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How to Register Your Small Business in Five Steps

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How to Register Your Small Business in Five Steps

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: July 21, 2009 Updated: April 30, 2012

How do I register my business?' is one of the most commonly asked questions from new small business owners.

What most new business owners don't realize is that registering your business isn't simply a matter of taking a trip to your local county offices and you're done. Business registration typically involves several checklist items including registering your business structure, registering to pay taxes, registering to get a permit, and so on.

Like all things in business, your best approach is to take things one step at a time.

Here are some tips and best practices from the Small Business Administration, and other Government Agencies on how to register your business at the federal, state, and local agency level.

1) Decide on a Business Structure

Before you take care of registering your business you'll need to step back and consider how you wish to structure your business as a legal entity; whichever structure is right for you will determine further registration requirements.

If you decide to create a corporation, a non-profit, an LLC or a partnership, you will have to register your business and file certain documents with your state government.

If you are operating as a sole proprietorship, you don't need to register your business with your state. However, if you choose to operate your business under any other name than your own, you will need to formally file your trade name or 'doing business as' name with your state. See the next step in business registration on how to file your business name registration.

Read more about choosing a legal structure for your business and how to go about registering that entity with the government.

2) Register your Business Name

If you choose to name your business under a trade name - for example 'Green Fingers Lawn Services' - you cannot operate that business under that name until it is officially registered with your local government. Until then, the legal name of your business essentially defaults to your given name. Find out how to register your business name in your state.

3) Register with the IRS and get a Federal Tax ID

This won't apply to all new businesses, but if you have employees, any business partnerships, are a corporation or other organization, you'll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). To check whether you need an EIN, take this quick survey: Do I Need an EIN?. You can apply for the EIN online here. If you don't need an EIN you can simply use your Social Security Number to administer your business finances.

4) Register with Your State Tax or Revenue Office

As well as a federal tax ID, you'll need to pay state and local taxes - although each locality has its own laws.

As a rule, you'll need to register your business with your state's revenue office, you may also need to apply for a tax permit (e.g. a sales tax permit will let you legally collect sales tax from customers). As a business operator you'll also need to comply with state income tax and employment laws. Get more information on state tax registration requirements here.

5) Register for the Appropriate Business Licenses & Permits

It often comes as a surprise to many new small business owners that, in fact, most businesses - from home-based business consultants to storekeepers, restaurateurs, and so on - require some form of government permit or licenses to operate.

The good news is that, navigating the world of small business licensing laws and regulations got a whole lot easier with the launch of the U.S. government's Permit Me interactive search tool. The tool provides a single place for business owners to seek out the licenses, permits and registrations needed to run their businesses. Searches can be customized to meet your specific business type and location, and the tool will generate links and instructions to get you started.

Additional Resources

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


Great information and all the steps should be unique for the business development and users are not confused to reach near to you through completely information. Yellow pages, White pages, Hotfrog are the best local business portal. Regards, www.mvminfotech.com
"Yellow pages, White pages, Hotfrog are the best local business portal." : I really depends what countries you are targeting.
thks for article
Whoa! It is not so simple to register. This little guide is welcome, thank you.
Indeed, a good job! This is really complicated to register and one understands the usefulness of such a site.
Cet article est bon, ça m'a donné envie de jouer aux jeux de guerre : http://jeux2guerres.fr/ car il est très bien ecrit pour le jeu de guerre en général !
Great article, as usual. To decide on a Business Structure really depends of the country you live in. Some advices are not applicable here in Thailand. Cheers, Antoine
Please tell me that youre heading to keep this up! Its so very good and so important. I cant wait to read far more from you. I just feel like you know so very much and know how to make people listen to what youve got to say. This weblog is just as well cool to be missed. Great things, actually. Please, PLEASE keep it up!
Memorandum of Association: - Company name, the registered office address and the company objects are essential to form a company. The company's memorandum delivered to the Registrar is signed by each subscriber in front of a witness who must attest the signature. Visit http://www.companyformationsindia.in/ for more
This is true. Complex but true.


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