How to Start a Business in South Carolina

Written by Austin Chegini

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If you’ve ever considered starting a business in South Carolina but weren’t sure where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. We take a look at licensing and permitting requirements, business insurance, and getting started on the right foot so you can launch a South Carolina business with confidence.

Begin with a Plan

Before you get down to the details, you need to develop a strong business plan, which covers things like:

  • What you’d like to sell (product, service, or both)
  • Whether you’ll have a physical location or online-only presence
  • Your target market
  • How much financing you’ll need to launch your business
  • Marketing strategies
  • Steps for growth

By demonstrating a thorough knowledge of your company, your desired market, and the financing you need to get where you want to go, you’ll be able to provide investors and potential partners with confidence in you and your business.

In South Carolina, you can get online help for starting your business via the state’s Business One Stop website. This resource includes tips on writing business plans, where to obtain funding, and other tips for new business owners.

Once your business plan is ready, it’s time to select the right business structure.

Choose Your Business Structure

Before you can register your company, you need to determine the appropriate business structure. In the state of South Carolina, you have several options to choose from, including:

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

Each business structure has its own unique pros and cons. 

For example, LLCs have the added benefit of protecting your personal assets if anything were to happen to the company. Similarly, many business owners value the protection of a corporation since they would not be personally liable if anything were to happen with the business.

In addition, LPs, LLPs, LLCs, and corporations must file documents with the South Carolina Secretary of State, including articles of organization for LLCs and articles of incorporation for corporations.

Most business structure types will also be required to have a registered agent who can receive official documents on behalf of the business. This person must have a physical address in the state, not a PO box. 

If you’re unsure which business structure is right for you, the Small Business Administration breaks down each structure type and how it compares to each of the others, so you can get an idea of which structure best fits your needs and business model.

After you’ve selected the best business structure for you, it’s time to get your federal tax ID number.

Obtain a Federal Tax ID Number

Nearly every type of South Carolina business needs 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 registration easy and guides you through the process. It also identifies which businesses don’t need to get an EIN, such as certain sole proprietors.

Now you’re finally ready to register your business with the appropriate municipality or county!

Get Registered in South Carolina

Believe it or not, South Carolina has no statewide registration process for businesses.

You may be required to register your business in the appropriate county or municipality, however, and each county/municipality has its own registration requirements and fee schedules. Interestingly, some counties don’t require a business license or registration, either.

You can use this helpful chart to determine if your county requires a business license before you can start operating. 

Keep in mind that even if your county doesn’t require a business license, your municipality might. Also, if you plan to operate in more than one county or municipality, you may need more than one business license.

You’ll need to contact your municipality and county directly to determine the amount of the required filing fees (if any). 

There are some state-wide permits you’ll be required to get, and nearly every business owner will be required to open a business tax account with the state of South Carolina.

Obtain South Carolina Tax Account(s) and Permits/Licenses

Although the state of South Carolina has no statewide licensing requirements, you may still be required to obtain a South Carolina tax account for sales tax, use tax, or both.

Various counties and municipalities may have their own local business tax requirements in addition to the state requirement, so make sure you understand what local tax accounts your business is required to obtain, as well.

Your business may also need additional licenses or permits to operate in the state, including an alcohol license (renewed every two years). Again, you’ll need to know the regulations for any county or municipality you plan to operate in.

You’ve got one more crucial step before opening for business, and that’s obtaining the appropriate liability insurance for your business.

Insuring Your South Carolina Business

No one wants to imagine that their products or services could harm someone, but sometimes it does happen. Selecting the right business liability insurance could mean the difference between shutting your doors for good and staying open.

There are three main types of business liability insurance to be aware of:

  • General liability (in case your physical location, website, advertising, etc. harms someone)
  • Product liability (in case a product you make harms someone)
  • Professional liability (in case a service you provide harms someone)

If you offer a mix of products and services, you may want both product and professional liability insurance, in addition to general liability, to maximize your liability protection. This way, you can rest assured that you and your customers will be taken care of should the worst happen.

If you plan on selling physical goods, you’ll also be required to go through the process of obtaining a barcode for each item before you start selling to customers.

Obtain a Barcode

If you have a retail business, you’ll need to obtain a unique barcode for each product sold. This can be done through your point of sale system or third-party programs. 

It may seem like you’re finally ready to begin selling your goods or services, but there’s one small thing you may have overlooked that can have a big impact on how favorably customers view your business.

The Right POS System

While choosing a point of sale system may not seem all that exciting, it is very important. On your end, you want a POS that makes inventory management, reporting, and accounting easy. Your customers will also want a system that makes for an easy checkout experience.

With Epos Now point of sale systems, you can set your business apart from the crowd. Our systems are incredibly versatile, with our software running on Apple, Windows, and Android devices. Better yet, you can use your POS on your current computer or tablet. 

Epos Now also integrates with several payment processors, so you can accept major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. On top of this, your customers can also use Apple and Google Pay.

Speak with an Epos Now POS consultant today to see a demo of our software.

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