Setting up an LLC in Colorado does require some effort, but it isn’t as complex as you might think. With the right information and a clear set of instructions, forming your LLC can be a relatively simple process.
In this straightforward guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get your company officially formed and ready to conduct business in Colorado.
I’ll cover how to name your LLC, pick a registered agent, and prepare the right paperwork. I’ll also share some useful next steps to take once your LLC is formed.
7 Steps to Start an LLC in Colorado
Here’s the easiest way to form an LLC in the state of Colorado.
1. Choose a Name for Your LLC
Naming your LLC in Colorado isn’t too difficult, but there are some rules you need to follow. Your business name must be unique, or in other words, distinguishable, so your business is never mistaken for another in writing. You must also include the phrase “limited liability company” or a version of its abbreviation like L.L.C. or LLC.
There are different ways to make your company name distinguishable from other similar names. For example, 123 LLC is considered distinguishable from 123 Limited Liability Company, so using a different form of LLC in your name can help get it accepted.
This also works for spacing, some punctuation, and articles, but not for capitalization. So if a name you want has already been taken when you check the state database, you may still be able to use it if a different variation is free.
While you’re choosing a name and setting up your LLC, make sure to also check whether your company name is available as a website domain and on any social media channels you want to use. While this isn’t a requirement to form an LLC, it definitely helps down the line!
2. Appoint a Registered Agent
In Colorado, every LLC is required by law to have a registered agent: a person or business designated to receive legal documents on behalf of the limited liability company. This might include documents such as legal summons, subpoenas, or official government correspondence.
To be eligible for this role, a person must be over the age of 18 and have a physical address in Colorado. Any business entity must also have a Colorado address to be eligible. You can hire a registered agent to act on your behalf for a yearly fee, or an eligible member of the LLC can also do the job.
In Colorado, unlike many other states, the LLC can also act as its own registered agent, so you don’t have to choose an individual member for the job or pay to outsource the work.
3. File Articles of Organization
Submitting the official paperwork to form your LLC is known as filing Articles of Organization. You’ll need to provide some information when submitting these forms in Colorado, including but not limited to:
- Your distinguishable LLC name
- Principal office address, which is public information
- Mailing address
- Registered agent name, address, and consent
- Name of the person or people forming the LLC
There’s also a fee for submission, which is $50 in Colorado and must be paid online with a credit card, debit card, or prepaid account. You can choose to have your LLC’s formation come into effect the day of submission, or choose a delayed date with 90 days of filing.
4. Get Licenses and Permits
Depending on the type of business you intend to run, you may also need to obtain relevant licenses and permits in order to operate within the state of Colorado. Most types of businesses in Colorado will need some kind of permit, so it’s best to do the research and be sure you have what you need before you begin conducting business.
Here are some examples of the most common types of permits and licenses:
- A general business license
- A sales tax permit
- A liquor license
- A food service permit
- A zoning permit
- A health permit
- A building permit
5. Draw Up an Operating Agreement
An optional but beneficial step at this point in the process is to draw up an operating agreement for your company. This sets out in writing many of the key rules and standards to which you want your business to be run. It helps you personalize your company’s code of conduct, instead of just being beholden to the default LLC operation laws of the state.
It can also help keep the different members of an LLC on the same page, working towards the same goal, and using the same strategies. An operating agreement can lay out the finer details of how the business will operate, including voting, meetings, key communications, and conflict resolution.
6. Apply for a Certificate of Good Standing
When your Articles of Organization have been filed and all of your permits obtained, it’s time to apply for a Certificate of Good Standing. This is proof that your LLC is in compliance with all of Colorado’s requirements and you are officially authorized to do business in this state.
The certificate can come in handy in a range of situations, such as applying for a business bank account, a loan, or permission to do business in a different state. It’s a way to easily prove that your business is legitimate and you have permission to practice, so it’s good to keep it on hand. In some states, there is a small fee for this certificate, but in Colorado, it’s given for free.
The Next Steps After Forming an LLC in Colorado
Once your LLC is formed, you can start taking the next steps towards opening for business.
1. Buy Insurance for Your LLC
Insurance keeps your company safe from sudden large bills that you wouldn’t be able to cover otherwise. This might happen if an employee or customer gets injured, if a natural disaster strikes, or if someone sues your company.
Your status as an LLC will help protect your personal assets in these situations, but insurance can help protect your company's funds as well. There are multiple types of small business insurance, and the right types for you will depend on the type of business you run, whether you have employees, and other factors. Here are some common types of insurance:
- General liability insurance
- Business income insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Health insurance
- Worker’s compensation insurance
2. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned to a business by the IRS for tax purposes. For sole proprietorship businesses or LLCs with one member, it’s possible to use your social security number instead of an EIN. However, if you have more than one member, or plan to hire employees in the near future, you’ll need to get yourself an EIN.
Aside from filing taxes, you can also use your EIN to open a business bank account, hire employees, or obtain business licenses and permits. Even if you only have one member, you can still apply for an EIN and benefit from separating your personal finances from your company finances, and keep your social security number private.
3. Set Up a Payment System for Your LLC
Another important thing you need to do before you can open up your business is to make sure your customers or clients have a way to pay you. Now that you have a Certificate of Good Standing and an EIN, you can open up a business bank account and allow customers to pay the company directly.
You can start accepting credit card payments easily by signing up to Pay.com. Account setup is hassle-free, and you don’t need any prior merchant or technical experience thanks to the user-friendly interface.
You can collect payments by integrating a personalized checkout page into your own website or by sending out direct Pay Links. For over-the-phone transactions, you can also use the Virtual Terminal to enter payment details manually.
The Bottom Line
Forming an LLC is a relatively simple process once you know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. In Colorado, the entire process can be completed online and it only costs $50 to file your articles of organization.
It’s never too soon to start setting up your payment system, so create your Pay.com account now and start accepting credit card payments quickly. You can also offer other payment methods like Apple Pay and PayPal, so your customers can pay however it’s convenient for them.