How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Rhode Island

Are you planning on starting a new business in the state of Rhode Island, but having some trouble getting started? Are the endless websites and paperwork trails making you feel overwhelmed? That happened to us, too.

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The number of businesses incorporating in Rhode Island has been growing in recent years, with 2,077 new companies registering with the state in 2015’s first quarter — a 4.4 percent increase. Rhode Island has also recently implemented several resources and state funding for the new business owner, including the Providence-based Betaspring in 2015, a nationally recognized business accelerator, and a very recent $10 million small business program from Goldman Sachs. As a place to live, “The Ocean State” is densely populated and highly industrialized, with a scenic coastline, historic buildings, and a vibrant arts scene.

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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 Rhode Island

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Fun facts about starting a business in Rhode Island

Famous business founded in Rhode Island Newport Creamery

Newport Creamery is a chain of restaurants in Southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company was founded and is headquartered in Middletown, Rhode Island.

Famous entrepreneur born in Rhode Island William Hamlin

William Hamlin (1772-1869) was an entrepreneur born in Providence, Rhode Island. He was an early American engraver, and the first engraver for the state of Rhode Island.

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Rhode Island?

At bizHUMM we strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure for your business.

Here are 5 helpful steps to help you determine the best legal structure:

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 Rhode Island.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company, commonly called an "LLC," is a legal 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 Rhode Island:

  • Step 1 — Give your LLC a name.
  • Step 2 — File an Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Find and 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 — File Annual Reports.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Rhode Island.

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

Alternatively, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

Other Rhode Island resources for LLCs:

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

Rhode Island Licensed Occupations: Information on any licenses you may need to acquire, depending on your business activities.

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.

Rhode Island Division of Taxation: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business. It is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual, with no distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is entitled to all profits, and is responsible for all the business’s debts, losses, and liabilities.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Rhode Island:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed business name with the city or town clerk.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Rhode Island we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

Other Rhode Island resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: 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.

Rhode Island Licensed Occupations: Information on any licenses you may need to acquire, depending on your business activities.

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

Rhode Island Division of Taxation: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Partnership
A partnership is a business operation between two or more individuals who share both management and profits. The two most common types of partnerships are general and limited partnerships. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Rhode Island:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed name.
  • Step 3 — Create 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 Rhode Island we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

Other Rhode Island resources for Partnership:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: 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.

Rhode Island Licensed Occupations: Information on any licenses you may need to acquire, depending on your business activities.

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.

Rhode Island Division of Taxation: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

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 again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. What makes the S corp different from a traditional corporation (C corp) is that profits and losses can pass through the shareholder’s personal tax return. Consequently, the business is not taxed itself.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Rhode Island:

  • Step 1 — Give your corporation a name.
  • Step 2 — 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 Rhode Island Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Rhode Island.

For help forming your S corporation in Rhode Island we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

Other Rhode Island resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Reservation of Entity Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

Rhode Island Licensed Occupations: Information on any licenses you may need to acquire, depending on your business activities.

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.

Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp), 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. From a legal standpoint, C corporations are separate entities that can sue and be sued. From a tax standpoint, they are separate taxpayers, paying tax at special corporate tax rates that differ from those applicable to individuals.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Rhode Island:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — 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 Rhode Island Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Rhode Island.

For help forming your C corporation in Rhode Island we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

Other Rhode Island resources for C Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Reservation of Entity Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

Rhode Island Licensed Occupations: Information on any licenses you may need to acquire, depending on your business activities.

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

Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

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Why choose Rhode Island for my business?

  • 1

    Commerce RI: Incentives
    “This year, Rhode Island’s legislature passed an unprecedented and powerful suite of new programs aimed at growing businesses and creating jobs. These incentives, benefitting businesses of every size, are some of the most significant and comprehensive in the Northeast, if not the nation.”

  • 2

    RevUp by Betaspring
    “RevUp is the first accelerator for “revenue-first” companies—ventures where growth through revenue is the primary goal. RevUp companies receive focused support, $75,000 in cash, and intensive three-month program focused on increasing customer acquisition and revenue.”

  • 3

    RIPR: “Goldman Sachs Partners With Rhode Island For $10M Small Business Program (2016)
    “Goldman Sachs is launching a multi-million dollar program to bolster small businesses in the Ocean State. The financial institution is investing $10 million dollars to infuse small business owners with access to capital and increase their business acumen.”

  • 4

    Providence Business News: “Can Startup Incubators Give R.I. an Economic Jolt?” (2015)
    “The number of businesses incorporating in Rhode Island is growing, as 2,077 new companies registered with the state in this year's first quarter, representing a 4.4 percent increase compared with the same period last year, according to the R.I. secretary of state's office.”

  • 5

    The Rhode Island Minority Business Enterprise
    “MBECO promotes the development of certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women Business Enterprises (WBE), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). It does this by facilitating their participation in Rhode Island's business and economic development opportunities. Specifically, MBECO services in certification, enforcement, business assistance and advocacy.”

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