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How to Start a Business in South Carolina

Want to start a new business in the state of South Carolina, but don’t know where to begin? You’re in good hands!

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“The Palmetto State” has garnered praise for its pro-business environment — it was named #5 in the nation for its regulatory environment by Forbes magazine, and #5 for best business climate. Businesses in the state can enjoy electricity rates 12 percent less than the national average, and a low overall cost of doing business. The state’s Department of Commerce promotes small-business initiatives to help entrepreneurs set up shop, which include small business grants and other incentive programs. And, South Carolina has no state property tax, no local income tax, and no wholesale tax. Sounds good to us!

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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 South Carolina

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Fun facts about starting a business in South Carolina

Famous business headquartered in South Carolina Denny’s

Denny’s is a full-service pancake house and family restaurant chain. It operates over 1,600 restaurants worldwide. Unlike many other restaurant chains, Denny’s doesn’t close on holidays or nights, except where required by law. It is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Famous entrepreneur born in South Carolina Joe Erwin

Joe Arnold Erwin (born in 1956) is an entrepreneur and politician born in Florence, South Carolina. He co-founded and is President of Erwin-Penland Advertising, and is a former Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in South Carolina?

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

Here are five helpful steps to 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 South Carolina.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company (LLC) is the United States-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. An LLC is not a corporation; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners.

Steps to starting an LLC in South Carolina:

  • 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 -- not required in South Carolina
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in South Carolina.

For help forming your LLC in South Carolina we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Other South Carolina resources for LLCs:

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

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.

South Carolina Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship, also known simply as a proprietorship, is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one person, and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for all of the finances of such business.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in South Carolina:

  • Step 1 — Name your sole proprietorship.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed business name with the South Carolina One Stop.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

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

Or, visit the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Other South Carolina 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.

South Carolina Business One Stop: If you use a business name that is different from your legal name, you can register your assumed business name with this site (not mandatory).

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

South Carolina Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Partnership
A partnership is a legal form of business operation between two or more individuals who share management and profits. The federal government recognizes several types of partnerships. The two most common 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 South Carolina:

  • 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 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

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

Alternatively you can visit the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Other South Carolina 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.

South Carolina Business One Stop: If you use a business name that is different from the surnames of the individual partners, you can register your assumed business name with this site (not mandatory).

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.

South Carolina Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

S Corporation
An S corporation is a regular corporation that has elected "S corporation" tax status. Forming an S corporation lets you enjoy the limited liability of a corporate shareholder, but pay income taxes as if you were a sole proprietor or a partner. 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 South Carolina:

  • 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 other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 10 — Register foreign corporations doing business in South Carolina.

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

Or, visit the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Other South Carolina resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application to Reserve Name” 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.

South Carolina Division of Taxation: Register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp for short), 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. In a C corporation, there can be an unlimited number of stockholders. This allows the corporation to sell shares to a large amount of investors, which allows for more funds to be raised for projects.

Steps to starting C Corporation in South Carolina:

  • Step 1 — Give your business 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 other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 10 — Register foreign corporations doing business in South Carolina.

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

Alternatively, visit the South Carolina Secretary of State website.

Other South Carolina resources for C Corporation:

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

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

South Carolina Division of Taxation: Register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

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Why choose South Carolina for my business?

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