Our guide will help you learn how to open a business in New Hampshire.
Ready to start your company today? Check the availability of your new company name to get started.
New Hampshire attracts residents with its quality of life, ranking high on things like health, education, and low crime. But there are additional draws for entrepreneurs wanting to establish their business in the Granite State.
The following steps can guide you through the process of starting your dream business in New Hampshire.
Planning is an important part of any big venture, especially starting a company. Writing a business plan is vital. Not only can it help attract investors or secure a loan, but it keeps you on track with your vision, goals, and finances. When you’re writing a business plan, consider the following steps:
One of your first considerations for your new company will be choosing its business structure. Some of the most well-known business entity types are corporation, general partnership, LLC, and sole proprietorship. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each type.
Corporations are one business structure option. They shield their owners’ (called “shareholders”) personal assets from liability, so if the business gets into trouble, the shareholders’ personal savings accounts can stay safe. However, income for C corporations is taxed twice — once at the level of the corporation and again on the personal tax returns of its shareholders. This is referred to as “double taxation.”
S corporations offer similar liability protection but avoid the double taxation issue. Their income is only taxed one time, on the shareholders’ personal tax returns. S corporations come with more restrictions and are harder to qualify for, though.
LLCs, general partnerships, and sole proprietorships are among the most popular business structures because they’re considered “pass-through” entities, meaning their profits are reported only on the owners’ personal income tax returns without first being taxed at the business level.
Though the tax benefits make them similar, they’re definitely not the same. LLC owners enjoy liability protection on their owners’ personal assets, which is important in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. LLCs must file a Certificate of Formation with the state of New Hampshire, while sole proprietorships do not.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the cheapest types of entities with the least amount of paperwork. They don’t have to craft an operating agreement or create bylaws. They also avoid having to file formation documents with the state. Unfortunately, these structures don’t offer any liability protection on personal assets. That means if your company gets into financial trouble, you do, too.
Because it combines liability protection and tax benefits, the LLC is a very popular form of business entity for many new entrepreneurs. We can file the paperwork to form an LLC or corporation for you with our business formation plans.
From startup costs to ongoing fixed and variable expenses, your organization will need to cover its costs. As part of your planning, the better you can estimate those costs, the better positioned you can be to get the right financing, set up your budget, and stay on track with managing cash flow.
Every startup’s costs are different, but some of the most common ones include:
Business insurance is another important consideration. From commercial general liability to workers’ compensation insurance, remember that different companies need different kinds of coverage.
Whether you’re using your own first and last name, location, services, or branding message, there’s no one way to name your company.
By law, your new company can’t adopt a name already in use. To ensure your business name choice isn’t already in use by another organization in the state, do a name search on the New Hampshire Secretary of State website.
We walk you through the search process on our New Hampshire business entity search page. This will help prevent legal issues, confusion among customers, and wasted time and money.
New Hampshire also gives business owners the ability to reserve a name for 120 days before filing the paperwork to start an entity like an LLC or corporation. This isn’t required, but it can keep another company from taking your desired name before you can file the paperwork for an entity like an LLC or corporation.
If you’d rather not deal with this process yourself, we have a business name reservation service that can handle it for you.
Once you’ve identified an available name that represents your brand, check for available domain names that you can use for your email and website. Our domain name registration service can help you secure the online name that will best serve your business.
This is also a good time to reserve accounts or handles on social networks that may be part of your marketing outreach and engagement.
Once you’ve chosen your business structure and (if required for your entity type) filed the formation paperwork with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, you can apply for a federal employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. Having this tax ID number will allow you to open a business bank account.
You can do this yourself or have a partner do it by creating a special document called a banking resolution. Dedicated business bank accounts will keep the company’s finances separate from the personal funds of you and the other owners. This not only helps you at tax time, but it can help protect your limited liability status if you have an entity like an LLC or corporation.
You’ll need to figure out what permits and/or licenses the law requires for your business to operate. Permits and 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.
Marketing your business makes potential customers aware of your services and products. It’s your way to make the case for why someone should choose you over the competition. Start by making a solid marketing plan.
Having a website is essential for most businesses, with pages that showcase your offerings, tell customers your business’s story, and offer a way for them to get in touch.
Online directories, such as Google My Business and Yelp, are another way you can put your business out there. Optimize those listings and your website, too, so potential customers are more likely to find your business in online searches.
Don’t forget about advertising, either. Print media and regional radio and TV broadcasters can be powerful ways to spread the word about your company. Business cards, brochures, and postcards can also help.
If you’re not sure where to start, a professional marketing firm can help.
If you don’t already have an idea for your own business, take some time to think about what your own skillsets and resources are. Do they dovetail with any business opportunities in your area? In other words, what types of businesses are lacking in your area, and is there a need you could fill?
Here are some suggestions for businesses to start in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire was ranked sixth in the nation on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index for 2021. It’s hardly surprising when you consider the low corporate tax rate and the fact that the state doesn’t tax personal earned income (though it does tax dividends and interest as of this writing).
New Hampshire lacks a variety of other taxes, including sales and use tax, estate tax, inventory tax, internet tax, professional service tax, and capital gains tax.
The state’s strategic location on the East Coast is also worth considering. It’s less than an hour from Boston and the Canadian border.
New Hampshire provides a welcoming space in the New England area for residents and businesses alike with low crime and low taxes. If you’d like to make it your company’s home, we can help. Check out our services for starting, running, and growing your business today.