Are you trying to decide what the best path to form your LLC is? If so, there are a few different routes you can take.
If it’s within your budget, an LLC formation service can help you get your remote business up and running in a timely manner. However, you’ll be paying extra for a third party to fill out paperwork that you can easily do yourself. You can also hire a lawyer, but you won’t get any extra perks like you would with a formation service (i.e. registered agent and mail services). For most remote business owners, doing it yourself will be your best option, especially if you’re planning to operate within a non-regulated industry.
Let’s compare the three different ways in which you can form a single-member LLC.
1. Hire an LLC Formation Service
Unless you went to law school or were a lawyer in a previous stage of your life, taking care of legal matters can be difficult. That’s why there are services available to assist you. If you feel overwhelmed with responsibilities (maybe you already have a full-time job or side hustle or even both) and don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands, hiring outside assistance to help form your LLC may be just what your remote business needs.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a formation service is that these companies typically offer extra perks in addition to LLC formation. These services can range from simple document formation (i.e. business contracts) to more advanced things, like providing advice on legal matters. Keep in mind that these extra services can, and often do, get pricey, so you’ll want to budget accordingly.
Here are a few of the more popular LLC formation services:
Rocket Lawyer is an online company that provides legal services to small and mid-sized businesses. One of their most well-known services is LLC formation, but they offer everything from legal advice to pre-made templates for commonly utilized business documents.
Pros of Rocket Lawyer
- Custom legal contracts and documents
- Gain access to legal advice
- Excellent customer support
- You can sign up for a free 7-day trial
Cons of Rocket Lawyer
- Monthly membership is pricier than most competitors
- Without a membership, you’ll have to pay for individual services and documents
- When your subscription runs out, your forms will no longer be stored in their system
Who Should Use Rocket Lawyer?
Rocket Lawyer’s monthly membership is ideal if you want ongoing legal advice past the company formation stage. You may also find it helpful if you plan to create contracts (non-disclosure agreements, operating agreements, etc.) and wish to have these documents reviewed by a lawyer on a continual basis.
Incfile is another LLC formation service that can help you get your business up and running without the headache of doing everything yourself. Although their gold and platinum packages are on the more expensive side, they offer an affordable silver package that includes the completion and filing of your Articles of Organization.
Pros of Incfile
- Unlimited name searches
- Free registered agent service for a year (after that, you’ll pay $119 each year)
- Online access dashboard that allows you to manage everything from one place
- Tax filing services are available with their gold and platinum packages
Cons of Incfile
- You won’t have access to legal advice
- Customer support can be on the slower side
Who Should Use Incfile?
Incfile is a good choice if you want basic LLC filing plus access to features like an online dashboard, compliance alerts, and free registered agent services (note: these extra perks are dependent on which package you sign up for).
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is a registered agent company that offers several different methods of LLC formation, including a do-it-yourself version that provides you with all the state-specific information you might need.
Pros of Northwest Registered Agent
- Protects your privacy – their address will be listed on paperwork instead of your home address
- You can hire their professional services or use their resources to do it yourself
- Free registered agent service for a year (after that, you’ll pay $125 per year)
Cons of Northwest Registered Agent
- Not as much guidance as other companies if you choose to incorporate on your own
- The incorporation services are on the pricier side
Who Should Use Northwest Registered Agent?
Using a company like Northwest Registered Agent is ideal if you feel confident in your ability to form your LLC on your own, but like the idea of being able to get extra assistance if needed.
2. Hire a Lawyer
If you have questions about legal procedures or plan to operate in a regulated or complex industry like healthcare, architecture, or agriculture, hiring a licensed attorney to form your LLC might be your best choice.
This option will get you the most one-on-one help, but it’s also going to be the most expensive. Most attorneys will charge somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 to form an LLC, and that’s just for the paperwork!
Pros of Hiring a Lawyer
- They can help you identify potential issues with your products or services
- Get industry-specific advice
- Get assistance with state and county contracts, licenses, and permits
Cons of Hiring a Lawyer
- It’s the most expensive option
- You’ll still need to obtain a registered agent, separate business address, and mailbox services
Who Should Hire a Lawyer?
If your remote business involves complex assets or financing, operates in a regulated industry, or you have concerns about your industry and/or assets, you would likely benefit from hiring a lawyer. A licensed attorney can also help you navigate the different business entity structures, as well as review state laws, state agencies, state fees, and annual fees.
3. Do It Yourself (DIY)
When it comes to taking control of your budget and understanding what matters most to your remote business, forming your own LLC will always come out on top. Although the state you decide to incorporate in will determine the complexity of the process, most business owners are capable of forming an LLC on their own. Yes, that includes you!
You can find state-specific instructions on the official state websites, and any questions that may arise during the formation stage can usually be answered with a Google search. Additionally, there are dozens of websites that offer guides to LLC formation and other resources on how to start a remote business.
Pros of Doing it Yourself
- It’s the most affordable option
- You’ll have more control over the process, and in turn, know exactly what you’re paying for and what elements are needed for LLC formation (versus paying a service or lawyer to do everything for you)
Cons of Doing it Yourself
- Can be difficult if you don’t know where to start or how to obtain documents
- You might need additional help with paperwork (like your operating agreement and annual reports) or if legal compliance concerns arise
Who Should Consider this Method?
Forming your LLC on your own is best if you are starting a simple single-member LLC and don’t have any complex assets. If you’ve already done your research and have a pretty thorough understanding of how the LLC formation process works, this is a great option for you.
If you decide to go the DIY route when forming your LLC, you’ll need a registered agent, business address, and way to manage your mail remotely. With a VPM virtual mailbox, you’ll get all three! Your new commercial business address will protect your privacy since it can be used for paperwork and customer communications. You’ll also enjoy FREE registered agent services as long as you are a VPM customer, as well as access to convenient services like mail and package scanning and forwarding.
What Method Should You Choose For Your Single-Member LLC?
As you can see, not all roads to incorporating your single-member LLC are created equal. Now that you’ve explored the pros and cons of each formation method, you should feel like you’re better equipped to make a decision for your remote business.
Forming multi-member LLCs and corporations tend to involve complex paperwork and processes that often warrant outside help, like a formation company or lawyer. However, your single-member LLC can be up and running in a single afternoon if you know where to start.
Get Video Instructions on How To Form Your LLC
Need extra assistance forming your single-member LLC by yourself, but don’t want to pay for a full-scale formation service?
VPM’s TruStart course offers video lessons that provide in-depth explanations for each step of the formation process, allowing you to complete the entire process on your own through video. You’ll also get access to a community forum to ask questions and network with like-minded business owners.
What are you waiting for?