Down to Business


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Holding the articles of incorporation of the company was exciting. My dream of creating a dirt cheap software startup was becoming reality. These official papers was one more step in the process of getting the company on its feet. For those of you who have never created a company of your own, let me walk you through the steps I took. 

Now it might seem obvious that you need to create a company, but there is actually a lot you can do before you need to have something like that in place. The reason we needed to go ahead was because we were planning on putting our first test app on the Android Market. We wanted to embed ads in the free app which requires a bank account. Instead of using a personal bank account, the two main reasons for me to create the business at that stage was to get some form of legal protection and not to have any potential income entangled with my personal taxes.

In keeping with the goal of doing everything as cheaply as possible, I decided not to use a lawyer for the filing. Please get your own professional advice about decisions like these. I had created a company before so I felt comfortable doing it again myself.

I decided to create a limited liability company (LLC) in Texas since that is where I live and it would just be easier for the paperwork. Instead of just downloading the forms from the Texas secretary of state web site, I decided to use the online MyCorporation service. Every state has its own particular requirements and so I didn’t want to get caught missing something myself. Once you’ve filled in all the necessary details on their website, the service will do all the paperwork including organizing a registered agent required in Texas.

One thing I did before the filing was to get a free Google Voice phone number.  I configured the voice account to forward the incoming phone calls to other phone numbers; I have it configured to forward calls to my smart phone. That way we use the Google number as the business phone number without giving out my personal number. It also has a bunch of nice filtering and voicemail features. Also, I used my home address as the business address for now.

About a week later, you will get a folder with various documents including an operating agreement and the certificate of filing from the secretary of state. The service also provides a CD containing tips on running your business and templates for various documentation.

Then you need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes. You can do this online on their website or you can phone them too. You’ll have a number within 15 minutes.

The next step was to create a business bank account. The easiest for me was to do that through my personal bank. You can do everything over the phone if you have a fax machine, or you can just go to the local branch and have it all done within an hour which is what I did. I created a business checking and savings account. I also requested a business debit card and credit card which usually takes about a week to get to you. The bank linked the business accounts and my personal accounts so I can manage them all together online.

We needed a web site for the company. I took a look at WordPress.com which gives you a free blog, but it had all kinds of limitations on what plugins you could install. I already had lots of experience with using WordPress so I didn’t feel that I had to go for a professional hosted solution. I already had a cheap web hosting service, so I decided to install a WordPress blog.

For any potential online transactions I created accounts on both PayPal and Google Checkout linked to the business checking account, both which took a few days to process.

Since we wanted to publish our first app on the Android Market, we needed a Android Market Account. That was breeze to set up online and Google linked the Android account to the Google Checkout account. The account was ready to upload apps within the same day.

At some point we might also publish to the Apple App Store, so we needed an iOS Developer Program account. Doing the Apple account was way more involved with lots of online forms to fill in, various emails, faxes and a phone call involved. After about 3 days the Apple account was ready to upload apps.

I also created a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I hooked the Twitter account into the WordPress blog to automatically create a tweet when I make a new posting.

In total it took just over two weeks to get all of this done. Lots of forms to fill in but so nice to see everything coming together. The dream now feels more real and official-like which motivates us to keep things going.

Image courtesy of Flickr user thrig.

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