If you've started selling your homemade jewelry online or running personal training sessions out of your garage, you've likely formed a sole proprietorship already—and you're not alone. When an individual starts a business (sells goods or services) and that person hasn't filed any legal documents with the state officially registering the business, then the person has automatically created a sole proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is low maintenance. It doesn't typically require you to file any creation documents or submit renewal filings or fees, and you can usually report your income on your personal tax return. But sole proprietors are personally liable for the business's debts and obligations, so you might need to dip into your personal funds to satisfy any debts your business can't pay.
In Nevada, you can establish a sole proprietorship without filing any legal documents with the Nevada state government. Though no action is required to legally create a sole proprietorship, you should follow four simple steps to start your business:
For more information, read our article on how to start a business in Nevada.
In Nevada, a sole proprietor can use their own legal name or a trade name—also sometimes known as an "assumed business name," "doing business as" (DBA), or "fictitious name"—to conduct business. If you plan to use a fictitious name or trade name for your business, it can't be the same name as any other company currently registered with the state.
It's also a good idea to choose a name that's not too similar to another registered business to avoid trademark infringement. Under trademark law, your fictitious name can't be used by someone else in a way that would cause confusion among consumers. So, if you use a name that's the same as or too similar to someone else's trademark and you both provide similar goods or services, then you could be infringing on that other person's trademark. If you find a competitor company already exists with a similar name, then it's best to choose another name.
For example, suppose you want to operate a food van under the name Greatest Dough Tuscan Pastas. In the next town over, there's a restaurant called Great Dough Tuscany Pasta House that's been in business for years. Because your van would have a similar name to a restaurant that already exists, you should choose a different name
To make sure your business name is available, you should run a search in the following government databases:
For more information, read our FAQ on how to choose and register a business name.
If you use a business name that's different from your legal name, Nevada requires you to register your separate business name. (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 602.010 (2023).) Nevada laws and agencies variously refer to this separate business name as a "fictitious firm name" (FFN), "assumed business name," or "DBA."
For instance, suppose Luisa Gonzalez offers basic bookkeeping services under the name Equal Numbers Bookkeeping Service. Because Luisa's business name, Equal Numbers Bookkeeping Service, isn't the same as her legal name, she'll need to register her business name.
File your FFN certificate with the clerk of each county where you do business. The SOS has a list of counties and contact information. The filing fee might vary by county. You should contact your county for specific information.
Nevada requires sole proprietors to either file for a State Business License or a Notice of Exemption from the business license requirement before they start conducting business. You can either apply online or complete the appropriate form and mail it to the SOS. You can find links to these applications and how to file online on the sole proprietor and general partnerships section of the SOS website.
The SOS has limited information on the licensing section of its website. The state's Department of Business and Industry (DBI) has links on its website to Nevada cities and counties where you can find information about local licensing requirements. The DBI also has links to the different permits that might be required for your business. For additional guidance, check out the DBI's Guide to Starting and Growing a Business in Nevada.
Nevada's business portal also has links to various regulatory agencies and licensing boards. Much of the professional and occupational licensing in Nevada is handled by individual state boards for specific professions and occupations.
You might also need to comply with local regulations, building permits, and zoning laws. Check with your city and county governments for more information.
Sole proprietors who wish to have employees need to obtain an EIN. This is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS for tax reporting purposes. All businesses with employees are required to report wages to the IRS using an EIN. You can register for an EIN online with the IRS.
Sole proprietors without employees aren't required to have an EIN. Instead, you can use your Social Security number to report taxes. Nevertheless, you might want to obtain an EIN. Some banks require an EIN to open a bank account, and having an EIN can reduce the risk of identity theft.
Unlike most states, Nevada doesn't have a personal income tax or a corporate income tax—though the state does have a gross receipts tax. There's also no state employer withholding tax. But you might still need your EIN when reporting potential business taxes. For more information, check the state's Department of Taxation website.
You should consider taking the following additional steps once you've started your sole proprietorship:
To find out how to form a sole proprietorship in any other state, see our 50-state guide to establishing a sole proprietorship.
You might not need to submit paperwork to start a sole proprietorship in Nevada. But your specific circumstances could require you to file certain forms and comply with certain rules and regulations. As a business owner, it's important to understand what steps you need to take to legally start and operate your sole proprietorship.
If you have business experience and only need to meet a few requirements to establish your sole proprietorship, you can probably do the work yourself. But if you need specific guidance or run into a complicated issue when starting your business, you should talk to a small business lawyer. They can help you register your name, file your taxes, and obtain licenses and permits.