Sole Proprietorship Documents: Everything You Need to Know
Sole proprietorship documents are any forms required in the state in which your sole proprietorship is operating in order to legally do business.3 min read
2. Fictitious Name Affidavit
3. Business License
4. How to Start a Sole Proprietorship
Sole proprietorship documents are any forms required in the state in which your sole proprietorship is operating in order to legally do business.
What is a Sole Proprietorship?
A sole proprietorship is a business that is owned and operated by a single individual. Unlike limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations, the owners of sole proprietorships do not have to register to operate in the state in which they do business. You can start a sole proprietorship by completing business-related tasks, as long as you are the single owner of that business.
Although sole proprietorships don't have complex start-up regulations or requirements, you may need to follow certain laws in your area to make sure your business is legal and legitimate. Examples of requirements include:
- Obtaining a business license
- Registering the business
- Following all permit laws
It's also important to understand the business debt and income tax obligations. Sole proprietors are held personally responsible for business debts and tax requirements. When you want to start a business, forming a sole proprietorship is the least expensive and simplest way to do so. However, a sole proprietorship doesn't offer any limited liability protection, which means your personal assets could be at risk if someone takes legal action against the business or the company accrues debt. Additionally, sole proprietorships offer limited options for tax planning.
Starting the sole proprietorship is easy. The first time you complete a business-related task, you have officially started a business. You don't need to file any forms or documents unless the business name is different from your name.
Fictitious Name Affidavit
If you choose a different name for your business, you will likely need to fill an affidavit for a fictitious owner. This affidavit provides information to the public and the local government agencies, including who owns and operates the business as well as the assumed name under which the business is operating. After filing your affidavit for a fictitious name, make sure to retain a copy of the form. You may need it to open a bank account under the business name or to take care of other business tasks.
You should file the affidavit with the county clerk's office in each county where your business will operate. When the business operates in multiple states, the process of operating under a fictitious name can become more complex because rules and forms vary between states. If this applies to your business, talk to an attorney who can help you complete and file all required paperwork.
As you're deciding what to name your business, it can be tough to choose between a fictitious name and your own name. If you are well-known or respected in your field, use your own name since it can be a great tool for marketing. One of the risks that comes with using your own name is the potential repercussions of the business encounters legal or financial trouble or fails. Any future business endeavors may be associated with the troubles you had in the past since your name was on the failed company.
In some jurisdictions, a business license is a requirement to operate a sole proprietorship. If this requirement applies in your area, you may not conduct any business until you obtain the proper license. You can learn more about the requirements and regulations in your locality by speaking to the county clerk. This individual can provide the forms you need and answer any questions about forming a sole proprietorship.
Whether you plan to provide a service or sell a product with your sole proprietorship, it's important to make sure all activities are handled in a professional way. Some of the most important tasks for business owners include devoting enough time and setting up and registering the business properly. By going through the correct processes, you can:
- Minimize taxes and fees
- Achieve greater success
- Avoid major issues
How to Start a Sole Proprietorship
You don't have to take any legal or formal steps to start a business that will operate as a sole proprietorship. There are no local, state, or federal requirements that apply to starting a sole proprietorship. However, some municipalities and cities do require business owners to obtain any necessary licenses or register the company.
If you need help with sole proprietorship documents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.