Updated November 5, 2020:

The cost to start sole proprietorship businesses is less expensive than other business organization types. Startup costs will vary based on the nature of your business as well.

There is no fee to register a sole proprietorship. Your liability with this business organization type is unlimited. You also need to register for sales and service tax. It's the easiest type of business to set up because you don't need to file with the state like you do with an LLC or corporation.

Startup Costs for Sole Proprietorships

  • Equipment: Every entrepreneur will have some equipment needs, even if it's just a new computer or upgrades to your current one. You need to factor in repair costs, and other related electronic equipment like cell phone, monitor, etc.
  • Physical Space: Are you using your home, or are you planning on getting office space? Are you meeting clients face to face? If you are planning to use space in your home, does it qualify for the tax deduction with the IRS? Also, factor in added utility bills for a home office.
  • Advertising and Marketing: This can be anything from purchasing business cards, creating fliers, cell phone time, printer ink, and other hidden costs you might not be expecting. If you don't have a website, you will need one, so at a minimum, you'll have the domain registration fees and hosting costs.
  • Networking: This can often be the least expensive aspect of a new business, but you will have added costs for things like parking, meals, travel, event fees, and more.
  • Wardrobe: Depending on what your new business is, you may need to expand your wardrobe. You may need to purchase a few suits or other attire and that can be a startup cost you need to factor in.
  • Banking: You will need to get a business checking account and a credit card, both of which may have some monthly and/or annual fees. Will you be accepting credit cards? You will need equipment and merchant accounts that will have associated fees.
  • Licensing and other fees: If your new business requires specific licensing or permits, you will need to factor in those costs. If there are certifications required, you will have initial costs and renewal fees. If you plan to do business with a DBA, or fictitious business name, you may have associated costs for filing depending on what state you are in. Does your business type need insurance or bonding? Research your options and find out what risks you are opening yourself up to and how to protect yourself financially.
  • Professional Services: There are many other things you may not think of — legal fees, accounting, attorney, business coach — all of which will add to the startup costs.
  • Taxes: Once you start making money, you can expect to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. You may have deductible items, but you have to cover things like social security taxes that you might be used to having withheld from your own paycheck.

Tax Deductions

U.S. federal tax regulations provide for a number of allowed deductions for sole proprietorships that you wouldn't have access to if you were working for someone else. Some start-up costs are also eligible.

  • Starting costs: Some costs like licenses, permits, equipment, advertising, and opening inventory can be claimed under business expenses. In some cases, office furnishings may be included as deductions as well.
  • Rental location: If you rent a location, there will be deposits for utilities, which can be deducted. Rental costs for a business location or a dedicated part of your home you exclusively use for business may also be claimed as a deduction.
  • Benefits: If you pay for medical and dental insurance for yourself and your family, those can also be deducted from your gross income.

Steps to Starting a Sole Proprietorship

  • Pick a good name that is memorable and verify that your name is available
  • File for a DBA or fictitious business name
  • Confirm your website domain name is available and register it
  • Register with your city and/or county and pay any required fees
  • Obtain any necessary licenses or permits
  • Register with your state tax authority
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees or want to set up a retirement account
  • Check zoning requirements if you work from home
  • Open business banking accounts
  • Purchase necessary business insurance
  • Write a business plan
  • Hire any professional help you may need to get started

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