Monday, January 12, 2009

How To Register Your Business

Now that I've operated a business in three different states and spoken to several different accountants and lawyers on this topic, I think I finally feel a little more qualified to help others take the necessary steps to register their business, making their business name official and legal within the United States, local state, and local city of operation. Please note that I am NOT a professional accountant or attorney, and that you should still seek out professional help when making decisions about what type of business to operate and/or how to manage your tax situation- many local small business centers can provide free help if professional help is not yet in your budget. Also note that each state and each city has a different set of requirements for businesses and that you need to seek out the resources within your local community in order to have the most accurate information. What I can do is help you figure out where to go, what to ask, and what to expect.

Why should you register your business with the government?

  • To open a separate business bank account to manage your biz finances separately
  • To establish history in case you ever need to apply for a business loan to grow your biz
  • To have legal documentation of your business name
  • To collect and pay the appropriate sales & income tax (remember that thing about death & taxes?)
  • To purchase tax-free wholesale goods or products for your business or resale
  • To separate your personal tax record from your business tax record
  • To get the appropriate tax deductions that come with running a business
  • To have the peace of mind that you are indeed making your business a legal entity

What will you need to register your business?

Register for your U.S. Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number)
- By Phone w/ Human Assistance: 1-800-829-4933
- Online w/ Computerized Assistance:

Determine Your State & Local License & Tax Requirements
- Online Resources:
- In Person Resources: Search for your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Administration to schedule an appointment with someone who can help you find all of the resources you need to register your business on the local and state level. Local and state laws vary greatly when it comes to operating a business, so it's important to seek out your local resources for the most relevant and localized information.

Register your Trademark, Patent, or Copyright:

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. great advice. i felt so great when i registered mine :)

  2. I LOVE you for this! It's on the top of my 2009 To Do List.

  3. Ann you are such a giver and sharer! You are truly a lovecat! :) Kenny Kim

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I am actually at this point right now in my business (I need to register it)...I do have a question though. Why do I need to get a US Federal Employer Number? I am the only person in my business and will not be hiring anyone, so do I still need it? Thanks again!


  5. jfeely - for all the reasons I listed above... that have nothing to do with hiring employees.


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