoom helps you set up an LLC in your state quickly, easily, and entirely online. An LLC is needed for important business functions, such as opening a business bank account. Different states have different business formation requirements; LegalZoom customizes the process for you based on what state you live in, and the company helped consumers form 447,000 businesses in 2021, according to a press release.

Mistakes can be made when trying to form an LLC by yourself, and business formation professionals can be expensive. If you want a cost-effective and convenient way to create your LLC (and keep more of the money you make from your side hustle or business when tax time rolls around), LegalZoom is a great option.

Best for step-by-step guidance
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent
Best for step-by-step guidance
Northwest Registered Agent
Learn More externa link icon
  • Price:
    From $100, plus government filing fees
  • Additional help available:
    Yes
  • State-specific checkout:
    Yes
Overview:

Northwest Registered Agent became popular for its $39 LLC formation service, which it offered in its early years. It’s also well known for its commitment to customer service; the company’s tagline is “We’re just not annoying”, and the website manifesto outlines the family-owned business’ commitment to communication and transparency. Northwest Registered Agent’s website makes checkout very simple, and it automatically directs you to state-specific filing details, making it easy to customize your order.

A handy feature of Northwest Registered Agent’s checkout process is that you don’t totally need to know everything you might need or want from a filings perspective when you sign up. The guided checkout process explains filings as you go, allowing you to customize your order and ensure you’ve set yourself up for success.