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7 Steps to Keep Your Small Business in Compliance

Once you’ve incorporated your small business, what else needs to happen to keep your company running smoothly? Here’s a guide to what every small business owner must do to stay in compliance with government guidelines.

Once you’ve chosen the business you want to start and have secured funding for your new venture, the next step is incorporating your business. But once you’ve selected your business entity, what comes next? What else does your company need to file in order to do business and stay in compliance? If you’re in need of a guide that tells you what to do next, here’s are some of the small business musts you need to focus on accomplishing.

1. Prepare bylaws or an operating agreement.

If you incorporated as an LLC, you’ll want to draft an operating agreement. While these documents are generally not required by most states, having a written operating agreement ensures that the LLC is conducted the way you want, prevents financial and management disputes, and helps protect your limited liability status.

Corporations have bylaws, which are the rules and regulations of your corporation. Some topics that bylaws must include are the functions of each corporate officer, how meetings are called and conducted and shareholder voting formalities.

2. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Filing for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), or federal tax ID, gives your business the ability to open up a business bank account, hire employees and establish a credit profile. If you don’t feel comfortable using your social security number on all of your official documents, you may use your EIN instead. This ID is much less sensitive to use and helps to safeguard against identity theft.

3. Register your trademark.

If your business has a unique name, logo, slogan or design, the best way to protect those assets is to file a trademark application. By registering the mark, you will be able to protect your identity and keep copycat businesses from plagiarizing it. Don’t forget to conduct a search before filing to make sure that your ideas are indeed unique and that there are no other pending applications similar to your own.

4. Figure out which business licenses you’ll need.

Your location, industry and entity type will ultimately determine which business licenses are required by your city or state.

5. File for a Doing Business As name (DBA).

Even though it sounds similar, a Doing Business As name is different from filing a trademark. The trademark protects the name of your business while a DBA is the official registration of your business name. By filing a DBA, you can open up a business bank account and accept payments under an alternate business name.

6. Stay on top of your annual maintenance.

If you incorporated as an LLC or corporation, you must file an annual report in order to stay in compliance. This report includes basic information including the name of the business, its address and its registered agent. Document any changes made in the corporation or LLC and update your operating agreement or bylaws to reflect any new partners, members or investors involved with the business.

7. If you plan to expand your business…

Planning to expand your business outside of its home state? Whether you plan to do this now or later down the line, file to qualify as a foreign entity in order to do business there.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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