OPERATING AGREEMENT FOR LLC: Meaning, Purpose, Difference and All You Should Know

Image credit: Forbes

A limited liability company (LLC), often known as a “limited liability company,” is a fantastic choice to explore if you want a business structure that provides you with additional personal protection while remaining less formal. No matter how your business is set up, you will have to fill out some paperwork, like an operating agreement. Learn more about the single-member LLC operating agreement, what it should include, and why someone might want to create one.

What Is an Operating Agreement?

An operating agreement is a very important piece of paper that limited liability companies (LLCs) use to lay out the company’s financial and operational decisions. It also depicts the rules, regulations, and provisions that go along with those decisions. The goal of the document is to set rules for how the company works internally in a way that meets the needs of the owners of the company, who are called “members.” When all of the members of the limited liability company sign the document, it becomes a legally binding contract. Thus, this binds all of the members to the terms of the agreement. Only the laws of California, Missouri, and New York require businesses to have operating agreements in place. Other states do not have such requirements.

Furthermore, LLCs that do not have operating agreements in place are subject to the default rules of the state. These are set out in the law that applies to the case and are determined by the decisions of state courts. The purpose of operating agreements is comparable to that of corporate bylaws or to that of partnership agreements in multi-member limited liability companies.

What Is Another Name for Operating Agreement?

This agreement could also be known as a membership agreement. Also, the format of this agreement is very similar to that of a standard business partnership agreement.

What Should an Operating Agreement Include?

In your operating agreement, you should include a variety of topics. The importance of some of these factors will vary with the details of your company and the challenges you’re facing. Here is what an operating agreement should include:

#1. Voting Rights

The operating agreements can be changed so that members don’t have to vote in proportion to their share of the business. It can also prevent a member or group of members from casting a vote on a particular issue. Capital accounts, capital commitments, and contributions to capital also have the potential to decide who gets to vote. A supermajority vote or veto power for a select few members or managers is also possible. Even if a group doesn’t have a say in who runs the company or how decisions are made, they might be able to veto specific management decisions.

#2. Books and Records

Books and records should be part of operating agreements. This is because they cover how to keep records and give members the right to look at the company’s corporate and financial records.

#3. Members’ Proportional Ownership

To get a business off the ground and running, the owners of that company will typically make contributions of services, cash, or property. Most of the time, they get a share of the company’s ownership that is equal to the amount of money they put into the business when it first started. Having said that, members are free to divide ownership however they see fit and in any way they see fit.

In the operating agreements, the ownership percentages should be written in a way that is easy to understand.

#4. Distributive Shares

An operating agreement should also include distributive shares. It is a term for the distribution of financial gains and losses. Distributive shares are typically assigned in operating agreements based on the percentage of ownership. If you have 25% ownership in a company, depending on how much of the business you own, you have a right to a share of both the profits and the losses.

Nonetheless, this guideline is optional. Even though an investor might own 25% of the company, they might only get 10% of the shares that can be sold. The rules for special allocations still apply if you decide to assign distributive shares that aren’t in line with the ownership percentages.

#5. Allocation of Revenues and Expenses

The operating agreements should also specify the annual distribution percentage of the allocated profits to the members. The report should also address the question of whether or not the members can reasonably expect the business to pay them enough just to cover the costs of the taxes they will owe on profits. In addition, it should specify whether distributions of the company’s profits are made on a predetermined schedule or whether the owners can take distributions whenever they like.

#6. General Provisions 

Lastly, the general principles assert that arbitration agreements must go through symbolic mediation first. Clearly state that a majority vote is needed to change an operating contract. Changing a member’s share of earnings, losses, distributions, or their limited liability. Then, each member who would be affected by the change would have to agree to an “adverse consequence” clause.

Also see: OPERATING CASH FLOW: Uses and Its Applications

Why Would Someone Create an Operating Agreement?

#1. It Helps Protect Your Liability Status

You can create an operating agreement to help keep your assets separate from those of your business. This is the most important reason why your single-member limited liability company needs an operating agreement and why you need to understand it.

Also, if your state doesn’t mandate an operating agreement for your LLC, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one.

#2. Lenders Might Want to See Your Business Model

When you are operating a company of any kind, you may find that you need to obtain loans to cover the costs of doing business.

However, before proceeding, lenders and other businesses with whom you wish to partner may request a copy of your limited liability company’s operating agreements (LLC). Given this, people often create an operating agreement. So, if you don’t have a copy of the operating agreement for your limited liability company (LLC), your application for a loan in the name of your LLC could be turned down.

#3. It Can Supersede the Default Rules of a State LLC

People create an operating agreement because if they didn’t, their LLCs would have to follow the rules of the LLC laws in their states. You must, however, follow any default provisions of law, even if you disagree with them.

In addition, your operating agreements can supersede certain requirements of your state’s LLC laws if they specify how you want to manage your business. Always keep in mind that even with operating agreements, there are some things you can’t change. To find out what you can and cannot change with operating agreements, you can contact the office responsible for LLC laws in your state.

#4. An Operating Agreement Provides a Succession Plan

In case you hadn’t heard, operating agreements can also function as a business succession plan. This is why many businesses opt to create an operating agreement.

In the event of your death or incapacity, the agreement should designate a successor manager for your limited liability company. Also, if something were to happen to you, this could make it much easier for your family to legally continue operating the business or wind it down.

#5. To Clarify Verbal Agreements

People create an operating system to erase all verbal agreements. Members can misunderstand or miscommunicate a verbal agreement. Hence, to avoid confusion in the event of a dispute, it is best to put all business arrangements, including operational conditions, in writing.

What is an Operating Agreement for LLC?

The “limited liability company” (LLC) is the most common form of organization for small businesses in the United States. The designation was made in order to make the shareholder liability shield more available to smaller corporations.

The operating agreement of a limited liability company (LLC) asserts what the business is called, who owns it, what the members’ roles and responsibilities are, and other organizational details. Articles of organization for limited liability companies (LLCs) usually include the company’s name, address, and members’ contact information, as well as the tax treatment the LLC has chosen and what to do in a few important situations. LLCs with more than one member benefit a lot from having an operating agreement that serves as a legally binding contract between the members.

Furthermore, an operating agreement is not required to be filed or provided as proof by an LLC; in fact, a business may choose to keep such a document private among its members. The agreement can be changed as often as needed so that it can be used as a guide for doing business and for solving any problems that may come up.

Benefits of an LLC Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement might be useful even if there is only one owner/employee in a business venture. To protect the owner from personal liability for the business’s debts and obligations. Operating agreements might create a “wall of protection” between the LLC and the owner. In that case, the LLC’s creditors may go after the owner’s personal belongings.
The terms for the business’s succession can be laid out in an operating agreement, together with other governance procedures like meetings and voting. Unless an operating agreement specifies otherwise, the state’s default LLC regulations will govern the distribution of ownership interests in the business.

Single-Member LLC Operating Agreement 

A single-member LLC operating agreement is a legal document that outlines the policies and procedures of a company. During business formation, single-member limited liability companies (LLCs) draft this operating agreement together with their articles of incorporation. A single-member LLC operating agreement is essential for protecting limited liability companies from legal responsibility.

What Should a Single-Member LLC Operating Agreement Include?

The operating agreement for a limited liability company (LLC) with a single member is very different from an LLC operating agreement with multiple members. To be more specific, you are the only owner of the business, and as a result, you are the only member of the LLC. The following should be included as provisions in the operating agreement for your single-member LLC:

  • Name of the Single Member LLC Operating Agreement
  • Principal Business Location
  • Condition of Organization or Formation
  • Registered Office and Agent Operating in a Different State for the LLC (Foreign LLC)
  • Term of an LLC
  • Purpose of LLC
  • Authority of LLC
  • Declaration of Limited Liability
  • Membership Dues and Donations
  • Accounting and Records Abolition or Termination

What Is Difference Between Operating and a Shareholder Agreement?

An operating agreement is used when a limited liability company has multiple members. However, when a corporation has multiple shareholders, a shareholder agreement is used. These documents can help ensure that your company is set up properly. This will allow you to avoid potential problems with the operation of your business in the future.

What Is the Difference Between an Operating Agreement and a Company Agreement?

Operating agreements are documents that are meant to settle internal disagreements. The company agreement, on the other hand, doesn’t have any clauses that are meant to do that. Also, operating agreements cannot inform the state of the plan to establish and run a limited liability company, whereas company agreements can.

Wrapping Up

Lastly, it’s also worth noting that, despite being legally binding, the operating agreement can be changed at any time via the system of your choice. This means that as the business grows and evolves, you can make the necessary adjustments to meet the needs of the organization and its members.

Frequently Asked Questions on Operating Agreement

Do I Need an Operating Agreement if Its Just Me

Yes, it helps to separate your commercial assets from your personal ones.

Do All Partnerships Have an Operating Agreement

Yes, it is a very important document that can help prevent future misunderstandings and disagreements.


  • upcounsel.com
  • smallbusiness.chron.com
  • incfile.com
  • forbes.com
  • contractscounsel.com
  1. SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP VS LLC: What is Better? (What You Should Know)
  2. OPERATING AGREEMENT: How To Create an Operating Agreement For LLC
  4. Operating Cash Flow: Uses and Its Applications
  5. INTEGRATIVE NEGOTIATION: Definition,Tips and Examples
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
What is a Pass-Through-Entity
Read More


Table of Contents Hide How a Pass-Through Entity WorksTypes of Flow-Through Entities#1. The S Corp#2. Partnerships#3. Companies With…