Starting a business in Missouri is easy, just follow these 10 steps:
Step 1: Make A Plan For Your Business
To dramatically increase the odds you’ll get the most out of your business, kick things off by building a game plan that hones in on your pitch, irons out a structured executive summary, creates initial budgeting forecasts, addresses ideal markets, and so forth. It’s so much easier than it might sound, especially when you take advantage of our free resource below.
Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Register Your Missouri Business
Your next major task is going to be registering your business with the state of Missouri. Before you can do that, though, you have to figure out what type of business structure you want to form: an LLC, S Corp, C Corp, or Sole Proprietorship. Then, you can read our detailed guide on naming your business. Let’s take a quick look at each of the business structures:
Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.
Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.
Step 3: Determine Your Tax Obligations
Now that your business is an officially registered brand with the state you can get your tax ID and get any other obligations dealt with. Many of these little micro-steps are required to get proper permits and licensing later on. Just be sure to do your homework.
Take Action: If you’re doing this on your own, bookmark the Missouri Dept. of Revenue website which has all the information on New and Established Business Taxes to get you started. You can also be prudent by bookmarking their Business Tax Registration page as well.
Step 4: Obtain Necessary Business Licenses And Permits
Unlike the network of more than 6,000 different caves in Missouri, the state’s regulatory environment is startup-friendly in an increasing amount of ways as its population is trending towards a younger more progressive electorate. Depending on what business you’re going in to, it could be easy or a bit complex. Either way, afterwards you'll be legally compliant and ready to officially bring your business to life!
- For DYI’ers use the Missouri Business Development Program Licenses and Registration Checklist to ensure you get everything done the right way.
- For help finding the licenses you’ll need, a Business License Service is what we highly recommend looking into. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Step 5: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you. Read our review of The 5 Best Banks for Startups and Entrepreneurs
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Step 6: Choose A Location For your Business
Did you know Missouri rubs shoulders with eight different states, it’s two biggest cities (St. Louis and Kansas City) are on east and west borders, yet it’s sporting more beaches than California? This means you've got massive regional access and tons of options when it comes to location. Two things matter:
- How many resources you have in the area to help grow the brand.
- How much easier or harder the location makes it to manage the business.
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: Fund Your Business
They say in Missouri, other than BBQ sauce all you need is ketchup mustard, salt and pepper. They like to keep it simple, most of the time anyway. So don’t let the funding monster swallow you whole. There are tons of options today that means far less debt, far less stress, and far fewer strings attached. Social Lending and CrowdFunding are two.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like cows and tipping. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Create Your Business Website
No one’s insinuating your business website needs to be as well-designed and magnificent as the Great Arch in St. Louis. But your website does need to be there to serve as the digital gateway to your brand where people can investigate, engage, contact you, and share what you’re up to with their own networks.
Take Action: Unless you’re a 100% ecommerce company (in which case we’d recommend Shopify), check out a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. They are all extremely easy to use and out-of-the-box. At the end of the day you’ll have a professional business website without pulling any hair out.
Step 9: Market Your Business
We weren’t sure if we wanted to add this step or not because it’s such a big can of worms. But marketing, like having a website to help, isn’t optional and there’s no end to the budget-consuming complexity you can reach. It really comes down to people skills and the ability to serve your customer. Honestly.
Take Action: No brand is an island unto itself. Who do you intend on partnering with? Who would work well with your brand that already commands a lot of your niche’s attention? Networking is just as powerful for your brand in terms of B2B and is it B2P.
Step 10: Continue Learning And Stay Inspired
Startup Savant would like you to consider adding us to your Rolodex of useful and reliable sources of not just motivational content directly from fellow change-makers, but savvy tools and plenty of brain-fodder to keep you on your toes. It’s our pleasure and a privilege indeed.