Start Your Own Business in Mississippi: Seven Steps You Need to Take

From licenses and permits to taxes and insurance, learn what you need to do to start a business in Mississippi.



Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in Mississippi.

Step 1. Decide on a Legal Structure

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability company (LLC), and
  • corporation.

There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Check Choose Your Business Structure on Nolo’s website for more information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

Step 2. Choose a Name

For LLCs and corporations, you will need to check that your name is distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the Mississippi Secretary of State (SOS). You can check for available names by doing a business name search on the SOS website. You can reserve an available name for 180 days by filing anApplication for Name Reservation with the Mississippi SOS. You will need to register with the Mississippi SOS’s online filing system to get the name reservation application form. There are certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as “LLC” for LLCs or “Company” for corporations). See How to Form an LLC in Mississippi and How to Form a Corporation in Mississippi for more information.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in Mississippi have the option to file a Fictitious Business Name Registrationwith the Mississippi SOS if they use a business name that is different from the names of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or individual partners (for a partnership). Fictitious names expire after five years and may be renewed indefinitely.

If you plan on doing business online, you may want to register your business name as a domain name. See Choose and Register a Domain Name for more information. In addition, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use. See How to Do a Trademark Search for more information.

Step 3. Create Your Business Entity

  • Sole proprietorship: To establish a sole proprietorship in Mississippi, you don’t need to file any documents. For more information, see How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in Mississippi.
  • Partnership: To create a general partnership in Mississippi, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. Although not legally required, all partnerships should have a written partnership agreement . The partnership agreement can be very helpful if there is ever a dispute among the partners. For more information, see How to Form a Partnership in Mississippi. To form a limited liability partnership(often used by professionals), you must file a Statement of Qualification with the Mississippi SOS. For more information, see How to Form a Limited Liability Partnership in Mississippi.
  • LLCs: To create an LLC in Mississippi, you must file a certificate of formation with the Mississippi SOS. Filing must be done online. You will also need to appoint a registered agent in Mississippi for service of process. In addition, while not required by law, you also should prepare an operating agreement to establish the basic rules about how your LLC will operate. The operating agreement is not filed with the state. For more information, see How to Form an LLC in Mississippi and How to Form a Professional LLC in Mississippi (for professionals).
  • Corporations: To create a corporation in Mississippi, you must file articles of incorporation with the Mississippi SOS. Filing must be done online. You will also need to appoint a registered agent in Mississippi for service of process. Although not legally required, you also should prepare bylaws to establish your corporation’s internal operating rules. Bylaws are not filed with the state. S Corporations must also file IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, with the IRS. For more information, see How to Form a Corporation in Mississippi.

Step 4. Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration. If you will be selling goods in Mississippi, you must register to collect sales tax with the Mississippi Department of Revenue (DOR). If you will have employees in Mississippi, you must register with the DOR for employer withholding tax. For both types of tax, you can register online using the Mississippi Taxpayer Access Point (TAP).

EIN. If your business has employees or is taxed separately from you, you must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not required to obtain an EIN, there are often business reasons for doing so. Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the business’s name and other companies you do business with may require an EIN to process payments. You can get an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

Regulatory licenses and permits. These cover areas such as:

  • health and safety
  • the environment
  • building and construction; and
  • specific industries or services.

For regulatory licenses and permits issued by the state, check the section covering “Do I need a business license?” on the Mississippi Small Business Development Center FAQ page. For information about local licenses and permits, check the websites for any cities or counties where you will do business.

Professional and occupational licenses. These cover people who work in various fields. You can get information about the state agencies that license and regulate many professions and occupations from the Professional Licensessection of the ms.gov website.

Step 5. Business Location and Zoning

You’ll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. That includes if you work from home. You may be able to find zoning regulations for your town or city by checking municode.com.

Step 6. Taxes and Reporting

Mississippi taxes every kind of business. See Mississippi State Business Income Tax for more information on state business taxes in Mississippi.

Sole proprietorships. Pay state taxes on business income as part of their personal state income tax returns (Form 80-105).

Partnerships. Partners pay state taxes on partnership income on personal tax returns. In addition, most partnerships also must file Form 84-105, Pass-Through Entity Tax Return.

LLCs. Members pay state taxes on their share of LLC income on personal tax returns. In addition, the LLC itself must file Form 84-105, Pass-Through Entity Tax Return. Furthermore, the LLC also must file an annual report with the Mississippi SOS. See Mississippi LLC Annual Report and Tax Requirements for more information.

Corporations. Shareholders must pay states taxes on their dividends from the corporation. A shareholder-employee with a salary also must pay state income tax on his or her personal state tax return. Moreover, the corporation itself is subject to Mississippi corporation taxes and a corporate franchise tax. Finally, corporations must file an annual report with the Mississippi SOS.

If you have employees, you must also deal with state employer taxes.

And, apart from Mississippi taxes, there are always federal income and employer taxes. Check IRS Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Taxpayers Starting a Business, available at irs.gov.

Step 7. Insurance

Insurance is a good idea for most kinds of business. While insurance often is regulated at the state level, the types of business insurance available are usually similar across the fifty states. Check Obtaining Business Insurance for more information.

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