Set Up Your Business

Consult with a legal professional and accountant to choose a legal structure for your business, register with the Missouri Secretary of State, and obtain an EIN.

Choose a Name for Your Business

What is a business name?

If you’d like to do business under a name other than your personal name, you'll need to choose one.

Why do I need a business name?

Before you can register your new venture, you must verify that the name is available for use.

How do I verify that the name is available?

Search the Missouri Secretary of State database for existing business names to make sure the one you want has not already been chosen.

Decide on a Business Structure

What is a business legal structure?

Businesses in the United States are legal entities defined by city, state, and federal laws. The legal structure of a business can vary. Some businesses are structured as corporations, some as limited liability companies, some as sole proprietorships, and so on.

In order to start your business, you’ll need to work with a lawyer and/or attorney to decide on an appropriate legal structure and prepare the necessary documentation.

Why is it important to choose the correct legal structure for my business?

There are many legal and financial issues to consider when choosing a legal structure for your business. The right legal structure can help limit your liability and protect your personal assets from bankruptcy. Your legal structure can also influence the way your business is taxed and the way it carries out day-to-day operations.

How do I decide which legal structure is right for my business?

There are many factors to consider when determining an appropriate legal structure for your business, and it’s best to consult with a business counselor, attorney, or accountant before making a decision.

The Small Business Administration is a great resource for learning more about possible legal structures for your business.

Register Your Business with the Missouri Secretary of State

What does it mean to register my business?

Registering with the Missouri Secretary of State is an important step for certain types of businesses. Sole proprietorships operating under their legal personal name can skip this step unless your business is operating under a fictitious name. You will need to do this if you choose to work with the State of Missouri.

Why do I need to register my business?

Missouri law requires any person or business entity which transacts business in the state under a name other than their own “true name” to register with the Secretary of State. If your business structure operates under anything other than your legal personal name, you will need to register with the Missouri Secretary of State.

How do I register my business?

The Missouri Secretary of State allows most types of businesses to register online through their website

Disclaimer: After you register with the Secretary of State, for-profit Document Service companies may attempt to contact you and offer to print your documents for a substantial fee. This step is not necessary.

Apply for a Federal Identification Number (FEIN, EIN)

What is an Employer Identification Number?

An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is like a Social Security Number, but for your business. You might also see an EIN referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number, FTIN or TIN. It helps both you and those you do business with identify your business as a unique entity.

Why does my business need an EIN?

US businesses require an EIN for a variety of reasons. An EIN helps the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, identify your business quickly and easily. If you want to do business with the City or any other governmental agency, you will need an EIN to complete various forms and applications.

How do I obtain an EIN?

EINs are easy to obtain and entirely free. They are issued by the IRS. The application to obtain an EIN can be completed online. Simply visit the IRS Website - Employer ID Numbers and click “Apply for an EIN Online."

You can also apply for an EIN via fax, mail or phone, but the process will generally take a little longer. The directions for each of these methods can be found on this page.

+Make sure you download, save, and print the EIN letter right away. If you lose or misplace this document, you will have to contact the IRS to re-issue the letter by mail.

How long does it take to obtain an EIN?

The online application to obtain an EIN takes a matter of minutes. After you have completed the application successfully, an EIN will be issued to you right away. However, please note that the online EIN service is only available on weekdays between 6 AM and 9 PM Central Time.

Applying for an EIN via fax takes about a week while applying by mail takes between four to five weeks. 

Disclaimer: You should treat your EIN like you treat your social security number, i.e., securely. Only provide your EIN to trusted sources like government agencies, banks, etc, and only when necessary.