How to Start Small Business in Tennessee

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Tennessee requires small business owners to follow state regulations when starting a new enterprise. Check with the state government for incorporation issues, and with local governments for zoning or licensing requirements.


Create a business plan that describes the vision and mission of your small business in a few pages. Include background information about your enterprise, an operational plan, a marketing plan, and a financial plan. Check the Tennessee government website for small businesses for helpful information.

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Select a location that is most appropriate for your business. Make sure it is customer-friendly and in compliance with local zoning laws.

Obtain financing for your business. Calculate your start-up costs and determine if your personal savings will be enough to cover these expenses. Consider getting a government-backed loan or grant, or a loan from your bank or other financial institution. Also consider sourcing for funds from your family, colleagues, and friends.

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Choose a business name that will give customers a hint about your products or services so as to help you build a customer base. Register the name with the Tennessee Department of State if you want to use one other than your own personal name. Registration is not mandatory for general partnerships and sole proprietorships. Filing fee is $20.

Register for state taxes with the Tennessee Deparment of Revenue. Depending on the type of business you will start, you will need to register for tax-specific identification numbers, unemployment insurance tax, excise tax as well as sales and use tax.