When establishing a new business, one of the many things you’ll need to consider is how you want to structure your new entity. You may decide to incorporate, form a partnership, sole proprietorship or limited liability company. Forming a corporation means your business will operate as its own entity. If you decide to incorporate, the owner is legally separated from the company’s debts and liabilities.  Due to this legal protection, the State of Illinois requires specific steps to incorporate a business.

Naming Your Corporation

The first (and one of the most exciting) steps in starting your corporation is choosing a name. There are several regulations to consider before registering a corporate name:

  • The name of your corporation must include “Company,” “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation of one of these terms.
  • Do not use a name that implies a business purpose other than what your corporation actually does. For example, do not call your business “The Sports Place” if you are an accounting firm.
  • The name must be unique and distinguished from names that are already registered with the Secretary of State. Click here to see a list of currently registered business names.
  • Illinois also limits the use of words that imply banking or insurance. The corporate name should only imply such activities if the business is authorized by the applicable state agency. For example, you should avoid naming your creative agency the “The Thought Bank.”

File Articles of Incorporation

A business is legally incorporated and can operate in the state of Illinois upon filing the Articles of Incorporation. The Secretary of State may require different information, depending on the state and corporation. Typically, the Articles of Incorporation include the basic details of your corporation. You may choose to have one or many of the corporate representatives sign the Articles of Incorporation. The officer who signs the articles is called an “incorporator” or “promoter.” The application is available online and requires payment for filing fees and taxes.

To learn more about the different business entities available to business owners, click here.