How to Start a Sole Proprietorship

Starting your own business is exciting and gratifying, but all of the start up procedures can be daunting. There are paperwork and legal issues when starting any business, but the sole proprietorship is the least cumbersome. Here are the steps you need to follow to get your sole proprietorship up and running.

Steps for Starting a Sole Proprietorship

The first step is to pick an appropriate name for your business. You want the business name to reflect your products and services but still be creative and eye catching. If you believe your business will be a huge success and expand greatly, you may want to consider getting the name trademarked. That way no one else can use the same name and customers will always associate it with your products and services. The name must be memorable and distinctive to receive trademark protection. It needs to be something creative but still reflective of your product or service. Names such as Joe’s Bakery of wouldn’t be appropriate for your average trademarked business name. Something along the lines of The Sweet Tooth would be more distinctive. Once you have a few names picked out ask for opinions before making the final decision.

Now that you know the name you want for the business, you have to find out if it's available. You can check with your county clerk's office to see if the name you chose is already taken. You should also do a federal or state trademark search. Then, if you plan on doing business on-line you will need to check on the availability of domain names. You want a domain name that exactly matches your business name if possible. If not, be sure you can get a domain name with at least part of your business name included. Once you have settled on a name you will need to register it with the state or federal government, and file a fictitious business name for trademark protection. Where you file will depend on your state. Call your county clerk's office for advice. You will also want to go ahead and register your domain name so that no one else can select it.

Next, you will need to acquire all licenses and permits required for your type of business. If you plan on having employees you will need a federal EIN or employer identification number. You can do this for free on the IRS website. Depending on the type of business you are going to be running you will need other federal licenses and permits. Contact your local small business association or the IRS for help in this matter. \n\nYour state may also require certain licenses and permits such as occupational licenses and sales tax permits. If you have employees you will have to register with your state department of labor, and depending on the nature of your business, you may have to get environmental permits. Check your state website for information on the licenses and permits required.\n\nYou will also need to check with your local government agencies to find out what licenses and permits they require. Most require a basic business license at the least, which you can get at the county clerk’s office. All the information you require should be available through the various local government agencies. Just be sure and check with each one so you are attending to all of your tax and licensing requirements.

Now, you are all set to start your sole proprietorship and open your business. Just print some business cards, advertise, and draw the customers in!


  • Pick more than one name in case your first choice isn't available\nContact a lawyer for more information\nContact the IRS for tax information if you are unsure


  • Remember to pay your taxes