Online incorporation is a user-friendly process, almost as easy as typing a word or a phrase in a search engine to know about it. It also has many advantages, most important being that you do not need to hire the services of a lawyer. This can save you a lot of money, which can be invested in your business. After all, for a new business, any amount of capital saved is beneficial.
The first thing to do is to go to the concerned website. In the United States, it is mostly the secretary of state office, which is responsible for registering new businesses. So, log on to the secretary of state website of the state that you want to set up your business in.
In the state's website, there will be a separate section for business, which you can click on. Most of the websites have a section by the name of 'economic development', which contains information on starting a business in that particular state. So, you can go to this section if you are completely new to the field, and have not researched much on the kind of business you want to initiate, whether a 'C corporation', 'S corporation', nonprofit organization, or a LLC (Limited Liability Company).
The next step is to check whether the corporate name that you have chosen for your business is available or someone else is already using it. The secretary of state website offers you the facility to check your corporate name, free of cost. All you need to do is to fill the name registration form and submit it online. To be really sure, you can put your business name, followed by your state name, and look for it in a search engine, before filling out the name registration form.
Now that the name you have chosen is available, you can start filling up the 'Articles of Incorporation' listed on the website. You will need to provide information pertaining to three positions in your business, namely the president, secretary/treasury, and the registered agent. The other important information that needs to be filled is the number of shares you initially plan to offer as well as their par value. Normally, most businesses stick to the rule of thousand shares offered at the par value of one US dollar. You can either go with the same rule or decide according to your business needs. Also, make sure that whatever information you are providing is accurate, as any changes made thereafter will cost you some additional money.
In the end, you need to provide your credit card details and pay a registration fee, so that the articles of incorporation are registered with the secretary of state office. Within a few weeks, the state department will send you a confirmation, that your articles of incorporation have been registered, accompanied by an 'Employer Identification Number'. With these documents in place, you can go ahead and open a business checking account.
If you do it yourself, the process is simple and will cost you very less. However, in case you need any assistance, there are many companies offering their services by charging a fee. They will take care of the entire process as mentioned above.