How to Start a Business in Missouri

Written by Austin Chegini

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Have you ever thought about starting a business in Missouri but weren’t sure where to begin? This guide is for you. 

We help you through the process by laying out the legal and tax requirements and share the foundations of a great business plan to get you started on the right track.

Begin with a Plan

All great businesses start with a thorough and actionable business plan, which addresses all of the following:

  • What you’re going to sell (product, service, or both)
  • Where you’re going to sell (physical location or online-only)
  • Your target audience
  • How much financing you’ll need to launch your business
  • Marketing strategies
  • How you intend to grow the business

A well-thought-out business plan not only gives you concrete goals and a clear path to meet them but also makes your business more attractive to investors and potential partners.

In Missouri, you can get online help with starting your business via the state’s MOSourceLink website, which includes business plan templates, where to obtain funding, and other resources for new business owners, including offering free consultations via email or over the phone.

Once your business plan is finalized, you’re ready to select the right structure for your business.

Choose Your Business Structure

Your next step is to determine the appropriate business structure. In the state of Missouri, you have several options to choose from, including:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • General Partnerships
  • Limited Partnerships (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
  • Corporations (B, C, or S types, Close, Nonprofits)

The type of structure you choose will determine how you pay taxes and handle some other affairs. These structures also help separate your professional and personal affairs. For example, forming an LLC will prevent creditors from pursuing your personal assets in case of debt or legal issues arise. 

Most business structure types will also be required to have a registered agent who can receive official documents on behalf of the business with a physical address in the state (not a PO Box).

Once you’ve narrowed down which business structure is right for you, it’s time to reserve a business name (or register a fictitious name) with the state of Missouri.

Reserve a Business Name

Most businesses in the state of Missouri will need to reserve a unique business name with the Missouri Secretary of State. This will cost $30 for LLPs and $25 for corporations, LLCs, and LPs. These names must be unique.

However, sole proprietorships and general partnerships operating under the name of the individual owner(s) aren’t required to reserve a business name with the Secretary of State, unless you want to use a business name that’s different than your legal name.

In that case, you would register your new business name as a fictitious name with the Secretary of State. This is also sometimes known as a DBA, or “doing business as” name. Registration of a fictitious name will cost $7, but because fictitious names aren’t required to be unique, there could be multiple other businesses with the same fictitious name.

Now that you’ve got your business name reserved, or a fictitious name registered, you’re ready for the next step of the process.

Obtain a Federal Tax ID Number

Most Missouri businesses will be required to have a Federal Tax ID number, also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (or EIN) for short. This makes it possible for your business to pay federal taxes.

The IRS website makes it easy to register for an EIN online, and lets you know if you can get away with just using your social security number instead of getting an EIN. This exception usually applies to sole proprietors.

Now you’re finally ready to register your business with the state of Missouri!

Get Registered in Missouri

All Missouri businesses need to register with the Secretary of State’s office, except for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.

The filing fee for each business structure is as follows:

  • Foreign Corporations: $155
  • LP, LLC: $105 
  • LLP: $30-$105 

Domestic Corporations must pay a registration fee based on the dollar value of authorized shares in the corporation, which will vary from business to business.

Any business, regardless of business structure, owned by active-duty military members in Missouri, including members of the Missouri National Guard, will not be assessed registration fees.

Because general partnerships and sole proprietorships aren’t required to register for a business license with the Missouri Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, they don’t have SOS registration fees, either.

LLCs must file articles of organization, and corporations (all types) must file articles of incorporation with their registration packets.

Now that you’re all set with your registration, you can now obtain your Missouri business tax accounts.

Obtain Missouri Tax Account(s)

Nearly every Missouri business will need to obtain a Missouri tax account from the Missouri Department of Revenue in order to pay the following tax types:

  • State Business Tax
  • State Unemployment Tax
  • City and County Taxes

In addition, depending on your business structure/business activity, you may also be required to pay one of the following taxes:

  • Sales tax
  • Vendor’s Use tax
  • Consumer’s Use tax
  • Corporate Franchise tax
  • Workers’ Compensation tax
  • Corporate Income tax
  • Withholding tax

There may be other specialized taxes your business may be required to pay, and you may wish to consult with a Missouri tax attorney to determine all of the taxes your business will owe.

But there’s another step before you get too far down the road—ensuring you don’t need additional permits or licenses to legally operate in the state.

Obtain Additional Permits/Licenses

Your business may also need additional licenses or permits to operate in the state of Missouri, or for the county or municipality in which you’re located.

These additional permits/licenses could include businesses that work in the following sectors:

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Athletic Training
  • Gambling
  • Health Spas
  • Lodging
  • Service or sale of alcohol
  • Travel Clubs

This is not an all-inclusive list of the various industries that could require additional permits or licenses to legally operate in the state of Missouri. If you’re unsure which additional licenses or permits your business may need, the 24/7 Missouri business website has additional information and resources.

You’ve got one more crucial step before opening for business if you plan to have employees, and that’s obtaining workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you plan on hiring employees, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance for your business.

This ensures that should an employee be injured during their normal work duties, they can receive the necessary medical treatment at no cost to themselves. Workers’ compensation claims may be denied by you, the employer, but the denial is typically appealable.

Hopefully, you’ll never be in a situation in which you’d need to use your workers’ compensation insurance, but getting the coverage before you have employees will ensure that everyone is taken care of in the event that the worst should happen.

Finally, you’re in the home stretch, and almost ready to open your doors to customers—but don’t forget one key element of your business.

A Trustworthy POS System

You may not have given any thought to your point of sale system until this moment. While it’s easy to ignore, your customers will certainly remember their payment experience with your business. Was it secure? Was it simple to use?

This is where Epos Now can make your business really stand out. Our point of sale systems are easy to use and automate several fundamental business tasks.

Not only do we have powerful tools to handle inventory management and reporting, but we also integrate with leading payment processors. Our partners offer multiple payment solutions for every type of business, so you can accept cash, credit, and even contactless options. 

Contact Epos Now today to see a demo. 

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