Why does registering and setting up my business matter?

Start your business

Talk with your business advisors to get your business started with its best foot forward.

Ready to do business? First, you need to make several one-time decisions and go through steps to get set up. You’ll need to consider your industry and plans as you make each of these decisions.

How do I set up a business?

Getting set up to do business legally is exciting. Work through this task list to make sure you’re ready to serve customers. Your business advisors—an attorney, CPA, or others—can help you make decisions.

Select a name.

Before registering your company, you’ll need a name that’s distinctive from other existing companies. Requirements vary by state. You should view your state-specific filing requirements and talk with your business advisors.

Choose a legal structure.

Your legal structure impacts your business and personal liability, funding options, and taxes. Options include sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, corporation, and nonprofit.

The registration process and requirements vary by state, locality, and legal structure. You may also need to register for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). An advisor can help you decide which structure makes the most sense and help with the registration process.

Get permits and licenses.

You’ll want to comply with municipal, state, and federal regulations. You can start by reviewing the state and local business and corporations websites to understand the permits, licenses, and operating fees needed to legally run your business.

Your state, locality, industry, and business model may affect which permits, licenses, and regular fillings you’ll need. You may need to get insurance for your employees—including disability and workers’ compensation—and you’ll need to decide about providing health insurance.

You can put together this information yourself, or a business advisor can help.

Register your business domain name.

In the short run, getting a website up and running will help you promote a baseline awareness and presence. In the long run, it can protect your business. Make sure the domain name you select isn’t a registered domain name. (There are companies that can help with this selection.)

Getting email up and running comes next. Then, decide on ecommerce and social media needs. There are many companies and agencies that can help you with email and website hosting. Remember to register yourself as the owner and administrator of the domain name.

Consider trademarks, service marks, and DBA.

If you want to mark your product or service names, you’ll need to file trademark and service mark applications. This can happen at the state or federal level and must meet requirements that the mark is unique and doesn’t infringe on other approved marks. An attorney who specializes in trade/service marks can help.

You can also choose a DBA (Doing Business As) name. You might want to do this if you weren’t ready to commit to the company name you chose when you registered your business. There are specific requirements for DBAs, too, and advisors who can help you in the process.

This article is for informational purposes only. This content does not constitute business, legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You’re encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment professionals based on your specific credit needs and circumstances. We don’t make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information. We don’t endorse any third-party companies, products, or services, if any, described herein. And we take no liability for your use of this information.