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Starting a Business in Missouri: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

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If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, are ready to be your own boss, and call the Show-Me State home, then starting a business in Missouri seems like a natural fit. You just need the drive, passion, and a solid plan for how to start your business and grow it into a profitable company. 

If you’re not sure where to start, consider these steps that will teach you how to start a business in Missouri. They’ll cover everything from writing your initial business plan to getting your legal ducks in a row. Plus, we’ll break down your options for obtaining enough funding to make your business dreams a reality. Let’s get started. 

How to Start a Business in Missouri in 7 Simple Steps

Starting a business is hard work, but luckily, there are a few steps that can make the process a whole lot easier and simpler. We’ve found the seven steps you need to take when starting a business in Missouri. 

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

First things first, have you written a business plan yet? Even if you’ve already started your business, it’s worth revisiting this step. A business plan can help guide your business and provide focus during the building process. You can also use your business plan to illustrate to stakeholders like investors, lenders, or potential partners where your business is heading in the near and more distant future. 

You can write a killer business plan without being an expert in building businesses. As long as you use your plan to provide structure to your business goals and your business organization, you will get something out of the process. You can use your plan as a roadmap to help you move forward and productively look back on the work you’ve done so far. You can customize your business plan to cater to your business’s unique needs, but you should generally include the following information in it. 

  1. Executive summary: The first section of your plan should be short and sweet. You won’t need more than one or two pages of information for this section, because it should serve as a quick summary of the rest of your plan. You’ll outline the purpose of your business and give a look at where it currently stands. You’ll also want to look to the future and share your plans for your business in the next three to five years. Use this section to highlight why your business will be a success. 
  2. Company overview: Look at the company overview as your business’s elevator pitch. Explain what the business does, give a little detail about the current state of your industry and marketplace, and share the structure of your business. You’ll also want to include your value proposition in this section. 
  3. Market analysis: Now it is time to dive deep. Share a detailed analysis of your industry, market, and any competitors you have. This step will be especially beneficial to you down the road when you need help identifying who your audience is and how you can market your business to them effectively. 
  4. Business organization: Give a look at how your business runs. If you have partners or vital employees, explain who does what and how they contribute to the team. Of course, if you’re the only one working for your business right now, you’ll simply provide a bit of background information about yourself. 
  5. Products and services: What types of products or services will your business offer? Outline them all in an in-depth way in this section.
  6. Marketing and sales plan: Do you have a plan for how you will make revenue? Break down exactly how you plan to market and sell your offerings.
  7. Financial plan and projections: If you’ve already started a business, you can share past financial data here (at least three years worth if it’s available) as well as any financial projections you have available. If your business is brand new, utilize this section to share your plan for how to become a profitable enterprise. 
  8. Appendix: The final section of your plan should include any extra information or supporting documents that didn’t fit neatly in the previous sections. You may want to include insightful data points, charts, marketing collateral, or footnotes.

This can be a lot of information to compile, but trust us when we say this is a vital step toward ensuring you have a strong business growth strategy. If you need some extra help with this step consider using a business plan template to help make the process easier. 

Step 2: Choose a Business Entity

When it comes time to choose a business entity, you need to remember that this decision will affect your taxes, level of risk, and more. You may want to consult a professional when making this decision such as an attorney or tax advisor. 

The state of Missouri provides forms for the following types of business entities: 

  • General Missouri business corporations
  • Nonprofit corporations
  • Professional corporations
  • Sole proprietorships and general partnerships
  • Limited liability companies
  • Limited partnerships
  • Limited liability companies (LLC)

Step 3: Name and Register Your Business

If you haven’t chosen a name for your business yet, you should consider doing so now. You don’t want your dream name to slip away from you, so act quickly once you’ve chosen a name. First, you’ll need to ensure that it hasn’t already been taken by another Missouri business. You can do a quick search in Missouri’s business database to double-check that the name is still available. 

starting a business in missouri

Source: Missouri Online Business Filing

In the state of Missouri, you may need to complete a Fictitious Name Registration which is necessary if the business will operate under a name other than your own. This is also known as a DBA, or “doing business as.” If the business name differs from the exact name of the entity, you must register that different name as well. 

If you have your name in mind but aren’t ready to register your business just yet, you have the option to reserve your desired name. This reservation gives the reserving party exclusive rights to that name for business entity purposes for 60 days (which can be renewed or extended for up to 180 days). It costs $25 to $30 to reserve a name and after the reservation period expires, the original reserver cannot reserve that same name again. However, they can still use the name in a creation filing whenever they want as long as the name is still available.

starting a business in missouriSource: State of Missouri

Regardless of whether you previously reserved your name or not, you will need to register your business once you have chosen your name and entity—unless you’re starting a sole proprietorship or general partnership, which don’t need to be registered. This process will vary depending on which structure you choose and will also require a nominal fee.

Step 4: Understand Tax, Licensing, and Employer Requirements

Before you start a business in Missouri, you should get a handle on all of the tax, licensing, and employer requirements that may affect your business. Doing so will help you avoid time-consuming and expensive mistakes. Your needs will likely vary based on the type of business you’re choosing to start, so we recommend consulting a professional if you haven’t already.

Taxes

You know taxes will be coming your way soon. Here’s what you need to do to prepare for them. 

  1. EIN: Depending on your business entity, you may file separate business taxes. If this is the case for your business, you’ll need an employer identification number or a business tax ID number to file federal and state reports. If you still need your EIN, you can apply for one online from the IRS.
  2. Business tax liabilities: Familiarize yourself with common business tax liabilities in order to understand what taxes you will be responsible for paying. 
  3. Income tax returns: Make sure you’re aware of all of the different tax forms and filing dates for your business. 

This resource for Missouri business owners may help answer some of your tax questions. 

Licensing and Permits

Depending on what type of business you’re starting, you’ll need to get your hands on the proper business licenses and permits. The types of documentation you’ll need will vary depending on your business, but generally, you may expect to apply for some sort of business, environmental, or occupational license or permit. To make sure you have all of the correct licenses and permits that your business needs, you should review the requirements from both your state and local agencies. Ideally, you should do this before you officially open your business. This guide from the SBA can help guide the process. 

Employer Requirements

If you’re going to need employees to help your business run smoothly, you’ll need to keep the following aspects in mind. Such as:

  • Who is considered an employee and who isn’t?
  • What federal and state paperwork do you need to hire an employee?
  • What should you include in an employment agreement? This may include information about salary and benefits, their duties, and any termination expectations.
  • What notices you have to post in the workplace where employees can review them.
  • What the state and federal requirements and exemptions are for wages or overtime pay.
  • What are the requirements for laying off an employee under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. 

All employers must have an EIN before they begin hiring employees, so if you didn’t apply for an EIN in our previous tax section, now is the time to do so. 

Step 5: Obtain Business Insurance

The next step in starting a business in Missouri is to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage for a variety of scenarios. On a professional level, you may need business insurance to protect yourself (in the case of lawsuits) or your employees (injuries or illness). From a disaster scenario, you might find insurance helpful when dealing with theft, fire, or natural disasters.

There are a variety of types of business insurance that can mitigate your risk and help your business survive during times of crisis. Consider these types of basic insurance coverage. 

  • Property insurance
  • Business interruption insurance (or other time element coverage)
  • General liability insurance 
  • Product liability insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Key person insurance
  • E-insurance (if your business has an online presence)

It’s important to remember, that if you hire employees you must have workers compensation and unemployment insurance, at minimum.  

Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account

Many entrepreneurs dip into their own pockets to fund their business in the early days. Even if that’s the case for you, you’ll want to keep your personal and business finances as separate as possible. The first step toward achieving this is to open a business bank account. In some cases, a business may be legally required to have a business bank account. 

When you open a business bank account, you’ll have to choose between a checking or savings account. For newer businesses, a business checking account may make more sense. But more established businesses with extra cash flow at the ready should consider a business savings account that can help their extra cash accumulate interest. Either way, having a business bank account will help you keep your personal and business life separate, as well as make taxes a lot easier down the road. 

Next, you’ll want to find a business credit card, so you can keep your spending separate. Not to mention, if you opt for a 0% introductory APR credit card, you can treat this intro period as an interest-free loan of sorts to help jumpstart your business. Just make sure you have a plan to pay off the balance before the intro period ends and a variable APR sets in, or you’ll face hefty interest charges.

Step 7: Secure Business Funding

You’ve brushed up on all the steps required to start a business in Missouri, but now you might need a little money to take your business plans from dream to reality. It can be challenging to start a business in any state without some form of funding, which is why it might be time to consider a business loan. Some of the more common business funding options you can consider are:

  • Startup business loans: A startup business loan is ideal for brand-new businesses that need to prove their value before they can easily access other forms of business funding. A startup business loan might be an SBA microloan, small business grant, or credit card with a 0% APR offer. Generally, SBA microloans are the stronger startup funding option since they have low interest rates and long repayment terms—but they’re competitive.
  • Business line of credit: When you have a business line of credit, you’ll have access to a set credit limit and you can borrow against that limit to cover any business expenses you have. You will only pay interest on the money you borrow, not the total amount, which can help you keep your interest payments on the lower side as a new business owner. 
  • Equipment financing: If your business requires pricey equipment, then equipment financing can help fund any expensive equipment purchases. Because the equipment will serve as collateral for this loan, it is often easier to qualify for this type of funding.

The Final Word

Learning how to start a business in Missouri is no small feat, but you’ve taken the first step toward building a successful business by reading this guide. By keeping on top of your business plans, finances, and permits, you’ll have the tools you need to find entrepreneurial success in Missouri. 

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a writer and editor based in Southern California. She has written on everything from finance to travel for publications including LendingTree, The Everygirl, Coveteur, and Apartment Therapy, among others. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, especially if going somewhere she can spend time with animals.