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Paper Trail Before you launch your business, you'd better know what the State Corporation Commission does and what it means to you.

By Joan E. Lisante

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You've thought of a business that won't nosedive after the holidays, assembled a team, found cheap office space and are ready to launch your company. But first, you'll have to jump through that paper hoop held by the ringmaster, the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission (SCC), known in some states as the Secretary of State. It's essentially your one-stop shopping center for setting up a business, whether it's a partnership, a corporation, a limited liability company or another entity.

You'll deal with this organization when you start your business and from year to year as you file annual reports, pay yearly dues or change details of your organization (directors, address of record, number of shares and so on). Although you might eventually delegate these tasks to someone else, it helps to know the basics of your own SCC--or, if you like, your "state paperwork commission."

What it does: Your SCC regulates many business and economic interests. Its powers range from setting utility rates to serving as the central filing agency for corporations. For your purposes, it's like a college registrar: You need to show up several times a year to hand over checks and documents. If you don't, your business might cease to exist!

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