A lot of people are scared to start a business officially, because they think it’s too complicated and expensive. But that’s really not the case.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to registering your business in the US or Canada. You’ll see just how easy it is!

1. Decide On Your Business Structure

Once you’ve got your business name and idea sorted out, decide what structure will work best for you. The names sound intimidating, but they’re totally understandable when you get down to it. Here are the different kinds you need to know about:

  • Sole proprietorship: You’re the big boss. Which means you get all the moolah but you’re also fully responsible of any debts and obligations related to the business.
  • Partnership: It’s just you and your partner(s)! You share profits and responsibilities.
  • Corporation: You can incorporate other people to your company as shareholders. The business is its own thing, so you won’t be held personally liable for debts, obligations and acts of the business. It’s usually for bigger companies.
  • Cooperative: This is the least common form of business. In a cooperative, everybody who uses the business owns it. That means they all share profits and work together to achieve common goals.

There are a lot of other implications to creating these kinds of businesses, so make sure you do your research before deciding.

But don’t worry too much—your business type isn’t permanent. You’ll be able to switch later if you have to.

2. Claim Your Name

You’re now ready to get started. If you’re you’re operating a sole proprietorship or a partnership, and you’re doing business under a name other than your own (like a company name or a pen name) you’ll need to register a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This will just let your state government know that you’re doing business under your company name.

All you have to do is visit your state government’s official website and request your name online. You may have to head to your county clerk’s office or state government. It really depends on where your business is located, so have a look at SBA or Canada Business.

3. Secure Your Domain

If you still haven’t grabbed your domain name yet, get on it! You’ll want to build a website to promote your business, and having the right domain adds a layer of professionalism. All you have to do is:

  1. Go to Rebel.com and search for the name you want to register.
  2. It’ll give you a list of the domain extensions you can get, as well as an awesome list of other domain names related to your topic.
  3. Select the domain you like most and you’re set! While you’re going, you can get hosting, an SSL certificate, and professional email set up. We’re kind of a one-stop shop.

4. Get Your Company Digits

You’re almost there! If you’re in the US, register to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you’re in Canada, sign up for a Business Number. They’re free and are needed to guarantee you’re a legit business that pays taxes!

5. License and Permits, Please

Pretty much every business needs some sort of license or permit to be a legit business. It all depends on your type of business, where it’s located and the government rules of that state.

But don’t you worry! If you use this website for US citizens or this one for Canadians, you’ll find all the licenses and permits you need for your business. The costs range from free to a few hundred dollars, depending on your location and the type of business you’re setting up.

You’re Good to Go!

Woohoo! You’re a business owner! That wasn’t too bad, was it? Just a bit of homework to bring you one step closer to achieving your goals.

Photos: Alex Holyoake, 3_foot_6, Giphy, Giphy, Giphy, Giphy, CraveTV