Our step-by-step guide will help you learn how to open a business in Connecticut.
Ready to start your company today? Check the availability of your new company name to get started.
You may know that Connecticut boasts a high quality of life for its residents, who have some of the highest incomes in the nation, but what’s it like for budding entrepreneurs? If you’d like to join the new small business owners in Connecticut, read on to learn the basics of forming a Connecticut company.
Follow the steps below to start a business in Connecticut.
Your company begins with a business plan. Planning can sometimes seem intimidating for entrepreneurs, but it doesn’t have to be. Writing a business plan is a vital step to set out on paper or on screen your overall sense of:
Without a firm business plan, many creditors and potential business partners won’t look twice at your idea.
As an owner, you need to decide how you will structure your business entity. There are several different types of businesses to choose from, and each has its pros and cons.
The most common entity types are sole proprietorships, general partnerships (GPs), corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs).
Sole proprietorships and GPs are unincorporated businesses that are free and simple to set up. Taxation is straightforward, but sole proprietors and GPs leave themselves open to personal liability if something goes wrong with the business.
For example, someone suing the business can go after the owner’s personal assets.
The corporation structure offers liability protection, so if your business ends up in trouble, your home, bank accounts, and other assets are protected. C corporations come with a less-than-ideal tax setup that taxes income once at the corporate level and again on personal tax returns.
S corporations provide liability protection too, without double-taxation, but are harder to qualify for.
An LLC in Connecticut can be a best-of-both-worlds option. LLCs require more paperwork and setup costs than a sole proprietorship, but there are significant benefits as well. The biggest benefit of an LLC is that it legally separates your personal assets from the company.
By doing so, it provides personal liability protection if the business files for bankruptcy or gets sued. Yet you’ll still only get taxed once for income, on your personal tax return, just like with a sole proprietorship.
We can file the paperwork to form an LLC or corporation for you with our business formation plans.
Counting up your startup costs is an important step to take before spending money on the business. It can be helpful to think of costs in three categories: one-time, fixed, and ongoing.
If your business grows and requires additional employees, plan to include estimates for payroll, healthcare costs, unemployment insurance, and Connecticut’s workers’ compensation costs.
Also, keep in mind how you’ll market the business, such as your company website, social network posting, advertising (such as online, print, and broadcast), and industry events. Investigate what the costs of each marketing method will be.
While accessing funds to cover business costs may take some time, it’s an essential step in the startup process, so include it in your detailed business plan.
Do you have a name picked out for your business? Like most states, Connecticut has rules that every entrepreneur must follow when picking a company name.
For starters, no two businesses can have the same name. The state says every company name should be distinguishable from one another and doesn’t allow duplicate titles. To see if a name is available, conduct a business entity search on the Connecticut Secretary of State website.
We walk you through the search process on our Connecticut business entity search page. This will help prevent legal issues, confusion among customers, and ultimately wasted time and money.
The state lets you reserve a name for a fee. If you don’t plan to incorporate your business for a few months, this is an excellent way to hold the title so it won’t vanish. If you’d rather not do the paperwork for this process yourself, we have a business name reservation service that can handle it for you.
You also can’t use “restricted words” in a company name. Restricted words are inappropriate words or any words that refer to a government agency.
As you settle on a company name, you may also consider getting the matching domain name. If this feels outside of your wheelhouse, we can help you register a domain name.
If you’ve chosen a business structure such as an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to register your small business with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
Many businesses are also required to get a federal employer identification number (EIN), which is your federal tax ID that you also use to hire employees.
Note: If you’re a sole proprietor, you can use your social security number as your tax ID, though most experts recommend obtaining an EIN to help avoid identity theft.
Next, open up a business bank account to avoid mixing business finances with personal. It creates a mess come tax time and makes it hard for you to see the true income and expenses of the business. It can also sometimes make your personal assets vulnerable by voiding the liability protections you would otherwise have from an LLC or corporation.
At this time, you can also consider applying for a business credit card to cover small purchases at the start and build your credit.
Next, apply for any permits or licenses required to do business in Connecticut. Permits and business licenses vary by industry, and they can be needed at the federal, state, and local levels.
There’s no central authority to tell you every license and permit your business requires, so you’ll have to do some research or have someone like us do the research for you with a business license report.
Talk with a qualified insurance agent in Connecticut to learn what coverage your business may need, including workers’ compensation, general liability, and others.
Even before opening your doors in Connecticut, it’s essential to think about how you’ll attract customers. By marketing your business, you make customers aware of your services and products. It’s your way to make the case for why someone should choose you over the competition. Here are ways to market your business:
While Connecticut is headquarters to some very large businesses — 14 companies on the 2021 Fortune 500 list — it’s also home to approximately 350,376 small businesses, making up 99.4% of Connecticut businesses.
To support those small companies, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development has established the Office of Small Business Affairs. The office can provide support for financing like loans and grants while also putting you in touch with the various federal, state, public/private, and nonprofit organizations that can assist your business.
Connecticut’s small business economy employs more than 745,000 people. As encouraging as that may be, you may be wondering what kinds of businesses could fare well in Connecticut.
For inspiration, the Small Business Administration (SBA) lists the following industries as the state’s biggest employers:
Connecticut already has such a good track record of hosting new small businesses that you may be tempted to join them, taking advantage of a highly educated workforce and a high standard of living. When you’re ready, we can help you navigate the process of starting a business in Connecticut with our many services. Contact us today to see how we can help.
LLCs formed after January 1, 2002, must pay an annual Business Entity Tax of $250. To check on other tax requirements, see the Connecticut State Department of Revenue Services website.
The per capita annual income in Connecticut from 2015 to 2019 was $44,496, well above the national income of $34,103, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the state’s website, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, bioscience and healthcare, financial services, green energy, insurance, technical innovation, and film, television, and digital media are all important to the Connecticut economy.