How to form an LLC in Missouri in 6 easy steps
It’s been said that the human species has inhabited the area of what is now Missouri for over 12,000 years. With thousands of years of evolutionary advancements under its belt, the pioneering startup energy in Missouri extends well beyond its geography and into the hearts and minds of its current citizens, particularly in the area of entrepreneurial excellence.
There's a solid opportunity for starting your own business in the “Show Me State,” and for those looking to capitalize on Missouri’s knack for long-term success, starting an LLC might be the answer. The following step-by-step instruction will provide you with a high-level guide on forming an LLC and will walk you through the requirements to turn your business idea into the next great business in Missouri.
1. Check if your business name is available
When you start an LLC, the first task is to select a name for your new business. While the name you choose may or may not speak to the type of work you do, it’s important to lock in a name that’s catchy and memorable to your potential clients.
When choosing your LLC name, remember that Missouri has specific naming guidelines that you’ll need to follow. The name must be different from any preexisting business name in Missouri, and you’ll also need to include the phrase “limited liability company” or its abbreviation “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “LC,” or “L.C.” somewhere within the name. The name cannot contain the words “incorporated,” “corporation,” “limited liability partnership,” “limited partnership,” or their corresponding abbreviations. Additionally, words like “State Department,” “FBI,” and “Treasury” cannot be part of your LLC name because they might confuse your LLC with a government agency. Other words like Attorney,” “University,” and “Bank” are restricted words, meaning you can only use them if certain licensed professionals are part of your LLC and you intend to fill out additional paperwork.
If your desired LLC name meets all of the Missouri naming requirements, you’ll first want to conduct a business name search via the Missouri Secretary of State’s website to see if the name is available. If it is, awesome! You can secure your name with confidence. You may also want to register the corresponding domain name for your business to help you build your company’s website.
Another option for your Missouri LLC name is to choose a trade name—or DBA (Doing Business As)—which is a name that allows you to conduct business under a different name from the one you’re legally registering. This is useful if you’re trying to launch multiple companies under one banner. To select a DBA, you’ll need to submit a Fictitious Name Registration form to the Missouri Secretary of State online or by mail.
2. Claim your name
After you’ve chosen the name for your LLC, you’ll next want to select a Missouri registered agent—or agent for service of process—to handle all of your company’s essential legal documents, tax forms, and other governmental correspondence within the state. Your registered agent can either be an individual or a company—such as a registered agent service—and must possess a physical Missouri street address, not a P.O. box. If your registered agent is a company, it must be legally authorized to conduct business in the state of Missouri. As the LLC owner, if you meet those requirements, you can also act as the registered agent for your LLC.
Once you’ve nominated your Missouri registered agent, they can help you file your LLC Articles of Organization with the Missouri Secretary of state. You can file Articles of Organization online through the Secretary of State website, along with a $50 non-refundable filing fee. If you choose to submit your Articles of Organization by mail to the Secretary of State, the filing fee increases to $105.
The following information needs to be included in your Missouri Articles of Organization: The name of your LLC, the specific function or purpose of your LLC, the name and address for your registered agent, and the names, street addresses, and signatures for all of your LLC owners and organizers.
Suppose you operate an existing LLC in another state but now want to conduct business in Missouri. In that case, you’ll need to register as a foreign LLC and file a Missouri Application for Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company with the Missouri Corporations Division, which allows an LLC to operate as a single entity across many states. The form can either be submitted online or by mail to the Missouri Secretary of State, along with a $105 non-refundable filing fee.
3. Write your operating agreement
An LLC operating agreement is not a requirement in most states, but Missouri is one of the few states that does require one, which means more paperwork for you! The operating agreement outlines your LLC's ownership and operating procedures and the rights and responsibilities of its member. Think of the LLC operating agreement as a blueprint for your organization’s day-to-day functions and a roadmap for how you envision your LLC running in the future.
Your operating agreement also helps establish your LLC as a separate business entity from your personal assets. Without an operating agreement, you might encounter legal snafus should your LLC ever become embroiled in a lawsuit. Additionally, the vision you had for your LLC would be subject to Virginia state LLC laws instead of what would have been outlined in your operating agreement.
Contained within your operating agreement should be the following information: The name of your LLC, the service your LLC provides, the name and address of each LLC owner and manager, the principal office and office address for your LLC, whether your LLC is single-member or multi-member, the process for bringing on new business owners, the process for electing a new LLC manager, ownership transfers when a partner leaves the LLC or is deceased, the procedure for scheduling meetings, the guidelines for dissolving the company, and an outline of the financial contributions, profit share, voting rights, and stake in the LLC for each owner.
4. File your Statement of Information
Okay, okay. So you had to knock out some additional paperwork. But Missouri does not have a Statement of Information—or annual report—for you to file. That’s huge! While you may have had to spend some extra minutes drafting your operating agreement, you’re now saving time and money by not having to fill out any annual forms to pay the state of Missouri any annual fees.
5. Pay your taxes
Paying taxes isn’t something you’ll be doing at the onset of your LLC’s formation, but it is something you’ll be doing by year’s end and each ensuing year after that. How you’re taxed depends mainly on how your LLC is structured, and your business accountant or tax professional should be able to advise you on which business structure is most beneficial to your specific LLC.
You have the option of having your LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship or as a C corporation or S corporation. In the case of the corporate designation, you’ll need to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number—or EIN—through the Internal Revenue Service to pay your taxes and for other tax purposes.
Your Federal Employer Identification Number—also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number— acts like a Social Security Number for your LLC and is how the IRS monitors your business’s financial activities and income tax reporting. Obtaining your Federal Employer Identification Number is free, and you can by mail or online via the IRS website.
Applying for a Federal Employer Identification Number also allows you to open your LLC's credit card or bank account. To do so, you’ll need:
- Your Federal Employer Identification Number
- Your Articles of Organization
- Your driver’s license
A business bank account is essential to running a successful LLC because it helps keep your business transactions separate from your personal transactions, making it harder to mix them together. A business bank account and business credit card also help keep all of your LLC transactions in one place, making it easier to organize and compile all of your important financial documents for your tax returns. Should you ever be involved in a lawsuit or be taken to court, having a business bank account—in addition to your operating agreement—can also help mitigate any case against you by demonstrating that your LLC is a separate entity and unaffiliated with your personal assets. Again, consult your business accountant or tax professional for advice on which type of business bank account is most suitable for your LLC’s specific operation.
6. Wrap up other regulation and sales tax requirements
High-fives all around! You’re putting the finishing touches on your LLC formation process and should be pretty pleased with your efforts thus far.
But before you bask in the glory of being Missouri’s newest LLC owner, be sure to investigate which Missouri state business licenses and permits are necessary for you to obtain for your specific type of work.
Missouri does not have a universal business license, but certain businesses in select industries might require local permits, which you can secure from the local government office. Consult the city or town clerk where your LLC is based for more information on which specific licenses and permits may apply to your LLC. You can also consult the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website for help understanding permits and licensing rules and to answer any FAQs.
Just 2 more tasks before you’re running the business of your dreams. Next, you’ll want to identify the types of Missouri taxes you’ll need to pay by year-end. For example, if your LLC is planning to sell physical items or services, you’ll have to register with the Missouri Department of Revenue to collect sales tax.
If you have employees, you’ll need to register for Employee Withholding Tax through the Missouri Department of Revenue and Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Missouri Department of Labor. You’ll need to report all new hires to the state and fill out Form 1040 Schedule C if you’re a single-member LLC or Form 1065 Partnership Return if you’re a multi-member LLC. Ultimately, you should consult your business accountant or tax professional to help you determine which licenses, permits, taxes, and state fees and state laws apply to your LLC so that nothing slips through the cracks. If you fail to file any of your Missouri state filings on time, your LLC can face fines or even automatic dissolution by the state, so you or your registered agent must stay on top of your year-end bookkeeping process.
The last housekeeping item you’ll want to explore before launching your LLC is small business insurance. Small business insurance keeps you and your business legally protected from the unexpected, which helps put your mind at ease knowing you can spend more time growing your LLC and less time navigating potential legal headaches. While there are many insurance options for your LLC, the following are three of the most common types of insurance that could address most of your LLC’s needs:
- General Liability Insurance: This general policy offers a wide range of liability protection from potential lawsuits to you and your LLC.
- Professional Liability Insurance: Professional service providers such as consultants or accountants are the primary beneficiaries of this policy since it helps cover against different types of business errors and malpractice.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Provides coverage to your employees in the event of illnesses, on-the-job injuries, or even death. If you employ five or more employees in Missouri, you'll be required to purchase workers' compensation insurance.
You may also want to consult your business accountant for advice on the other types of business insurance that might be relevant to your specific LLC’s operation. They can also ensure your LLC remains compliant with all federal tax and state tax laws and filing requirements.
Get LLC insurance in minutes by following these steps
Choosing the right business insurance for your LLC can be an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be.
That’s where Huckleberry can help. Huckleberry is a quick and easy solution for all your business insurance needs, making purchasing business insurance simple. Here’s how you can get started:
- Go to Huckleberry.com and choose the “Instant Estimate” option. We’ll then provide you with quotes for LLC insurance and other types of coverage designed to meet the needs of your specific LLC.
- Input the type of work your LLC is involved in, which helps Huckleberry customize your insurance options.
- Answer a few basic questions about the nature of your company, helping Huckleberry tailor its insurance option results to only those that can directly benefit your LLC.
- After a few short minutes, you’ll receive a quote containing customized small business insurance options.
- The Huckleberry workers’ comp calculator provides an accurate cost estimate for workers’ comp.
And just like that, you’ve established a brand new Missouri limited liability company! Before you start advertising your business across the midwest, don’t forget to secure a quality business insurance policy to keep you, your assets, and the future of your LLC safe and protected.
For all things business insurance, Huckleberry has you covered. In less time than it takes to purchase St. Louis Cardinals tickets, Huckleberry can provide you with a multitude of insurance quotes and policy options that will protect your LLC now and in the ensuing years to come.