Opening a Business in New York? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Registering Your Business in the Empire State.
New York City is the home of some of the world’s largest and most iconic businesses, from the Wall Street banks and white shoe law firms that have dominated our national business scene for generations to the modern and creative media and entertainment companies that call the Big Apple home. But outside of New York city, the entire state of New York offers a diverse and culturally rich place to start a business. Whether your startup business is in Albany, Buffalo, or Cooperstown, we’ve got the ABCs of registering a business in the great state of New York. So if you’re interested in forming a business in New York, read on for everything you need to know right here in our clear and simple Five Step Guide.
We’ve got all the info you need to get your business started in New York, so read on for more details. Want to skip the required reading and get a faster start? Reach out to one of our PRIME advisors for a free consultation!
Forming a Business in New York: Five Easy Steps
When it comes to helping you register a new company in the Empire State, New York definitely means business. Their Business Express resource page is one of the most comprehensive and detailed state-specific startup guides we’ve ever seen! (We’ve been helping people set up businesses in every state for years, so we’ve seen it all!)
The Business Express Guide is a terrific place to dive in when you’ve got the time and patience to work through all of the details of registering a new business in New York, but to keep things easy on you we’ve distilled the main points into a a simple five-step plan:
- Choose a name and write a business plan
- Choose the best New York location for your operations
- Decide how you will finance your business
- Pick a legal structure for your business and register your entity
- File the necessary permits and licenses
Step 1: The Business Plan
A good plan is an indispensable part of any new business, and writing your business plan should be the first thing you do. The process of writing the business plan allows you to think through your new business idea and develop a strategy for establishing yourself as a competitive New York entity. When you’re devising the plan for your new business in New York, be sure to include the purpose of your business, the value proposition and competitive advantages, the structure of your business, and your financial plans. If you’re looking to do all the heavy lifting yourself, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s site has some great examples and templates you can use, or you can schedule a consultation with a PRIME advisor for personalized help setting up your business in New York.
One of the first things you will do when planning your new New York business will be to choose a name.* Before registering a business in New York, make sure the name you’ve chosen is available by checking New York state’s Business Name Reservation page. In addition to checking the New York state resources, it’s always a good idea to do a quick Google search on the name as well. You don’t want your New York business to be confused with another!
If you are thinking about registering your business in New York, you may want to consider choosing a name that reflects your New York location. This can be a great option if your business is local and you don’t plan to expand. For example, if you specialize in creating tourist souvenirs for New York City visitors, NYC Swag might be a great name for your new business. But if you’d like to design and create items that appeal to customers all over the country or the world, you may want to consider a more geographically generic business name.
*Note—although the business name is important, it’s ok to pick a name now and decide later that you want to expand to new markets or do business under another name. In that case, you will simply file for a DBA, which allows you to legally operate your business under multiple names. You can check out this article for more information about DBAs, or schedule a consultation with a PRIME advisor for more information.
Step 2: Location. Location. Location.
If you’ve already decided to register your business in New York state, you’re one step ahead of the game. But within this large and diverse state, you have lots of choices when it comes time to decide on a physical location. To choose the right location, you must thoroughly understand the specific needs of the business you will be operating. Will you staff an office or retail locations with employees or will you work alone from your home? It’s important to check zoning ordinances and assess the ease of operating your business from any location you’re considering. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How easy will it be to access my supply chain?
- Can my customers and clients easily find me here?
- Will I be able to find a skilled and willing workforce for my New York business here?
- What will my tax burden be for this location? You can research local tax rates for different parts of New York State at the New York Office of Real Property Tax Services.
Step 3: It’s All About the Money
When you’re forming a new business in New York, it’s important to know how you will pay for your new enterprise. Will you use your own savings and paychecks from your current job? Will you seek investments from family and friends or start a crowdfunding campaign? Or will you apply for a loan from your local bank or through the SBA (Small Business Administration)? The state of New York also offers financial support to grow your business in New York.
No matter what route you take, PRIME advisors always recommend establishing business credit and keeping your business and personal funds separate when possible. To help our clients with that goal, we’ve developed a unique business credit program designed to help you build an attractive financial profile for your business quickly and efficiently.
No matter what mix of funding you decide to use when starting a business in New York, there are three basic steps that all new business owners should take to optimize their financial future:
- Open a business bank account: Protect your personal assets by separating them from your company’s assets. This will also make accounting and tax filing easier and more straightforward.
- Obtain a business credit card: Build credit and access funds by opening a business credit card. This step will help you separate personal and business expenses and build your company’s credit history.
- Set up business accounting: You can use business accounting software such as QuickBooks to help you handle the books yourself, or you can hire an expert to keep things simple and clean. Whether you use specialized software or hire a business accountant, having a dedicated process makes annual tax filings much easier and helps you track the performance of your business. Looking for an expert? PRIME has an experienced staff of CPAs who specialize in helping businesses in New York and around the country keep more of their earnings through smart tax planning and strategies.
Step 4: Choose an Entity Structure and Register Your Business
Deciding on the right structure for your business can set you up for long term success by giving you the right amount of flexibility and protection. You can register a business in New York as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation. Each entity structure has different costs to file and unique reporting requirements, so it’s important to do your homework and learn which option is best for your business. You can explore the entity options on the New York Business Express page to learn more.
If you set up as a sole proprietorship, you are the only employee of the business—you take all the risk and you keep all the profits. A partnership is very similar to a sole proprietorship, except in this case two or more business owners share all of the risk and rewards. Although sole proprietorships and partnerships can be simple and easy ways to set up a business in New York, they don’t offer any protection for you—the business owner. If you’ve spent any time exploring the information on our site or had a free consultation with a PRIME advisor, you know we normally recommend registering as an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). An LLC provides protection for you and your assets by setting up your business as a separate legal entity. Registering as a corporation in New York is another option, but that path requires much more stringent reporting and other requirements. Setting up your New York business as an LLC gives you both flexibility and protection, and in the state of New York the filing fee for an LLC is only $200. You pay the $200 when you file your New York LLC’s Articles of Organization. Articles of Organization are the main registration documents required in the state of New York, but you also have to register with the Tax Department in New York before you start operating your business.
No matter what business structure you choose, following these basic steps to register your business in New York will set you up for success:
- Choose a registered agent: A registered agent is an individual or entity that is designated to accept legal and tax documents on behalf of your business.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN): The IRS will assign an EIN to identify your business for tax purposes.
- File formation documents: The required formation documents, and the associated fees, will be determined by the business structure you choose.
As we mentioned earlier, the New York Business Express Business Wizard tool is an excellent and comprehensive resource for people who want to start the process of registering a business in New York. The tool can be overwhelming, however, so if you need help navigating the red tape, reach out to a PRIME advisor and let us handle the entire process for you! Our experts know all the nuances and regulations involved in setting up businesses in New York, and we can make the entire process fast and painless.
Step 5: Licensing and Permits
Once you have obtained an EIN, registered with the Tax Department, and filed your Articles of Organization, you’ll need to make sure you have all the appropriate licenses and permits in place. Once again, the New York Business WIzard tool will help you apply for the right license or permit.
Forming a Business in New York—Next Steps
You’ve written the plan, you’ve chosen a name, you’ve set up the right entity, and filed your documents with the state of New York…now you’re ready to start making money! Here are a few things you’ll want to consider as you launch a New York business:
- Staffing: If you need to hire employees for your new New York business, think about how you will attract qualified candidates. What kind of compensation and benefits will you offer? How will you find candidates? Make sure you follow all of the relevant federal and state employer requirements by reviewing the New York state information on the Business Express site.
- Insurance: Business insurance helps you keep your risk and liability under control while allowing you to focus on growing your business. In the state of New York, any business with employees must follow the insurance regulations set by the New York State Department of Labor. Even if you don’t intend to hire employees, you should consider General Liability Insurance.
- Marketing: Tell the world about your new New York business with a great website, a strong social media presence, and attractive branding and signage. Don’t forget the power of good old fashioned word of mouth and excellent online reviews. Google My Business is a great tool to help generate online reviews and bring traffic to your business.
Navigating the red tape involved with starting a business in New York can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take advantage of the large library of information and resources on our blog, or jump on a call with one of our advisors for a free consultation. We’ll help you bring your business to life and stay with you as your business grows, offering comprehensive tax and planning services.
Registering a Business in New York: FAQs
How much does it cost to start a business in New York?
Registering an LLC or a Limited Partnership in the state of New York costs $250. That fee consists of a $200 filing fee and a $50 fee for Certification of Publication. The cost to incorporate a business in New York is $125 plus a tax fee of $10 or more (depending on number of shares). The fees for sole proprietorships and general partnerships depend on the county, but generally run about $100 in the New York City area.
Where do I file my business registration paperwork in New York?
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, Business Certificates should be filed at the appropriate County Clerk’s office. For corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs, paperwork must be filed with the county and with the New York Department of State.
What is a Certificate of Assumed Name?
In the state of New York, a Certificate of Assumed Name is another name for the Business Certificate that a sole proprietorship or general partnership must file with the County Clerk’s office. It essentially gives you permission to conduct business under a name other than your personal name.
Where Can I Find the Certificate of Assumed Name Form?
You can find the Certificate of Assumed Name form here on the New York Department of State website. Detailed instructions on filling out the form are available here.