Checklist for Starting a Sole Proprietorship

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Checklist for Starting a Sole Proprietorship

We are often asked what steps are required in order to establish a new self-employed (sole proprietorship) business. Although this checklist is not all-inclusive, here is a document DiSabatino, CPA often provides to clients which may be a helpful guide for you. Please call our office to consult with us on deciding which entity might be correct for you, and the actual steps you will need to perform.

Business Name

  • Check on availability of name with the County.
  • File an assumed name or fictitious name certificate, if required, with local or state fictitious name office.
  • Publish a notice of assumed name or fictitious name in a local newspaper, if required.
  • Consider registering your trademark or service mark at the federal or state level if you will do business regionally or nationally and will use your business name to identify a product or service

Licenses and Permits

  • Get Federal license, if required.
  • Get state license, if required.
  • Get local license, if required.


  • Normally, get liability insurance (for injury to other people and damage to their property).
  • Make sure there's adequate coverage for your vehicles and those of your employees when used for business purposes.
  • Normally, get property and theft insurance (covering damage to your business space and your tangible business assets).
  • Get product liability insurance, if appropriate.
  • Ask your insurance broker or agent about other recommended coverage


  • Get IRS Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business
  • Get IRS Publication 583, Taxpayers for Small Business
  • Check with state and local tax authorities regarding business taxes and any required registration.
  • Consider getting QuickenBooks (Intuit) or similar small business accounting software.
  • Consider hiring a part-time bookkeeper and consulting an accountant about setting up a simple accounting system.

Home-Based Business

  • Make sure your homeowners insurance covers liability for business-related injuries to other people and damage to their property--especially if people will be coming to your house on business.
  • Make sure your homeowners insurance covers damage to and theft of your business assets.
  • Check to be sure your business usage complies with:
  • local zoning ordinances
  • your lease
  • covenants, conditions and restrictions affecting your property.
  • Get IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home

Hiring People

  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS.
  • Get workers' compensation insurance.
  • Register with the state government for payment of unemployment compensation taxes.
  • Get a supply of IRS Form W-4 (employee withholding).
  • Get a supply of INS Form I-9 (employment eligibility verification).
  • Know the guidelines for hiring independent contractors.



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