This is the next article in the series on starting a business in Oklahoma with confidence.  The previous article outlined some of the topics that we will discuss in the upcoming posts.  Whether you finally conjure up the courage to start your dream business or are seeking to change or expand the current one, this article is for you.

A great idea is only one piece of the puzzle.  Starting a business requires a solid foundation from the get-go.  Not having a proper entity, or organizational documents to protect your personal assets can easily put a damper on your dreams.  If you are thinking about starting or growing your business entity, get in touch with our business attorneys at Niroula Law.  Our passion is helping business owners and entrepreneurs like you set up a rock-solid foundation to build your dream business.

We have put together basic steps to help new business owners as they embark on an entrepreneurial journey.  Every case is different, and your business needs are inevitably unique to the circumstances.  If you are seeking legal advice tailored to your business needs, please consult with a business attorney.

Select a legal name:  The first step is to brainstorm and select a formal legal name.  Before you commit to a name, perform an entity search on the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website.  This ensures the name is unique and not already in use.  If you have decided on the name but aren’t ready for registration, then you may reserve the name online for 60 days before the entity organization.

• Choose an entity:  The next step is entity selection.  You must be well informed on entity types to ensure a wise selection. Generally, there are five entity types: Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Corporation (C & S), and Limited Liability Company.  Consult with a business lawyer and a CPA to determine the right entity for your business.

• Purchase website domain Although not required, this is an essential step in developing online credibility in the present age of the internet and social media.  Having a good, descriptive, or unique domain can help you differentiate from the competitors.  Domain name search and registration can be performed using websites such as GoDaddy.com.

• Register with the Secretary of StateAfter the entity selection and domain name purchase, you must register the business with the Oklahoma Secretary of State.  This is done by filing a specific document with the State along with the required fee.  For example, to register a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you must file an Article of Organization with the State.  Similarly, to register a Profit Corporation, a Certificate of Incorporation must be filed.

• File trade name with the Secretary of StateAlthough this is not required, in addition to a legal name, it’s wise to register a trade name, also called a fictitious name or a DBA name.  It can be effective in informing the public about the products or services.  For example, John Smith, LLC can use the trade name of OKC Hat Gallery for a business that sells hats and other clothing articles.  Advantages of using a trade name include easier branding, consistently with domain name, flexibility, and some level of privacy.  You may file a trade name with the Secretary of State by submitting a Trade Name Report.

• File trademark with the Secretary of StateThis is also not required to start a business.  However, it’s wise to choose legally protectable names and phrases for the business and register them with the Secretary of State.  This protects you by forbidding other entities from using similar marks on their goods or services in Oklahoma.  It is accomplished by filing the completed Trademark Registration form with the Secretary of State.  However, if you plan to conduct business outside Oklahoma, then a federal trademark registration is required.  This process is longer and more expensive compared to the Oklahoma trademark registration.

• Execute organizational documents: After the business entity is registered and “alive,” it’s time to set the rules for entity operation.  For example, an operating agreement governs the internal operations of an LLC to conform with the business owner’s needs.  Additionally, it outlines the member’s ownership structure and defines the rights and duties of each member.  However, an operating agreement provides more than just the rules for the business.  It helps separate your personal assets from your business assets thereby limiting your business liability to LLC assets only.  Similarly, you would prepare and execute By-Laws, Organizational Meetings, and Minutes of Shareholders and Directors in the case of a corporation.

• Apply for FEINAlthough not required to register a business entity in Oklahoma, a Federal Tax ID number is required for other purposes.  An Employer Identification Number (FEIN) is a number used to identify a business entity, similar to how a social security number identifies a person.  FEIN is not required at the outset of entity creation; however, it is required by many financial institutions before opening a business bank account.  Plus, if you plan on hiring employees in the future, then a FEIN is required. You can hire an accountant to apply for a FEIN or do it yourself online using the IRS website.

OKC Business Law Firm: Serving All Oklahoma Residents

Starting a business is hard, we know because we have been in that position.  From coming up with a name and creating a logo to opening the doors takes meticulous planning, strategic execution, and risk-taking.  If you are in the midst of this whirlwind, we are here to help you through it.  Our passion is helping business owners and entrepreneurs select business entities, register them, and execute required documents.  Contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with a business Law Firm and speak to a business attorney.