starting a business

5 Steps to Registering Your Small Business

Getting the urge to strike out on your own to satisfy your entrepreneurial itch?

Before you begin, be sure to obtain the necessary permits and licenses you’ll need to operate your small business legally.

Whether you’re ready to launch your new start-up, or you’re growing an existing enterprise into a thriving business, your business must be run in accordance with the law.

Where’s the best source of information?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) explains everything you need to do to register your small business, making sure you’re operating on the right side of the law for any necessary licenses, permits, or registrations that may be required.

To register your business, there are five basic steps to follow: 

  • Determine the legal structure of the business:

You can choose to function as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, etc.

The Choose Your Business Structure section on sba.gov has more information on this topic for every structure you choose.

  • Register your business name

You’ll need to register your business name using a “DBA”, “Doing Business As”, “Fictitious Name” or “Assumed Name” as the legal name of your enterprise.

Get the DBA filing requirements for every state, along with the District of Columbia, at the Choose and Register Your Business page of the SBA’s website.

  • Obtain a Federal Tax ID 

A Federal Tax ID is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a SS-4, from the Internal Revenue Service. The SBA offers guidance on obtaining your EIN, with links directly to the appropriate IRS pages.

You can call the IRS directly at 800-829-4933 or apply for an EIN online.

  • Register with your state revenue agency

You must register with your state after securing a Federal EIN.

Depending on your business’ location, you may need to get a Sales Tax Permit or a Vendor’s License from your local and/or state government.

Begin the process by education yourself with the rules and requirements in your state, which can be found on the Register With State Agencies page.

  • Obtain licenses and permits  

Depending on your line of work, you may need a general permit or an industry-specific one.

The U.S. Small Business Association includes everything you need for Federal and state-specific licenses and permits.

Each of the five steps described above are covered in detail on the SBA’s website. In addition, there’s a wealth of information (e.g. obtaining loans/grants, local assistance, self-guided learning, etc.) to help ensure that your small business thrives.

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