Starting a new business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Houston, Texas, is a growing city that offers so many opportunities for new ventures to thrive. If you’re starting a company, make sure you take all the necessary steps to have a legally operating organization.
Choose a Business Name
It is impossible to overstate the importance of choosing a good business name. Your name should be catchy and draw the attention of potential customers. It’s important for the name of some organizations to include the industry (think: Tex Accounting), but that’s not always the case. Before you file legal documents, do your due diligence and ensure that the name is not already taken or that there isn’t another name that is similar to the one you want. Doing so can avoid lawsuits later on.
Register Your Business
Before you register your business, you have to determine your company’s legal structure. Popular choices are LLCs and corporations, though there are many other options. Your business’s legal structure impacts how you file taxes and what protections you have if you are sued, so choose carefully. Consider consulting with an attorney for guidance. Once you’ve made that designation, you need to register your business with the Harris County clerk’s office.
Get an EIN
Visit the IRS to sign up for your employer identification number. Think of the EIN as a social security number for businesses. You’ll be required to show your EIN before you can open a bank account and file tax returns for your company.
File for Licenses and Permits
Each industry will require a different permit or license, which you must get before you open your doors. For example, any organization that prepares, serves or sells food needs an active food permit, which you can obtain from the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. Before you get your permit, however, an inspector must come to your facility and make sure it is safe and healthy.
If your establishment offers alcohol, you must get a liquor license Houston TX from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. After you apply for your license, you’ll submit your liquor license prequalification to the Administration and Regulatory Affairs for approval. You’ll also have to go to the Public Works Code Enforcement and ask for a Certification of Occupancy. There are a lot of steps to file for this annual license, but selling liquor can bring your business a lot of money.
If you sell, rent or lease personal property, you need to file for a sales tax permit with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Businesses that sell their services are also required to get a sales tax permit.