Guide To Starting A Business

15. How to Register a Business

Next Read: How to Get a Business Tax ID Number

Running A Business

How to Register a Business

Mar 17, 2023 • 6 min read
Table of Contents

      One of the most important parts of starting a new business is making it official. This may require registration with the federal, state, or local government and other entities. Since requirements can vary by type of business and location, you might wonder how to register a business. Here is some information that can help guide you through the necessary business filings. 

      Registering your business name.

      There are many things you need to know about naming your small business. Importantly, you’ll want to decide how you’ll register its name. If you form certain entities, such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), then you will likely be required to register with your Secretary of State or Business Office. This will also ensure your business name is unique. 

      You may also decide to register a fictitious business name. For example, if you have a sole proprietorship and your name is James Jones, then you may call your company, “Jones Plumbing.” “Jones Plumbing” isn’t your legal business name, but you can still use it as a fictitious business name, often called “doing business as” name or “DBA.” Most states require you to register DBA names with state agencies as well.

      Getting a registered agent.

      When you register your business with your state government agency, you will likely have to select a registered agent. All LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and nonprofit organizations need registered agents.

      A registered agent is a person who is designated to receive official papers and legal documents on behalf of your company. They must be located in the state where your business is registered. The registered agent may be an officer of the business, a member of a law firm, or someone else entirely who can take on the responsibilities of receiving official documents for the organization. 

      How to obtain a tax ID number.

      While you don’t have to technically “register” with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you will need to obtain a federal tax ID number, also called an Employer Identification Number (EIN). (This does not apply to sole proprietors with no employees.) Your EIN will be used to report employment taxes and file your federal tax return. You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website.    

      You will also likely have to obtain a state tax ID number and file state taxes annually. You can obtain your state tax ID number from your state tax agency.

      Registering for licenses and applying for permits.

      Many businesses must obtain special licenses or permits to operate. You may need a general business license, sales tax license, professional licenses for employees, sign permits, building occupation permits, health and safety permits, and others. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a webpage that details many federal and state requirements for licensing and fees. 

      Some common industries that must obtain licenses and permits include: 

      • Construction
      • Dry cleaning
      • Farming and agriculture
      • Plumbing
      • Restaurants
      • Retail
      • Vending machines
      • Electrical services
      • Firearms and ammunition
      • Alcohol sales
      • Aviation
      • Car sales
      • Fish and wildlife
      • Mining and drilling
      • Radio and television
      • Transportation

      Various government agencies oversee these industries and establish licensing and permit requirements, as well as set fees for obtaining permission to operate. 

      Registering your trademarks.

      You might want to trademark a logo design, symbol, or phrase that immediately identifies your unique entity. It distinguishes you from your competitors and helps define your brand. You can register trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by completing an application online.

      Local registration for businesses.

      You are not typically required to register your business with local (city or county) government agencies. However, you may need to obtain licenses or permits from local agencies or register your DBA if you use one. You should contact your local business association to find out what county or municipal registration requirements may exist. 

      Additionally, it can be beneficial to register with your local Chamber of Commerce (COC). The COC is a group of companies who meet and exchange information to help one another. This will open your organization to networking opportunities and help you learn more about your target audience in the community.

      Register your business and obtain the funding you need.

      There are many requirements for business registration at the federal, state, and local levels. It’s important to figure out what applies to you and remain in compliance. When you are ready for the next steps, Lendio can help you get the financing you need to develop a strong presence.

      Apply for a small business loan with Lendio’s simple application.

      Quickly compare financing options from multiple funders.

      Applying is free and won’t impact your credit

      Talk to a rep at (855) 853-6346
      Mon-Fri 7:30am-5pm MST

      About the author
      Brandy Abalos

      Brandy Abalos is a licensed attorney, content strategist, and marketing consultant for small businesses. She uses SEO tools to develop strong digital content for audiences who are learning how to navigate complex topics in law and business. When she is not writing, she seeks adventures with her three children, partner, and two corgis in Ohio.

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