How to Start a Business in Texas

Step-by-step guide with helpful information that you'll need to know when starting your own business. Includes resources, FAQs, and downloadable checklist.

Updated on March 1st, 2019

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Texas boasts the country’s third-lowest business costs and second largest population. With many fast-growing metropolitan areas, the state of Texas provides a superb customer base for those who want to start a new business there.

Additionally, the state of Texas supports small businesses by offering low business licensing fees, a lack of red tape and affordable commercial real estate. New businesses in Texas can easily establish themselves with minimum out-of-pocket investment.

How to start a business in Texas Checklist - Free Download

Download our How to Start a Business in Texas checklist in PDF format.

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How to Start a Business in Texas:

1. Determine your business structure.

When starting a business, one of the most important decisions that you make will be choosing the type of legal structure for your company. Your choice will impact your taxes, the amount of paperwork your business is required to do, the personal liability you face and your ability to raise funds. You can choose from the following legal structures:

A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure and usually involves an individual who is solely responsible for the enterprise.

A partnership is suitable for businesses with two or more owners.

A corporation is a standalone entity with shareholders.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a hybrid form of partnership as it allows the owners to benefit from both the corporation and partnership structure of business. LLCs are regulated by Texas state laws and must be created by filing a certificate of formation with the Texas secretary of state at a cost of $300.00, and are subject to state franchise tax.

2. Write a business plan.

Business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.

The traditional plan is very detailed, takes more time to write and is quite comprehensive while the lean startup plan is high-level, fast to write and only contains key elements. A strong business plan can help you to get funding and make the process of opening a new business easier.

3. Sign up for business banking.

Your business finances must be kept totally separate from your personal ones in order to maintain accurate records. With a business bank account, you can easily obtain statements and access products that would not be available to you as an individual.

Best Banks For Small Businesses In Texas
Best Banks for Small Businesses in Texas:
  • BBVA Compass Bank.

  • Frost Bank.

  • Wells Fargo.

  • Capital One.

  • First National Bank Texas.

  • Chase Bank.

  • Bank of America.

  • Citibank.

4. Seek startup capital and/or loans.

If you are unable to fund your new business on your own, you will need to take out a loan. You can get funding for your business through three common ways: commercial loans, business lines of credit and small business loans.

Two popular companies that can assist you with small business loans in Texas are ACCION Texas and the Texas Small Business Loan Fund.

5. Decide on a business name and make sure it's available.

Make a list of the names that you like and perform a Google search to find any conflicts with other Texas business names.

Do a tradmark search. Once this is done, you will need to do a trademark search to ensure that the business name that you chose has not already been trademarked. You can perform the trademark search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Trademark Electronic Search System. These databases have a comprehensive list of business names that are registered together with their classification.

Check the Texas State Database. After you have confirmed that your business name is not trademarked, you need to check the Texas Department of State: Division of Corporations database to ensure that your business name is not the same or similar to another corporation registered in Texas.

Register your business name. If you are satisfied that your business name is available, you can then register it on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

Once you have found a suitable name, make sure to register the matching web domain and social media handles, should you wish to market your business online.

6. Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Every business needs to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Registering for an EIN is easy - all you need to do is go to the IRS website. You can complete the application online, and save your EIN confirmation notice once you receive a number from the IRS.

7. Acquire business licenses and permits.

The state of Texas does not impose any requirements for businesses to have a general business license. Your business may, however, require a specific license or permit depending on the type of business that you open. You can refer to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to see if your business requires a specific license or permit.

There are various costs associated with businesses obtaining filings and trademarks necessary for their business to operate legally in Texas. You can find a comprehensive list of these costs here.

8. Hire employees.

Texas law requires that all employers doing business in the state report the hiring of any person within 20 days of the date of hire. Employers must also report the rehire of any former employee (TX Family Code Sec. 234.101et seq.). Violations of the law may result in the assessment of fines against the employer.

The Texas Employment Discrimination Law prohibits discrimination in employment, including hiring because of race, color, disability, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), national origin, or age (40 years or older) (TX Labor Code Sec. 21.051et seq.). The law applies to all public employers and to private employers with 15 or more employees.

9. Check your business employer requirements.

Business employer requirements are specific to the type of business that you are starting and include various labor, safety and tax obligations that need to be met. You should consider engaging in the services of a tax or business attorney to ensure your business is fully compliant with the laws in Texas.

If you are starting a business in Texas, you will need to take note of the following important items:

Business Insurance

Texas doesn’t require most private businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance and those businesses must file an annual notice with the Texas Department of Insurance indicating so.

Commercial property insurance is highly recommended as it ensures that your on-premises property will be insured.

Health insurance isn’t a requirement for small businesses in Texas, but those who do offer it need to make it available to all employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

Texas Workforce Solutions

Texas Workforce Solutions is an organization that provides support services and administers unemployment benefits and tax programs for businesses in Texas. They offer the following solutions for small businesses in Texas:

  • Skills for Small Business provides training funds for businesses with less than 100 employees.
  • Skills Development Funds are customized training programs for specific business needs.
  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit Progam offers a tax credit reducing the federal tax liability of employers.

More information about Texas Workforce Solutions can be found here.

Unemployment Tax

The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act requires businesses with employees to contribute towards unemployment tax. Employers need to register with the Texas Workforce Commission within 10 days of becoming liable for the state’s unemployment tax.

Business Inventory Tax

If your business owns fixed assets, you will be required to pay a business inventory tax to your local county appraisal district. You should consider investing in effective inventory) and a asset management system that can accurately calculate your investment on equipment and machinery.

Starting a business in Texas FAQs:

How much does it cost to start a business in Texas?

A certificate of formation for a Texas for-profit corporation has a $300.00 filing fee while non-profit corporations only have to pay a $25.00 fee. Additional costs to incorporate a business in Texas depend on several factors.

Texas Business Formation and Registration Fees:

Fee Type

Cost

Certificate of formation for a Texas entity.

$300.00

Certificate of formation for a Texas professional association or limited partnership.

$750.00

Certificate of formation for a Texas nonprofit corporation or cooperative association.

$25.00

Registration or renewal as a Texas limited liability partnership.

$200.00 per partner.

Foreign entity application for registration.

$750.00

Foreign nonprofit corporation, cooperative association, or credit union application for registration.

$25.00

Foreign limited liability partnership application for registration or renewal.

$200.00 per partner in Texas, but not less than $200 nor more than $750.00

Name registration or renewal for foreign entity not qualified to transact business in Texas.

$40.00

Withdrawal of name registration of foreign entity not qualified to transact business in Texas.

$15.00

A comprehensive list of fees to start a business in Texas can be found here.

How do I register a business in Texas?

Sole proprietorships and partnerships need to register with the county clerk’s office. If you decide to incorporate, you must register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

You can check with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to see if your business requires a specific license or permit. You can refer to the Texas Business Permits and Licenses Guide to view the complete list of all business types together with contact information for those departments that can assist with permits and licenses.

How Do I Start A Business In Texas With No Money
How do I start a business in Texas with no money?
  • Use services to generate cash flow and fund a product-based business.

  • Get creative to discover funding sources.

  • Grind it out and look for business, even if you don't get paid for it.

  • Use your current resources in different ways to generate income.

  • Get a credit line to help with the early stages of your business.

  • Locate an accelerator if you are able to hit the market swiftly.

  • Crowdfund and allow the public to invest a small percentage of money in return for a future buy-in.

  • Use a business incubator to provide funding designed specifically to financially assist a startup company.

How can I protect the name and logo of my business in Texas?

The easiest way is to register your business name on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Prior to registration, remember to check on the Trademark Electronic Search System and the Texas Department of State: Division of Corporations database that your business name is not already registered by another company.

Do I need workers compensation for my new business in Texas?

Most private businesses in Texas are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance. An annual notice must be filed with the Texas Department of Insurance specifying that information.

Does my business in Texas need to contribute toward health insurance?

Health insurance isn’t a requirement for small businesses in Texas, but those businesses that offer it need to make it available to all employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

The Bottom Line:

Starting a business in Texas is hard work. Success will only come if you are willing to commit to your idea and put in the effort that it takes to bring it into reality.

If you follow the nine steps listed above and carefully plan your course as you go, you'll be well on your way to being the proud owner of a thriving small business. Make the most of all of the resources that are available to your along the way and never lose sight of the purpose that inspired you to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur.