Start a Business in Missouri
GUIDE: START A BUSINESS > PART SIX
Register Your Business
Ready to start a business in Missouri? You’ll want to make sure your business is legal. Below, you’ll find the six steps you need to take to make sure you have the registrations, licenses and permits for your new business.
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So what’s required and who has to do it?
Let’s get started with your first six steps:
- Decide on your business structure
- Register with the Missouri Secretary of State
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Register for Missouri business taxes
- File paperwork to hire employees
- Check for city and county licenses and permits, and obtain industry licenses
Now let’s break these steps down.
1. Decide on your business structure.
All businesses must determine a legal organization that defines the rights and liabilities of participants in the business’s ownership, control, personal liability, lifespan and financial structure.
There are different forms of business organization:
- Sole proprietorship –The vast majority of small businesses start out as sole proprietorships. These firms are owned by one person, usually the individual who has day-to-day responsibility for running the business.
- Partnership – In this organization, two or more people share ownership of a single business. Like sole proprietorships, the law does not distinguish between the business and its owners.
- Limited liability company (LLC) – An LLC is designed to provide the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – A limited liability partnership provides limited liabilities to the partners where each partner is not responsible or liable for the other partner’s actions of negligence.
- Corporation – A corporation is considered by law to be a unique entity, separate and apart from those who own it. A corporation can be taxed, sued and enter into contractual agreements.
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2. Register with the Missouri Secretary of State.
Protect your business name by making it legal. To register a business name, contact the Secretary of State for application forms and filing requirements.
Check on the availability of your business name by searching the Secretary of State’s online database. For sole proprietors using a name other than your own, register the name of your business with the Secretary of State by filing a Fictitious Name Registration.
To register a business name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership in Missouri:
- Sole proprietors using their own name do not need to register their business name.
- Check on the availability of your business name by searching the Secretary of State’s online database.
- Sole proprietors using a name other than their own, need to register the name of the business with the Secretary of State by calling (573) 751-4153 or filling out the Fictitious Name Registration form.
- If a partnership is doing business under a name other than the owners’ true names, a fictitious name filing must be made with the Secretary of State and renewed every five years. It is also recommended that a partnership agreement be written.
To register a Corporation, LLC or LLP, contact the Secretary of State’s office for application forms and filing requirements.
- Corporations file articles of incorporation or articles of organization (LLC). This can be done online with the Secretary of State.
3. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Employers with employees, business partnerships and corporations must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Even if you are a sole proprietor and don’t have employees, it is still good practice to obtain an EIN. It can be used in place of your personal Social Security Number to protect against identify theft. You may also need it to file government forms and banks often require it when applying for loans.
4. Register for Missouri business taxes.
Now that you have a legal business, it’s time to pay your Missouri business taxes. Contact the Missouri Department of Revenue to complete tax forms based on your business activity including products sold and used in your business. There are tax assistance offices across the state of Missouri providing services for business owners including volunteer-based tax preparation.
You can also register with the Missouri Department of Labor simultaneously if you will have employees.
5. Ready to hire employees?
If you are hiring employees you will definitely need to file for a federal employer identification number or EIN for tax filing and reporting purposes. (Some banking institutions also require an EIN when applying for funding.) You will also need to register with the Missouri Division of Employment Security for unemployment tax purposes. For a deep dive on what to do if you are employing people, read the State of Missouri Employer’s Tax Guide.
You may also need to carry coverage for Workers Compensation Insurance. Check to see if you are required to carry coverage at Missouri Division of Workers Compensation.
6. Check for city/county licenses and permits.
The state may require additional licenses or business registration paperwork to be completed. It is also important to check with your local city clerk office where you intend to do business to determine licensing requirements.
Some professions, occupations or activities require special licenses or certifications. Research industry licenses to find out if your industry has any special requirements. The Missouri SBTDCs also offer a guide to licenses and permits that includes where to find out information on Occupational Licenses. Finally, check with the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture maintains information about licenses and permits specific to agriculture.
Tap these organizations to get help with registrations, licenses and permits
These Resource Partners can help you figure out what you need to do to set up your business legally in your town or city. Head over to The Resource Navigator to further filter your search by business industry, zip code/city/distance and/or specific need.
Want to filter this list further?
Want to know who does this in your community? Head over to The Resource Navigator to customize your search by business industry, zip code/city/distance and/or specific need—or just give us a call at 866-870-6500 and we’ll make your Personal Action Plan of next-step resources for free.
More resources to help your business get legal
You may find these resources helpful, too, as you set up your business.
- Starting a Business in Missouri Checklist
- Legal Services (The Resource Navigator)
- Starting a Business Checklist (Missouri SBTDC)
>> Remember if you need help, give us a call at 866-870-6500 or send us a message. We can guide you through the next steps you need to take to start your business.
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