Getting my business going in ‘08

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I had two goals this year:

  1. Get my LLC
  2. Tighten up my finances
  3. Accept credit cards.

Yeah, I know that’s 3. I’m trying to be an over achiever here.

Because I’m lucky enough to live in the great state of Arizona I had two benefits on my side. First, Arizona loves business (unlike California which seems to want to run everyone and everything out). Filing for an LLC is only $50 (versus $800 per year in California) and to get it expedited (highly recommended) is an additional $35.

Here’s how you get it done in Arizona. You can maybe adapt these instructions to your own situation and save getting taken for a ride by companies like LegalZoom.com. As with all the other instructions I’m giving you, it’s best to contact a lawyer and an accountant to make sure you do it right.

  1. First off, go to the Arizona Corporation Commissions website and download the forms.
  2. The forms you will want will be located under the section Limited Liability Companies
  3. Your going to want the following forms: ll0001, ll0004 and under the New Filings section you’ll want the Cover Letter (Form CFCVLR)
  4. Fill out form CFCVLR. It’ll do the math for you so don’t worry about that. Be sure to check new filing and expedite for a total of $85.00.
  5. Check the Box for New Entity.
  6. Type in your new companies name
  7. check Articles of Organization (LLC)
  8. Check Expeditied
  9. Your probably paying by check so check Check
  10. Fill out other spaces as you feel necessary
  11. Be sure to check something in #8
  12. Fill out #10 as well.
  13. Form #LL0004 is the form you fill out and file with the Corporation Commission of Arizona. I opened mine in Illustrator and filled it out in it so it’d be nice and neat. I have terrible handwriting and I didn’t want to have that cause a delay (or worse, having to refile and pay more money) in getting it processed. This form is very simple though and almost anyone can do it.
  14. First, you check whether your a Limited Liability Company or a “Professional” Limited Liability Company. Most likely, your the former. However, if you have a job that has to be licensed by the State (Realtor, Lawyer, Doctor, something like that but not limited to that) then you will choose the latter.
  15. Put your companies name on the form. BE SURE TO INCLUDE LLC, L.L.C., etc. If you reserved your name in advance, put the reservation # in blank A.
  16. In blank 2, Known Place of Business, put the physical address of your business. It can not be a PMB.
  17. For blank 3, The name and address of the statutory agent. This person or business needs to be in Arizona. Plus, it can be you. Unless you want to pay someone to be your agent, or get a family or friend to do it, just pick yourself. You’ll save some money. From what I understand, that Agent basically accepts the summons or whatever in case your company gets sued. I haven’t been told of a benefit of having someone else be the agent for you. It can be changed at any time. And, if someone out there knows of a benefit, please let me know. I’ll update this post with that information.
  18. Then you have to put your name (if you chose yourself) below that and sign saying that you accepted being the statutory agent. Unless you are schizophrenic or have multiple personalities and argue with yourself, sign your name and move on.
  19. If your a PLLC, fill out your purose on number blank 4.
  20. If you plan on dissolving your company at a set time, you would fill out blank 5.
  21. Management Structure is blank 6. I chose A for mine and put me and my wife as the members. We don’t have outside management running the company and we are the only two members.
  22. Finally, fill out the executed date and sign it and send it off. If you expedited it, and you should have, it’ll be done within a week and a half to two weeks.
  23. Form # LL0001is the Notice (For Publication) form. This will be sent to the newspapers for publication. Trust me, it’s probably cheaper to send this form then your other option which is to send Form #LL0004. The newspapers charge by the column inch to publish the Notice and your odds are this form will be shorter. It cost me $60 to get mine published for 3 days (the requirement). Unless you live in Yuma County which is a lot more. I’ve seen the rates anywhere from $5 to $7 in my county.
  24. Once your forms are filled out and sent off (Don’t send the notice of publication form to the Corporation Commission) depending on how you decided on the notice you’ll either be faxed the paperwork back or you’ll get a call to come get them.
  25. Once you have them in your possession get that Notice of Publication taken care of ASAP. You only have a limited time to get it sent off, published and then get the proof of publication sent back to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

So, with that done I moved quickly to getting my finances under control. As many of you know, I’m a big Freshbooks Fan. But, it’s not a total accounting package. If I was going to keep using it, I would need to duplicate invoices, payments, etc in Quickbooks or vice versa. So, I’ve opted to leave Freshbooks and go back to Quickbooks 2007. I didn’t want to, and I thought long and hard on it. But I decided I would.

Update Dec 11, 2009

I’ve seen changed my mind on Quickbooks and went back to Freshbooks. For a better alternative to Quickbooks consider Outright. A free accounting website for Small Business Owners. It ties in seamlessly with Batchbooks(An excellent CRM program) and Freshbooks (My favorite online invoicing application). All these applications are free to either use or try. Outright is free to use and Freshbooks is free to use with under 5 clients. Batchbook is free for 30 days and only 9.95 after that. I’ve been very happy with this setup after working with and paying Quickbooks a lot of money for a long time. As a Small Business Owner this worked for me and I’ve never been happier.

I am currently paying $24 per month for my Freshbooks subscription. I decided to pocket that money and turn it around and reinvest a part of it by taking credit card payments. Quickbooks is currently offering 2 months (maybe 3, I forget) free. I can still email invoices and snail mail them, too, if I choose. Plus, I will start offering customers a way to pay by credit card. Quickbooks also vastly improved their time tracker tool and it works really nice. It integrates with Outlook nicely as well.

So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to recently. I’m now in a much better position for the new year then I have been in a long time. I hope that I’ve given you something to think about and if you have any questions, feel free to post it in the comments.