Starting a Business

Starting your own business can be the most wonderful, challenging, amazing, frustrating, rewarding experience you’ve ever undertaken. 

We want to help you along your journey by sharing resources and information you can add to your toolkit.

If you already know the basic information for your business (name, type of legal structure, type of business), you customize your entrepreneurial journey by visiting Epicenter’s SmartStartMem wizard that will give you a checklist to get started.

If you are starting from square one, you can follow along using these steps:

Step One
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Step One

Draft Business Plan

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. What’s important is that your plan meets your needs. This written guide from the SBA will help you map out how to start and run your business successfully.

Step Two
Step Two

Get Training

There are plenty of free training and counseling services to help you start and grow your business. The Memphis Public Library and the Memphis Office of Business Diversity and Compliance also have a trove of resources and hold free seminars, many virtual.

    Step Three
    Step Three

    Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

    Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

    Step Four
    Step Four

    Select a Business Location

    Learn how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning rules,

    Step Five
    Step Five

    Finance Your Business

    Find government-backed loans, grants and other funding mechanisms to help get started.

    Step Six
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    Step Six

    Register your Business Name

    Register your business name with the State of Tennessee, but first, check that no one else has trademarked that name.

    Step Seven
    Step Seven

    Get a Tax Identification Number

    Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

    Step Eight
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    Step Eight

    Register for State and Local Taxes

    Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance. Shelby County (situs code 7900) and Memphis (situs code 7901) have a business tax.

    Step Nine
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    Step Nine

    Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

    Step 10
    Step 10

    Understand Employer Responsibilities

    Call 311 for a service request

    Call 211 for community services

    901-636-6500

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