The State of Missouri is ranked fifth for the lowest corporate tax and 11th for both entrepreneurship and ease of doing business in the U.S. Known for its manufacturing, agriculture, and bioscience industries, the Show Me State is a great destination to start a small business.
How to Start a Business in Missouri:
1. Create a legal entity.
When starting a business, the legal entity you choose will have an impact on your taxes, paperwork, personal liability, and your ability to raise funds for your business.
There are several legal structures to choose from:
- Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is the most basic legal structure, and consists of one individual who assumes all risk for the business.
- Limited Partnership (LP): A partnership consists of two or more partners who agree to share in all profits, assets, and financial or legal liabilities.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is the most popular business structure as it protects business owners from personal liability.
Businesses are regulated by Missouri state laws and must be registered through the Missouri Secretary of State website.
2. Register with the Secretary of State (SOS).
Once you have chosen a business name and a legal structure, you can then register your business with the state. To check if your chosen business name is available, you can search the SOS online database.
You may register your business in person, by mail or electronically via the SOS website at www.sos.mo.gov. Depending on your business structure, you may need to file Articles of Incorporation or a Fictitious Name Registration.
You can access many of the state electronic filings on the SOS website. The cost to file a corporation is $50.00 for the first $30,000 of authorized shares, with an increase of $5.00 for each additional $10,000 of authorized shares. The cost to file a fictitious name is $7.00.
3. Get an Employee Identification Number (EIN).
After you have formed a legal entity, you will need to obtain an EIN in order to withhold taxes. You can do so by mail or online via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.
If you intend on applying via mail, download the application Form SS-4, fill it out and post it to Internal Revenue Service, Cincinnati, OH 45999 (Attn: EIN Operation), or fax it to 1 (855) 641-6935. It will take around four to five weeks to process your mail application.
A faster and easier way to get your EIN is to fill out and submit an online application form on the IRS website, and you'll receive your EIN via email within 24 hours. This service is free of charge.
4. Apply for a State tax ID number.
Many business practices are subject to federal and state income taxes, which means you will need to register your business with the Missouri Department of Revenue. In addition, the State of Missouri imposes a sales tax and vendor's use tax.
You may register your business via the Missouri Department of Revenue. After you have completed your online registration, you will receive a confirmation number and additional information about your registration. Allow two to three business days for processing.
5. Apply for applicable state licenses and permits.
Depending on your type of business, you may need to obtain one or more licenses or permits in order to operate. You can apply for business licenses or permits through your local city or county clerk's office. Keep in mind that certain professions may require special licenses or certifications.
For a list of Missouri cities and municipalities, visit www.mo.gov.
There are several resources available for you to research the industry licenses specific to your business:
- Industry Licenses.
- Occupational Licenses.
- Missouri Division of Professional Registration.
- Missouri Department of Agriculture.
- The Resource Navigator.
6. Open a business bank account.
When opening a business, it is important to open a small business bank account to allow you to manage your finances and personal assets separately.
To open a business bank account, you will need to provide your Social Security Number or EIN, Articles of Incorporation, as well as your business license.
Best Banks for Small Business in Missouri:
7. Hire employees and report them to the State.
All employers are required to report new hires, re-hired staff, and returning-to-work employees to the Missouri Department of Social Services within 20 days of the date they are hired or return to work.
During the hiring process, you will need to set up payroll for your employees so that you can withhold your share of FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes) and Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA). To learn more about setting up payroll for your business, be sure to read How to do Payroll: The Ultimate Guide.
You will also need to register for Missouri unemployment insurance tax via the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations at https://labor.mo.gov.
8. Purchase business insurance.
As a business owner, you will need to protect your business from any loss, property damage, lawsuits, or other issues that may arise.
All employers in Missouri who have five or more employees are required to carry workers' compensation insurance, regardless if they are part-time or temporary workers. If you are in the construction industry, this number reverts to one or more employees. For more information, refer to the Department of Labor.
There are several types of business insurance available:
- Small Business Health Insurance.
- Small Business Liability Insurance.
- Commercial Property Insurance.
- Business Interruption Insurance.
- Cyber Insurance.
9. Display mandatory posters in your place of business.
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations mandates that all employers display the required posters for the benefit of employees and customers.
Posters Required by the State of Missouri:
- Notice to Workers Concerning Unemployment Benefits (MODES-B-2).
- Workers' Compensation Law (WC-106).
- Discrimination in Employment (MCHR-9).
- Missouri Minimum Wage Law (LS-52).
- Employer's Employing Workers Under the Age of 16 List (LS-43).
- Discrimination in Housing (MCHR-6).
- Discrimination in Public Accommodations (MCHR-7).
How to Start a Small Business in Missouri FAQs:
How much does it cost to register a business in Missouri?
If you are a sole proprietor or general partner and want to register a fictitious business name, the registration fee is $7.00. To form a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the filing fee is $55.00 for two partners, $80.00 for three partners, and $105.00 for four or more partners. Corporations (LLCs) must pay $50.00 to file Articles of Incorporation for the first $30,000 of authorized shares.
Fees for Registering a Business in Missouri:
Fictitious Name Registration
LLP (2 partners)
LLP (3 partners)
LLP (4 or more partners)
Articles of Incorporation
How can I register a business in Missouri?
You can register your business in person, by mail or online via the SOS website at www.sos.mo.gov.
Where can I get a Missouri business license?
You can apply for a Missouri business license online or in person at your local city or county clerk's office. Missouri business licensing fees vary according to your type of business and location.
Do I need to provide workers' compensation in Missouri?
Yes, all employers in Missouri with five or more employees must provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. In the construction industry, this applies to employers with one or more employees.
What are some Missouri small business resources?
To find out more about starting a business in MO, read through our guide on How to Start a Business.