Outlines step-by-step how to register a business in the U.S, what you need to consider to register a business and what to watch out for.
Registering a business in the U.S. is an easy process, and the process depends on the type and size of your enterprise. The requirements often differ between the different states, but the process always starts with finding a unique name for your company before defining a business structure. Before registering its name, you should also consider choosing a DBA (doing business as).
Read the article below, and before starting to register a U.S. business, we advise that the TRUIC business website has all the valuable resources you need.
How to register a business in the U.S. – crucial steps
1. Determine a Unique Name and Check Its Availability
This is an important step because determining if the name you have chosen is unique to your state prevents your business registration from being denied.
Search Business Name Availability
Check the availability of your chosen name by running a business name search. This is done on the State’s Secretary of State website. An available name is required for formal company structures like LLCs, corporations, and for filing a DBA. In some states, informal business structures like sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not required to do a state-level name search.
Availability of a Domain Name
Sooner or later, you will need a website. While checking for name availability, you can also look for an available web domain that matches your chosen business name. Secure the name by purchasing it.
Search for Federal Trademarks
It is wise to run a search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System to see if the name you have decided on is not registered as a trademark. If planning to trademark your name, this is a good time to register it.
Other Naming Precautions
A quick internet search on the major search engines and social media will reveal if someone else is using your prospective business name for a similar enterprise. You should change the name if there is someone else with a similar name and a strong online presence.
When naming a business that will be structured as an LLC or a Corporation, you must ensure the name reflects this, by including the terms, fully or abbreviated, into the name. Also, the company name must not include words to confuse it with any government entities.
2. Choosing a Business Structure
Before you register your business name, decide on the most suitable structure. The business structure determines how you set up and run your enterprise. It also determines your personal liability if things go bad, and how you and your business are taxed.
The most common business structures are:
Sole proprietorship: If you don’t choose a business structure, your business is considered a sole proprietorship by default. This means your personal assets are not separate from your business.
General partnership: Two or more people that own a business together can form a general partnership. This is an informal business structure and offers no asset protection to its partners. Limited liability partnerships (LLP) are structured to protect all partners from any business debt.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs): LLCs are the most popular business structure for small business owners. With an LLC, personal assets are protected from any business liabilities, including lawsuits. Members of an LLC are taxed for both profits and losses of the LLC on their personal tax returns.
C-Corp: Any enterprise registered as a C-Corp becomes a separate entity from its owners or shareholders, and offers the most protection for the personal assets of the owners. C-Corps are also seen as separate entities from the owners by the IRS. When the C-Corp makes a profit, it is taxed, but the dividends paid to the shareholders are also taxed.
3. Registering Your Business
Now that you have chosen your business name and structure and know the name is unique, you can register your company with your state. Every state has different procedures, so visit the Secretary of State Website to determine the steps to follow.
Reserve the business name if you aren’t sure what structure you want to form. If you are filing with your state for an LLC or Corporation, the name is registered with the state during the filing process.
LLCs and corporations must also choose a registered agent and add its details to the papers filed. Other requirements for an LLC are the filing of the Articles of Organization, creating an Operating Agreement, and getting an EIN (Employer Identification Number).
Corporations need to choose the initial directors, their share structure and file their formation documents. They must also get an EIN.
4. Filing a DBA
In most states, you need to file a DBA if you plan to use one. Using another name to your legal business name can help you establish your brand. All the above business structures can apply for a DBA, but the filing does differ.
After registering your business, you must apply for the various state licenses and permits. You also must register it with the IRS and local taxes. You are now ready to focus on being an entrepreneur and having fun as you grow your business and provide exceptional service to your customers.