Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or an aspect of business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway for an Amazon Firestick and Echo Dot bundle. Today, we will answer the following question: “how do I register a business?”

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

When starting your small business, it is important to make sure you register your business with your local government. This may sound a little intimidating, but I assure you, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Please note: this guide is for residents of the US. Other countries’ processes will be different. Even with the US, laws differ by state, county, and city. Use this post as a guideline, but not as a document of ultimate legal authority.

1. Make Sure Your Businesses Name Isn’t Taken 

The most straightforward way to see if someone has already taken your business name is to Google it. If you search on Google and find that someone else has taken the name, you probably want to pick a different name.

Rules for registering your business differ by state, but most states have a way to see if your name is available when you go to register your business. If your state government does not have a way to check for available names, try Sba.gov.

Once you settle on a name you like, you need to protect it. “There are four different ways to register your business name:

  1. Entity name registration – this protects your business name at the state level. (This is the focus of this guide).
  2. Trademark registration – this protects your business name at a national level.
  3. Doing Business As (DBA) name registration.
  4. Domain name registration – this secures your business’s website address.

2. Pick The Right Kind of Business

The next step in this process is to choose what type of business you want to run. While there are many types to choose from, the seven most popular types are a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Partnership, Corporation, LLC, Non-Profit, or a Co-Op. Each business structure has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Through a thorough evaluation of your own goals, you can determine which type is the best fit for you. 

This is important to take into account from an early point in the process as you need to know what structure your business has in order to register it. According to Sba.gov, “your location and business structure determine how you’ll need to register your business. Determine those factors first, and registration becomes very straightforward. For most small businesses, registering your business is as simple as registering your business name with state and local governments.”

3. Get Your State License And Any Other Licenses Required

“The licenses and permits you need from the state, county, or city will depend on your business activities and business location. Your business license fees will also vary.” The same basic principle applies to federal licenses too. To determine which, if any, additional licenses or permits you need, go to your state’s website and search by the type of business you intend to open. When in doubt, you can always call as well.

4. Get An EIN Number With The Federal Government

An EIN number is a nine-digit number that is used to identify your small business. “You may need to obtain an EIN for a number of reasons, including business, estate, or trust banking, and hiring employees. Businesses also need EINs when they are required to file employment tax returns; excise tax returns; or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms returns.”

In plain English, you need an EIN to file taxes. It takes about five minutes to set up, and you can do it here.

5. Get a State Sales Tax Number

You will likely also need a state sales tax number. The concept is similar to an EIN, but instead of being used for taxes at the federal level, it is used for taxes at the state level. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia collect statewide sales taxes, so you probably need a sales tax number. “This number allows you to collect and submit sales taxes to your state’s tax authority. Without a tax ID number, your business can’t collect taxes, and it risks fines and other legal actions.”

6. When In Doubt, Use a Service Like LegalZoom

If you are still feeling a bit lost on where to go, what to do, or any of these steps, look into a service such as LegalZoom. LegalZoom can help you find out which specific steps you need to set up a business in your state. It costs extra, but for many busy people, the extra cost is worth the convenience.

Final Thoughts

Registering a business may seem overwhelming, but fortunately, the process looks worse than it actually is. You don’t have to go through a process like this alone (even if we’re all standing six feet apart now). There are literally countless resources available for you online. We hope that this article can get you going in the right direction!

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

34 Comments

Tars shippee · June 29, 2020 at 10:04 am

I wish I read this years ago when I opened my business

Michael DeFren · June 29, 2020 at 10:05 am

Finally a simple to read easy guide. Im always late to the party. Saved!

    Chetan Kona Yerukunondu · June 30, 2020 at 9:22 am

    I live in another country but the first three steps are actually similar to mine!

      Brandon Rollins · July 6, 2020 at 11:30 am

      I’m glad to hear that this is still relevant even where you live, Chetan! One day I hope with this blog that we can write for a truly global audience!

    Brandon Rollins · July 6, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Only fashionably so. Glad you found it useful!

Maria Teresa Fernandez Ferreira · June 29, 2020 at 11:32 am

Thanks for the details, it is always easier to do when you have everything also explained

    Esco Garcia · June 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Muy buena información, muchas gracias.

Paulo Oliveira · June 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm

Very useful article in 6 steps for those who want to enter the market …

michael christofield · June 29, 2020 at 6:58 pm

Not properly registering can have a huge impact later on. Someone else can swoop in and take your name, or if you took someone else’s name, the rights owner could sue, and you’d not only lose money, but if you had built a name for yourself, you have to start over with a new one.

    Brandon Rollins · July 6, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Yep, and honestly, in Tennessee, it’s only like $300 to register an LLC. It’s a relatively low bar to clear.

Yasmin Mukhi · June 30, 2020 at 5:17 am

As mentioned above we must ready all the necessary documents related to business to avoid any trouble so you can run your business smothly.

terry murphy · June 30, 2020 at 7:55 am

book marked for future reference, thank you

Spiros · June 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm

I think with some help someone can start a business

Melissa Alvarado · June 30, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Legal Zoom was exactly what we used. Quick, painless and easy. Luckily our town does not require a business license. Thank you for the refresher.

    Brandon Rollins · July 6, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Glad you can vouch for Legal Zoom, too, Melissa. It’s pretty great in a pinch.

Liz Kilcher · July 2, 2020 at 10:03 am

helpful info, thanks

LucidBread · July 2, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Perfect guideline for budding entrepreneurs 🙂

Ruslan Sokolov · July 3, 2020 at 12:09 am

Thank you very much for useful and short information!

Crystal Bean · July 3, 2020 at 8:42 am

A straight to the point guide that anyone looking to start a business should read. I personally used LegalZoo
To help with our LLC. The process was easy.

Lula Bathe · July 3, 2020 at 11:46 am

A simple giudeline to get you started . Wonderful !

Deepak S · July 3, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for information and guidance.its will really help us.

sachin jankar · July 4, 2020 at 8:23 am

Point to point information 👍

usha · July 5, 2020 at 8:04 am

helpful info, thanks

Aubrey Daniels · July 5, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Great information! Thank you for sharing

Kakhaber Khmelidze · July 5, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for the info.

Scott Cady · July 5, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Helpful. Look forward to using the steps.

Hemant Gupta · July 6, 2020 at 4:47 am

Hi Pangea Marketing.
Thanks a ton for all this information. I got to know about services like LegalZoom which can be a real saviour.
This article really helped with the legal aspect of creating a business to prevent any hiccups in the future. Thank you once again.

Richard Hicks · July 7, 2020 at 7:21 am

Good tips for new businesses. Pretty straightforward!

Susan Parent · July 8, 2020 at 7:31 am

Really informative saving this website for the future.

Javier Vallejo · July 8, 2020 at 3:20 pm

a perfect guide, thank you very much

Mansi · July 9, 2020 at 7:04 am

Very informative for beginners. MBA courses do not teach things that can be learnt practically or through external references like blogs..

    Brandon Rollins · July 9, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Thank you! As someone with an MBA, I hear you – there’s some stuff they just don’t teach you in school that you really ought to know!

Sultan Mohammad · July 10, 2020 at 6:07 am

Great information.. thank you so much

StefanoIceCubeR · July 10, 2020 at 9:36 am

in italy it’s way more complicated!

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