Every business needs to keep up on regulatory paperwork. Ugh, I know. You hate this stuff, right? Here’s the thing – you’ll hate it a lot less if you remember to check in on it from time to time. Don’t let it sneak up and bite you.

Some of your business’s legal/regulatory paperwork needs to be updated from time to time and filed with the city/state. Your requirements will vary greatly depending on what type of business you own. It will also vary based on your location – there are different requirements for each city, county, and state.

Here are some common things to check on and update, if applicable:

  • Statement of Information – A statement of information outlines the business address, the registered agent, and the officers of a company. Requirements vary, but in California the statement of information is required every 2 years for either LLCs or Corporations.
  • Corporate Minutes – required for S or C Corporations. These are written records of decisions made within a company. Some states require corporations to hold an annual meeting and keep minutes on file within the company. They usually do not need to be filed with the state.
  • Amendments to Articles of Incorporation – If you own a corporation, you filed articles of incorporation when you started the company. These documents outlined important things including the name of the business, legal address, purpose of the company, and whether the company has stock. Over time, some of these items may have changed. You can file an amendment to your articles of incorporation to reflect these changes. Not all changes require a filed amendment, so check your specific requirements.
  • DBA – DBA stands for “Doing Business As.” Also called a fictitious business name, this can be used by sole proprietors, LLCs, or Corporations who want to market themselves using a name that is different from their legal business name. In California, they are good for 5 years before needing to be renewed. Think about the names you currently use to market your business. If you are “ABC Shoe Corporation of America,” but your logo says, “ABC Shoes,” you probably need a DBA. These take a while to process because they require the proposed DBA name to be published in a newspaper (you’ve probably seen page after page of notices in local papers), so get started early.
  • Business License – Last but not least, don’t forget your business license. Please make sure you are checking the requirements for licensing in your city/county. Your license fee may be based on a percent of revenues, or as a flat fee. Check your city website for details. Every city is different. Business licenses are usually valid for 12 months.

I know you hate doing this stuff. But here’s the thing – it matters. Back in my commercial lending days, I had COUNTLESS loan closings delayed or cancelled because the owner had not filed the proper regulatory paperwork updates. There are many other problems that can arise from not keeping on top of your filing requirements.

If you have questions on any of these documents (and I’d be shocked if you DON’T), refer to your secretary of state website. There are usually many FAQs that will get you the answers you need. It’s also recommended to speak with your business attorney to ensure you are completing your filing correctly.

Ignoring them won’t make them go away. Take a little time right now and check the last time you updated your filings. Make sure you are up to date!

4 Oranges is committed to bringing you weekly tips in the form of To-Do List items that you can complete in an hour or less. These tips were generated from reviewing best practices from the hundreds of businesses I’ve worked with over the past 15 years. I expect you’re already doing some (but not all) of them. Improve your business by making quick fixes that have long-lasting results.

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