An incorporation service assists businesses, particularly small to mid-sized businesses and attorneys, form corporations and Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) quickly and affordably. With more small start-ups than ever before, there is a greater need for quick and inexpensive help in forming a corporation.
This kind of service is one of the easiest businesses to start on the Internet, requiring little time for maintenance of the web site, minimal research as well as cash outlay. For as little as $1,000 – $5,000, depending on the complexity of your web site, you can have your online incorporation service up and running!
Tools of the Trade
The main tool for this kind of operation are copies of Certificate of Incorporation forms for every state that you want to cover – and competence in filling up forms properly! A good working knowledge of incorporation law is essential to succeed in this business. Contact local government information centers in different states, and read books or official leaflets you can find on the subject.
You need to familiarize yourself with various legal structures, as the filing documents, process and fees differ for different kinds of corporations and LLC’s in various states. Learn the fee structure and process for each state (you’d be surprised to learn that each state has different rules!), and make sure to post these fees on your web site. You usually have to pay two or three separate fees to the state, and usually order a seal and stock ledger from a stationery store.
To avoid return of unprocessed forms due to erroneous entry, it is best that you contact the information services of each of the states that you want to cover in your business and clarify the rules. For example, some states may require that you put a comma between the business name and the abbreviation of “inc.” Once you know how to fill up the forms correctly, the entire process can take you only a few minutes!
Your Incorporation Business Web Site
While you do not need special qualifications to start this business, you need to be able to convey your competence, trustworthiness and knowledge in your web site. The key to success is to provide fast and friendly personal service to your clients. Your main selling point, however, is your low price — you are offering an alternative to businesses that wants to incorporate but wants to avoid the high overhead costs of hiring a lawyer. The low price, plus the convenience of setting up a corporation anywhere in the United States from their computer will make this online service hard to pass up for potential clients.
The basic features of your site should include a description of the services that you offer outlining what exactly you can do for the potential client and the fees involved. It is important at the onset to clarify client expectations. Put a form on your site to get all the required information you need from your client — proposed corporation’s name, contact person, address, preferred state of incorporation, principal activity of the company, among others. A description of your own company and contact address or phone number are also essential.
Advertising and promotions will be your biggest out-of-pocket expense. Inexpensive ways of getting the word out about your service include establishing links to entrepreneur- and business-related sites. Another effective means of creating awareness for your business is through sending out of announcements and press releases about your service to publications, whether online or traditional media, catering to business start-ups.
Revenue base will come from your service fees, which could range from $50-$100 per filing. Additional revenue sources include helping your clients secure an Employment Identification Number, selling complete incorporation kits, and consultation services. Corporate packages normally include easy-to-fill out forms such as Articles of Incorporation, any minutes from board of director meetings, stock certificated, etc. You can also branch out and offer similar services, such as trademark consultation and registration.
Your clients will mainly be U.S. businesses that want to incorporate. However, you can also expand your operations to foreign clients who wish to set-up a U.S. corporation. Your package for international clients may include setting-up a corporate bank account, and an address and contact numbers in the United States.
Sites Offering Incorporation Services
Some of the incorporation services available on the Web include
Check them out and compare their web sites to help you determine if this business is for you, and what you can offer that will make your site stand out from the pack.
Make a list of the elements on their site, and what makes their site different from the others. What services are being offered? What made you seem to trust one site more than the other?
Tips on How to Beat Your Competitors
You need to understand that the essential role of an incorporation business is to get a company started on the road to greater growth or expansion potential. Based on this premise, you can position yourself as the “online legal adviser” of companies, offering them with information, tools and resources to help draw out the full potentials of their present legal structure. This is a tough job, but who says being the best is easy?
One approach could be to make your site into a one-stop shop for all incorporation and legal requirements of a business start-up. In addition to a description of your basic services and fees, you could increase your site’s value by adding more content such as frequently asked questions, articles comparing the various legal structures, importance of incorporating a business, glossary of terms, law amendments and policy changes pertaining to each legal structure. Many people who consider starting a business simply have no idea which form of business is more advantageous for them. By providing these budding entrepreneurs with guidance and advice not only on how but also why businesses should incorporate, it will be easier to convert your visitors to paying clients. You can also add other legal forms available for downloads, including tax forms.
A little diligence and research could go a long, long way on the Internet!
Recommended Books on an Online Incorporation Service:
- Choosing the Right Legal Form of Business: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Sole Proprietor, Partnership, LLC, or Corporation
- Incorporate Your Business: A Legal Guide to Forming a Corporation in Your State
- Incorporating Your Business For Dummies
- How to Incorporate: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs and Professionals (How to Incorporate: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs & Professionals)
- Inc Yourself, 10th Edition (Inc. Yourself: How to Profit by Setting Up Your Own Corporation)