The Delaware Small Business Start Up Guide and Resource Book is a nationally-accredited nonprofit organization hosted by the University of Delaware providing business services for Delaware small businesses and entrepreneurs - including free business plan help.

Decide on a Business Structure

The most common types are: DBA's, Corporations, and Limited Liability Corporations

  • “Doing Business As”
    • The name of the business differs from its registered or legal name.
  • Corporation
    • Used by larger establishments with shareholders, officers, and directors.
    • Is a separate entity
    • Provides owners with liability protection
    • Professional Corporations are mandatory for certain occupations such as architects, lawyers, doctors, etc.
  • LLC
    • Most popular structure
    • Flexible and simple
    • Management is handled by the owners rather than a board of directors or officers
    • Allows for complete control, liability protection, and lower taxes.

Pick a Business Name

Naming a business is a harder process than it sounds. Choosing a poor name can lead to many setbacks including legal problems. Follow simple guidelines to protect yourself.

  • The fundamentals are crucial. Choose a name that is timeless, can be said and recognized with ease, and is one of a kind.
  • Avoid possible problems. Search the internet to see if the name already exists, both nationally and locally. Look for ownership on the US Patent and Trademark Office website.
  • Google is a reliable, free source, rather than paying a trademark specialist to perform an in-depth search. Check for errors in the name, such as spelling and plurals, and similarities.

Register the Business

Registering a business varies from state to state. Be sure to research all requirements in the state of Delaware.

LLC and Corporate Process:

  • Forms and certificates are filed with the Delaware Department of State Division of Corporations. Corporations file Articles of Incorporation. E-filing paperwork is faster than mailing.
  • Appoint a qualified Registered Agent who has a Delaware address. The agent will send vital paperwork to the owner.
  • Run an Organizational Meeting. This keeps the business on track and in accordance with legal and tax matters.
  • Corporations file IRS Form 2553 if they are an S corporation.

DBA Process:

The local County Recorder will provide information about the filing process, as Doing Business As paperwork is submitted by county.

  1. Search for your business name
  2. Contact the county to acquire and submit necessary forms for registry

Obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number

An EIN is mandatory for all Corporations and LLCs and is unique to that business. DBAs are not required to have an EIN. An EIN protects the business owner from identify theft, as it acts in place of their social security number. Visit the irs.gov website or fill out IRS Form SS-4 to apply online.

Open Company Accounts: Bank and Credit Cards

Open a business bank account that is not connected to your personal finances. This will help your business build credit for future financial needs.

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

  • Acquire all licenses and permits through The State of Delaware's Division of Revenue, Division of Unemployment Insurance, and the Office of Workers Compensation.
  • File for state and federal taxes. The IRS handles federal taxes. Visit the SBA website to obtain all federal permits and licenses.
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce provides further information.

Finance Your Business

Choose what is right for your business, factoring in financial history and business type. The SBC resource guide is a free way to get financial advice such as types of loans and building capital. Visit the state website for funding.

Hire Employees

  1. Enroll as an employer through the Delaware Division of Revenue, the Delaware Department of Labor, and the IRS.
  2. New Employee documents include:
    1. New-Hire Reporting Form
    2. I-9 Form for Employment Eligibility Verification
    3. W-4 tax form
    4. Delaware Employee Withholding Exemption Certificate
  3. File tax withholding paperwork, both federal and state. Include Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Worker's Compensation Insurance.
  4. Know labor laws.

Create a Brand

Create a logo and website that is eye-catching, describes your business, and is easy to navigate. DIY or hire a professional.

Market Your Business

Find your target customer and create marketing campaigns that cater to that consumer. Social media, SEO, e-mailing marketing, and blogs are free ways to advertise.

Annual and Ongoing Requirements

  • DBAs need to be renewed every 5 years.
  • LLCs are taxed $300 a year and do not file an annual report.
  • Corporations must file an annual report and a franchise tax.

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