How and Where to Register a Business

It may seem trivial, but even the biggest conglomerates of this day and age started small.

Virgin founder Richard Branson still hasn’t lost sight of this fact even as his ventures aim to take us beyond this world. “Start small but always think big,” Branson once stated. 

It’s somewhat of a copout concerning business advice, but it truly is easy to oversee the rather mundane aspects of entrepreneurship when we are surrounded by huge conglomerates that have been staples in our lives and our culture since we were children

Heck, look at Disney. We’ve all seen the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, (and if you haven’t you’re missing out on an American gem) and now, in this skeptic writer’s opinion, based on the way things are going, the word “Disney” may one day become synonymous with “movie.” 

But let’s face the facts: Large, profitable companies aren’t formed overnight like dew on moist grass. 

The start of any entrepreneurial venture is understandably daunting, especially if it is your first time. As your mind creeps closer towards action, coming up with a product or service is exciting; however, the nitty-gritty details of creating a business are not so lively. 

Well, let’s assume you have already found a product or service from which your business will make revenue. What’s next?

You will likely be asking yourself multiple times in one form or another “What are the small aspects of making a business that I need to get out of the way to get to the fun stuff?”

Registering your business is a basic but necessary step in getting your enterprise officially up and running. It also will grant your business any legal permits that may be required by the state or city. 

The key variables to be considerate of when registering your business are whether or not you even need to register, whether you need to register federally, and what state and/or local agencies you need to register with. 

For time’s sake, we have condensed the process down to the most essential information for your reading pleasure. 

If you are doing business as a sole proprietor under your name, then congratulations you can stop reading this article as you don’t need to register your business with the state or federal government. 

Let’s now assume your business is an LLC, partnership or corporation. You likely do not need to register with the federal government, but in the off chance you are starting a non-profit corporation and are intending on having your company be exempt from taxes (you sneaky dog you), then you will indeed need to register with the Fed, aka IRS and fill out Form 2553. These companies are referred to as ‘S Corporations’. 

Now, for those who live by the now-classic mantra ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me,’ you are going to be running a for-profit business. 

For clarity purposes, we will assume you intend on doing business out of one location and most of your revenue and employees will be based out of one state, at least initially. Your company would then need to register with the state to become a legal business entity

Before we get any further, you need to have some crucial information decided about your business to register with your appropriate state.

This includes the business name, official address, share value and amount (for corporations), and all owners at the time of registering. 

The specifics of registering with each state vary, but oftentimes registering with the state is as easy as following steps located on the Secretary of State’s website. In some instances, you will need to register with specific business agencies. 

Thankfully, according to the Small Business Administration, most businesses can be registered in their entirety for less than $300

All necessary addresses and forms for any state can be found through the Small Business Administration’s website as a starting point if you are wary of Googling for your state.

The next step is registering an agent for your business. Given that you are the entrepreneur in this scenario, you are fully invested in your venture (duh). You want to be aware of all documents, mail and various forms your business receives. 

You then would likely be the first registered agent of your business. A registered agent is essentially the point of contact for paperwork for your company from a legal standpoint. 

One thing to note here is that the role of a registered agent is often outsourced to other organizations as companies expand.

Lastly, remember to check with the office of your city and county to ensure that your business obtains any necessary permits required for operation. 

More often than not this is not the case, but a couple common local requirements businesses need to obtain depending on the city and type of business include sign permits and zoning permits. 

The facets of making a successful business are largely dependent upon the industry, the time of creation, the demand for the product or service, and the ability to promote

These vary from business to business but registering as an official business is the first universal detail often overlooked. 

No matter how many have been served at McDonald’s or how many hours of Disney+ are watched every day, every business we find begging for our attention started simply by registering.

It’s cliche, yes, but even the most successful business owners started small.

Echoing the advice of Richard Branson, one of the keys to creating a successful business is to not get ahead of yourself. Making checklists and focusing on small yet necessary tasks, especially in the early stages, is crucial in creating a mindset of daily progression. 

Simply thinking about the end goal won’t get you where you want to be, and it certainly won’t do any good in getting your business off the ground. 

Perhaps Michal Ventura, founder of the world-renowned strategy and design firm Sub Rosa puts it best, “There is no finish line. There are only mile markers.”

I’ll avoid more semantics because you get the picture. Take it one step at a time and make that vision a reality. Best of luck. 

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