How to Open a Sole Proprietorship

By Cindy Hill

More than 22 million people run sole proprietorships in the United States, making it the most popular form of American business. One reason for this popularity is that sole proprietorships are the simplest type of business to form and start operating. Formal business requirements for a sole proprietorship are minimal, and a sole proprietor has the option of transforming her business into a partnership, LLC or corporation later on.


Most states do not require a sole proprietorship to register with the state business registrar to operate. All a business owner has to do is start running the business, as long as it is operated under the owner's name and not operating in a regulated industry. Writing a business plan for your sole proprietorship will help you keep a firm focus on goals through the startup period, and will help when you are seeking credit or financing for your business, but it is not a legal requirement. Maintaining separate ledgers that document your sole proprietorship business income and expenses will help significantly at tax time, but these are also not a legal requirement of forming a sole proprietorship.

DBA Name

If you want to operate your sole proprietorship under a name other than your own legal name, most states require that you first register the name as a DBA -- "doing business as" name -- with the appropriate state or local regulatory agency before opening for business. A fictitious name associated with the product or services you sell will help you brand and market your sole proprietorship, even if your personal name remains part of the DBA. For example, Mary Smith Custom Sewing better conveys the nature of your business than just using the name Mary Smith.

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A sole proprietor operating a business in a regulated industry is typically required to obtain professional or occupational licenses from the state before opening for business. Professionals like lawyers and architects, as well as individuals working in regulated fields like cosmetology, tattoo artistry or mortuary services, need professional licenses from their relevant state agencies. Other types of businesses may require transportation or hazardous waste permits. Construction of a new store or office, or conversion of part of your home into a business, may require local zoning or building permits. These regulations may also put restrictions on parking, lighting and signs for your sole proprietorship.

Tax Registration

If you are going to hire employees to work for your sole proprietorship, you will need to obtain an employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service. You will also likely need to register with your state tax agency before hiring employees or selling products for which you must collect sales tax. You will need to pay self-employment taxes on any profit your sole proprietorship generates. To do so, report your income and expenses as a sole proprietor on Schedule C, Profit and Loss From Business, of your personal Form 1040 federal income tax return and its equivalent at the state level.

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How to Register a Sole Proprietorship Business in Fulton County, Georgia


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What Do You Need to Register a Business Name?

For many customers, your business name is the first point of reference they have with regard to your company. Leave a good impression, and you could be well on your way to making a lifelong customer. Give a bad impression, and that person might never give your business a chance. How you register the name of your business depends on the type of name you're registering.

Rules and Regulations for a Sole Proprietorship

Starting your new business as a sole proprietorship is the easiest and least expensive legal business structure you can use, as opposed to forming a corporation or limited liability company. As a sole proprietor, you are the sole owner of your business and generally have the flexibility to operate your business as you see fit, subject to the rules and regulations that apply to similar businesses in your state and local area.

What Forms Need to Be Filed for a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is one method of organizing and operating a business. A sole proprietorship operates as an alter ego of the owner, not as an independent legal entity, giving the sole proprietor complete control of the business. Depending on your state, you may or may not need to file a form to create a sole proprietorship. However, you should contact the Secretary of State's office to determine the proper procedure. For example, the state of Indiana requires all sole proprietors to register with the Indiana Department of Revenue by submitting a Business Tax Application if the business sells products or food.

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