You’ve ironed out your idea and done all the planning to make your dream a reality, but filing the paperwork to make your business legal while protecting your brand and assets? Yep, it’s time once again to summon all the determination and patience you have to spare because there are quite a few boxes to check off on this journey!
Stay the course with our new milestone, Set Up Your Business, which guides you through everything you need to name your business, choose your business structure, get an EIN, and apply for your sales tax and other licenses and permits.
Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind as you get started.
1. Start the trademarking process immediately.
- Run a Preliminary Trademark Search. Have a name for your business in mind? Infringing on an existing trademark could cause costly legal trouble down the road. Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office tool to find out if it’s taken or available.
- Consider trademarking more than one name. Have alternate names you really like? You might want to trademark them for future branding endeavors.
- Prepare to spend and wait. You can apply for a trademark in minutes, but it may take months to get it approved, and you don’t know if it will be, even after spending roughly between $225-$600 in fees, depending on your trademark class, to apply. Hang in there! This is the right move to protect your business and intellectual property!
Name Your Business now.
2. Use the EIN assistant.
Believe it or not, the IRS created a really simple tool to help you get your tax ID immediately. You have to complete the application in one session though — you won’t be able to save and return at a later time — so have the following ready to apply:
- Your business name
- Your business address
- The name of your business’ responsible party
- The Social Security Number of your business’ responsible party
- Type of business entity
- Your reason for applying
Get an EIN now.
3. Hire a third party to help form your entity.
Experienced professionals can handle complicated paperwork for you, keep you apprised of notifications and alerts that might otherwise get buried, and keep things as simple as possible while mitigating your risk.
Look into hiring:
- Filing services like Incfile, Legal Zoom, and Swyft Filings
- A lawyer or accountant — see the resources for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Find local assistance” tool.
4. Apply for your sales tax license in person.
If you sell taxable products or services, which you probably do, you need to have a sales tax license to collect sales tax from your customers at the point of sale (POS) and pass it on to the government. And you may even need it long before you open — for example, to pass state inspections — depending on your industry. Applying by mail can take weeks, but if you apply in person you can get the license right then and there, a lifesaver when you’re time-crunched, which leads us to another point…
5. Expect all approvals to take twice as long as you anticipate.
Permit and licensure requirements vary a lot from industry to industry, state to state, and sometimes even at the county or city level, but one thing is for sure: The approval process is going to take longer than you think. Be patient. Use this time to reach out to your business community for mentorship, camaraderie, and sage advice.