Tue 11 Aug 2015 | By:

How to Start a Business in South Carolina: 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanTruth be told, one way or another every new business has a plan. Some of just far superior and lead to much more efficient management and organization. Around here we’re big fans of professional business planning software that helps streamline the process, break it down into steps, and at the end you’ve got a presentation-ready plan to show investors, potential partners/stakeholders, lending institutions, or even CrowdFunders!

Take Action: Seize upon our free and easy email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide tons of other great tools along the way.


Step 2: Choose Biz-Structure & Incorporate

How to Choose a Business StructureNow you’ve got to choose the type of legal entity/business structure you’d like to create based on what’s best for your ambitions then incorporate it. The benefits are many, but be sure you understand how SC treats each one under the law. In the process you’ll secure your brand name and register your business with the state. Online incorporation providers really come in handy here if you’re unsure what to do and don’t have a lawyer in your pocket – just an FYI.

Take Action: As this aspect of starting a business can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick-guides for the most popular entities if you want to skip over to those.


Step 3: Sync with the South Carolina Tax Code

Small Business TaxesJust remember, SC is considered by many to be the home of Southern Hospitality. And while they’re very startup-friendly and their regulatory environment isn’t as complex as the system of branches in a giant Angel Oak at St. Johns, there’ll be some hoops to jump through. Incorporation providers often handle sourcing all the paperwork and some offer far less expensive legal coaching/counseling in their packages.

Take Action: If you’re doing this on your own be sure to bookmark the South Carolina Dept. of Revenue’s MyDORWAY system. Also, bookmark their free online PDF that fills you in on their Business Tax Credits.


Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesBefore you can begin marketing and advertising to South Carolinians you’ll need to register your business offering with the state, request filings documents, get a general business license and potentially more depending on the nature of your business and where you choose to locate. If you don’t work with an incorporation provider, SC has a Business Filings option which is similar.

  1. For DYI’ers head over to the Licenses, Permits & Registration page on SC.gov. Looks like they have an online chat option which is nice!
  2. For $99 you could get IncFile’s Business License Package which is amazing! They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels for you, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.


Step 5: Create a Dedicated Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountThis is the easiest step but it has some of the heaviest impacts on your brand’s future. First, pick a great banking institution based on benefits, waved/smaller fees, etc., then establish dedicated business accounts that are in NO WAY connected to personal accounts of any kind. Then once you link your accounts with your accounting software, you’re set. Now it’s all about cash management.

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Step 6: Pick a Stellar South Carolina Location

How to Choose a Business LocationMost natives in this state were taught their manners before they learned to walk, so in general whether you set up shop in the bigger cities like Columbia or smaller coastal gems like Ridgeland, you’ll love it. Some of the most cherishes cities (in part because of lower costs of living) are Seven Oaks, Mauldin and Five Forks. What a fun decision to have to make.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.


Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform

How to Finance a BusinessFirst and foremost, your business accounts and accounting software RUN the show folks. They’re where all the magic happens. Financing should first come from good management of resources (profits/tax money/investment capital). After that, South Carolina has everything under the sun including vast VC networks, entrepreneur groups and foundations, state and county-level programs and funds, tax incentives/credits, you name it.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Sweet Tea Vodka and Hugh Puppies. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.


Step 8: Design & Publish a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteNo one’s insinuating your business site needs to be a stilling and awe inspiring as Botany Bay Sunrise in Edisto Island…though it wouldn’t hurt. Listen, you can’t have warm homemade biscuits without butter and you can’t be serious about your brand if you aren’t sporting a responsive, functional, and easy to use website. Thankfully it’s much easier and less expensive to get one up and running these days.

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department the first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there aren’t too many yet. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.


Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelOutsourcing, or team building, is the name of the game for most people just entering the startup era. Why? Because they lack the specific skill-sets it takes, whether that be in terms of digital marketing methods or on-the-ground sales. No shame in it! “Marketing” is moving too fast and expanding too quickly for most sane people.

Take Action: Looking for somewhere to begin other than a vapid social media profile page? Start local. Start with your neighbors. Start with friends at the local book club. Start by throwing a neighborhood BBQ. Start with your very first users/clients because they hold the keys to the hordes of others looking for a solution like yours right behind them.


Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsOne of our favorite things about South Carolina are the southern gardens, for example Magnolia Plantation (especially during the annual butterfly release). In fact, we consider Startup Savant a sort of garden but our flowers are savvy tools and software reviews, interviews with fellow change-makers, guides and learning-based content, and more. Take a stroll!

Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories/interviews directly from innovative professionals (change-makers) like you.

Please note that this guide is not a legal advice nor should it be taken as such. This is solely used to share information. For questions on how to go about starting a new business in South Carolina, talk with your lawyer.

About Liesha Petrovich

Liesha is a small business owner of 20 years, host of Startup Savant, the owner of a karate dojo in Maine, and creator of Work Mobly. During free time she's with her family and working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship.