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How to start a one-person LLC

Your guide to starting a one-person business (LLC) with legal, banking, Paypal, custom email. Focused on Syracuse, New York.

My sister is starting an LLC in Syracuse. I've started an LLC there. This post will focus on Syracuse + New York state for specifics (i.e. the publication requirement).

But much of this writing seems relevant to other U.S. business starters too. Before you dismiss it.

In mid-2016 I lived in Syracuse and made some side income (ethically) hacking. As revenue climbed it seemed smart to start hiding money in the Cayman Islands an LLC.

I had costs like software, cloud/hosting, computer peripherals. Deducting expenses before getting taxed is a big deal as an entrepreneur. "Real life" is the opposite. Your "take-home pay" has taxes out then pay rent, buy pizza, etcetera. 😭

Two years later - yes forming an LLC was smart.

This guide will take you from nothing to having an LLC, employer identification number (EIN), no-fee business bank account, Paypal, and Gmail for your domain.

Charts with statistics on the screen of a laptop on a glossy surface
Photo credit - Carlos Muza / Unsplash

Naming - the hardest part

At the acquisition reveal party for my old company, I sat around the founders when the topic of business naming came up. Their 16-year-old cybersecurity practice was a success by any measure. It was being acquired by Ernst & Young. That naming the business was the hardest part of it all resonated with me.

The first step in this guide is generating a business name unique in New York. An entity name. Since it's an LLC it end in LLC.

Amy's Cookies LLC is a silly example we'll run with.

Once you have an idea, verify it's unique by searching the NYS Corporation and Business Entity Database.

You.com

Going along with that name is (ideally) a solid domain name.

"Domain names" are just amyscookies.com, amys-cookies.net, cookiesbyamy.online, the list goes on. There are many top-level domain (TLD) extensions now.

Even if your business won't be web-based, further on I cover how to set up Gmail for your custom domain.

asmith@amyscookies.com looks sleeker than amyscookies@gmail.com.

Need more convincing?

  • Google doesn't want multiple Google/Gmail accounts per person
  • Separating all your business subscriptions, receipts, whatever is easier
  • Uhh insert a dozen other reasons here

I've bought my domains from Namecheap forever. Really. See this 4-year-old post of mine where I praise them. They give the lowest prices and best value. Free WHOIS protection.

Click here to get a great domain name and see why I ❤ Namecheap

The other thing - you'll see later in this post - is they make Google Apps setup easy. You can opt for that on registration.

Initial filing

Is it between 6:00 AM and 7:30 PM EST Monday to Friday? This next web application has business hours. I am not kidding.

Continue only if it's an open time. Doing this initial filing online is way more efficient than sending in paper.

Head to this page and click the start button.

On that next page click "Domestic Business Corporation (For Profit) and Domestic Limited Liability Company".

Fill out the paperwork form and you're on your way.

The publication requirement

After completing the form from above, it will clue you in on next steps. One of which is a publication requirement.

There's a (presumably old) New York state law that new business entities be announced in print. This announcement must appear for five consecutive weeks in two newspapers.

This post will save Syracuse dwellers an email to local government. The two newspapers you'll have to run in are The Post Standard and Syracuse New Times. That hits the stipulation for one daily paper and one weekly paper.

newspaper-legal-1

For The Post Standard, see this page of the Syracuse Media Group website to start your process. As memory serves you will send an email to that address to start the process.

newspaper-legal-3

For New Times, here's a PDF that's probably still relevant. If that link breaks an email to lijaspoor@syracusenewtimes.com should yield the most up-to-date file.

newspaper-legal-2

All of this should cost you less than $200. New Times accepts credit card payment for sure. Hopefully The Post Standard will too.

As I remember, your receipts from the papers are proof you fulfilled this New York requirement. Then there's some final form or paper to send the state with those.

After you complete the previous step it will educate you on the specifics, I think.

Then you're on your way. 📈

Time to employ millions

... or at least get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This is like a Social Security number for your business. A unique identifier that enables the opening of a bank account and Paypal.

Like our earlier friend, the ny.gov web app for LLC formation, the IRS EIN request site has business hours.

Here is the IRS form in question.

Close-up of a man's hands holding a bundle of dollar bills and a cigarette
Photo credit - Jeremy Paige / Unsplash

Paypal, my only friend

This or the next section - opening a bank account - can both be done next. This doesn't have to be first. Having that EIN finalizes formation pretty much.

Opening a Paypal is easy because they have a business guide for you. You'll use your EIN in lieu of a SSN like a personal registration calls for.

Making bank

... or at least opening a business bank account. I've always had good experiences with AmeriCU. It's where I currently do business banking and recommend it to you as well.

You'l have to make an appointment and sit down with someone to open a business bank account. I recall there being a followup visit too for final paperwork and your debit card.

This process can't be started online (as memory serves). I would call your local branch, tell them you're interested in opening a business checking account, then they'll probably make you an appointment. The East Syracuse branch is where I took care of this.

The G Suite

What used to be called "Google Apps for Work" is now called G Suite. To me that sounds silly. But it's OK because we get Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, all this quality stuff.

Gmail is my favorite email client and that alone is worth paying $5/month for. That's what the basic plan costs for G Suite. It packs plenty for a solo entrepreneur.

The easiest way to get Google Apps set up is by using Namecheap for your domain. There's an option as you're doing that to set this up at the same time. Now, I personally haven't done the setup that way. But chances are it's fairly automated and will save time.

Otherwise, register through the G Suite site and put in your domain while signing up. How you change records for your domain will depend on who your registrar is. There's pointers from Google as you go through, if my memory serves.

A Google search page for the word “analytics” on a mobile phone
Photo credit - Edho Pratama / Unsplash

Now go get rich

All the other titles were jokes, basically, but this one isn't.

Sincere good luck from here. All of this was confusing to me when I got started. The information was disparate. I really hope you got value from this guide.

Happy husting + thanks for reading 💰✌