Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Get Someone Else to Organize Your Company

(Remember, this isn't legal advice, financial advice, or business advice. It's intended only for your entertainment, if that is possible.)

There are at least three ways to organize an LLC or incorporate a corporation. The obvious first way is to do everything yourself. There's lots of contradictory and unreliable information on Web, and there's even some contradictory information among various published books of the same subject. Federal government websites and the state website in which you're organizing/incorporating have the most direct answers, along with the official forms. Unfortunately, you'd have to sort through the relevant from the irrelevant when you're filling out forms (a good self-help book can, well, help). Also, unless your state capital is within reasonable driving distance - so you can hand-deliver forms to the Secretary of State - your new business will be relegated to the back of the line. Depending on your state, filling out forms yourself will only cost about $100 in fees (plus or minus), but the entire process will take anywhere from one to two months. When it came to the music company, I wanted to organize as fast as possible.

The second way is the ideal way: Get a lawyer. My film company had the good fortune and privilege to work with a fantastic business lawyer, who filed the Articles of Incorporation in basically no time at all. However, good lawyers are pricey, and the entire process could cost anywhere between $500 and $1000 (or more!) in lawyer's fees. However, with a knowledgeable legal adviser at your side, this the ideal way to organize/incorporate.

The third way is a balance between experience, price, and time: Hire an incorporating company. We did this for the music company. Apparently, the incorporating company was able to hand-deliver the Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State, so the entire process was almost instantaneous. We just had to wait for various delivery companies (USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex, etc.) for our certified copies from the state and relevant information from the incorporating company. The entire process cost less than $400 and took about one week to get the relevant documents. Using an incorporating company is good when you sort of know what you're doing but don't have the time to actually file documents. I'm glad that we also did two things in the process: We checked out several incorporating companies at the Better Business Bureau, and we searched for coupon codes on Google to reduce the price of using the best company for our needs.

There's actually a Post-It note on my computer monitor that reads, in bold capital Sharpie letters: REMEMBER COUPON CODES! Those, my friends, are words to live by.

And so it was, DeRamos Group LLC was born. Of course, this isn't the end of the start-up story, as that vague, would-be conglomerate of a name wouldn't help us as a music publishing company. In other words: To be continued. I hope you found this post a bit entertaining, and if you learned something, be sure to verify what you learned from someone more reputable.

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