How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Missouri

If you’re looking to start a new business in the state of Missouri, you’ve come to the right place!

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Manufacturing has been booming in Missouri in recent years — GM, Ford, and Boeing have all expanded factories there. Startups have also increased in recent years, thanks to low taxes, cheap electricity, and a push to make the state more business-friendly, which have all increased Missouri’s small business profile. Missouri has a varied geography — plains in the north, and the Ozark Mountains in the south. And, the confluence of the three greatest rivers in the U.S. — the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio. Missouri is known as “The Cave State,” thanks to 6,1000 known caves, which you can tour. One word of caution: in Natchez, Missouri, it’s illegal to give beer to an elephant. Just make sure you don’t do that and you’ll be fine starting up your business.

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Missouri

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Fun facts about starting a business in Missouri

Famous business founded in Missouri Magic Chef

Magic Chef (formerly the American Stove Company) is an appliance brand currently owned by CNA International Inc. In the 1850s John Ringen, a German immigrant to the United States, began a tinshop in St. Louis, Missouri. The business later sold housewares, early washing machines, and cooking stoves they called “quick meals.”

Famous entrepreneur born in Missouri James Cash Penney (J.C. Penny)

James Cash “J.C.” Penney (1875-1971) was a businessman and entrepreneur who founded the J. C. Penney stores in 1902. He was born in Hamilton, Missouri.

“A merchant who approaches business with the idea of serving the public well has nothing to fear from the competition.”

J.C. Penney
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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Missouri?

We strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure.

Here are 5 helpful steps to determine what is the best legal structure for your business:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Missouri.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
An LLC is a specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

Steps to starting an LLC in Missouri:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with any publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — Annual Report Filings -- not required in Missouri.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Missouri.

For help forming your LLC in Missouri we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Other Missouri resources for LLCs:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” Form here.
File your “Articles of Organization” here.

Missouri Registered Agents: Run a search here to find a registered agent. Every Missouri LLC must have an agent for service of process.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here. If your LLC has more than one member, you must get an EIN, even if you have no employees.

Missouri Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with one owner who pays personal income tax on profits from the business. With little government regulation, they are the simplest business to set up or take apart, making them popular among individual self contractors or business owners.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Missouri:

  • Step 1 — Name your business.
  • Step 2 — File an application for a fictitious name with the Secretary of State.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Missouri we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Other Missouri resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name, or an assumed business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Fictitious Name Filing: To file your “Registration of Fictitious Name,” you will first have to register with the Missouri Online Business Filing site. It is required in Missouri to file this form, if your business name is different from your legal name.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here. If you hire employees, you will need an EIN.

Licenses: Search for what licenses may be required of your business here.

Missouri Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Partnership
A partnership is created whenever two or more people do business together for profit and share ownership, even if there is no written agreement to form the partnership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Missouri:

  • Step 1 — Give your partnership a name.
  • Step 2 — File a fictitious business name.
  • Step 3 — Create and sign a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Missouri we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Other Missouri resources for Partnership:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership may use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Fictitious Name Filing: To file your “Registration of Fictitious Name,” you will first have to register with this site. It is required in Missouri to file this form, if your business name is different from your legal name.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership here. Partnerships must have an EIN, whether you have employees or not.

Licenses: Search for what licenses may be required of your business here.

Missouri Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

S Corporation
An S corporation (or S Corp for short), is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and a gain to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Missouri:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 10 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Missouri.

For help forming your S corporation in Missouri we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Other Missouri resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” Form here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Missouri Department of Revenue: Register here to fullfill your corporate tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp), under U.S. federal income tax law, refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Missouri:

  • Step 1 — Name your corporation.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 10 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Missouri.

For help forming your C corporation in Missouri we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Other Missouri resources for C Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” Form here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

Missouri Department of Revenue: Register here to fullfill your corporate tax requirements.

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Why choose Missouri for my business?

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