How To Register A New Interior Design Business or Firm
Learn what you need to do before you register a new interior design business, how to get registered and important steps to take after to get up and running.
The information contained in this article should not be relied upon as legal, business, or tax advice. We encourage you to seek guidance from your legal counsel, business or tax specialist with regard to how the information contained in this article may or may not apply specifically to your business.
Everything You Need To Know About Registering Your Interior Design Business
If you’re just starting out, it can be challenging to navigate how to register as an interior design business. In this article, we’ll discuss what registering an interior design company means, what to do before registering, what to do after, as well as cover the main steps you need for how to register your new interior design business.
What does it mean to register an interior design firm?
Before getting into how to register an interior design firm, let’s delve into what registering your business means. In short, registering your business with local, state and/or federal governments means that it will be a separate legal entity. You might also be wondering, do you have to register your interior design business, in the first place? If you don’t have a separate name for your business and are conducting operations as yourself with your own legal name, then registration isn’t necessary.
So then what are the benefits of registering an interior design business? There are certainly many benefits, from tax and legal, to funding and marketing, and more. Keep reading to learn more about registering your business so you can decide what’s best for you.
What to do before you can register your interior design business
Before we get into how to register your interior design business, here are some key steps you should take prior to registering.
Writing a business plan
You should take some time to consider the details of what you want your business to be before registering your business. This involves writing a business plan, a crucial step which can include everything from identifying your business focus, ideal clients and market, to your long-term plans, funding sources, conducting competitive research and more. See “How to Write a Business Plan for Interior Design” for help writing your own plan.
Deciding on your business entity
When you’re starting your interior design business, you need to choose what you want the legal structure of your business to be. As a small business owner, you have many options from a sole proprietorship and general or limited partnerships, to forming a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. Before heading further down the path of registering your business, it’s essential to address this important step.
Choosing your business name
Once you’ve determined your business focus and legal structure, you’re better able to decide on a name for your interior design business. Your name can reflect and represent a lot of different aspects of your business, from your design style and which types of clients you want to work with, to the region you work in, your business structure and more. View “How to Name Your Interior Design Business” for essential tips.
Deciding where you will operate
For registration, taxation and zoning requirements, you’ll need to choose where you want to operate your business before registering. If you’re starting out in your local area within one state, then this will typically be more simplified. However, if you plan to do business in different states or open up multiple locations, then you’ll need to ensure you have all these details mapped out before registering your business in each required area.
For even more in-depth info on the initial steps to starting your business, check out our complete guide, How to Start An Interior Design Business.
How to register your interior design business
While you may not need to address all the items below depending on your needs, here’s a comprehensive set of steps to consider when registering your interior design business.
Getting a federal tax ID
If your business is a sole proprietorship or an LLC without any other employees, you only need your Social Security number for tax identification purposes. However, if you are filing as a corporation or will be hiring employees, then getting a federal tax ID is required. You can do so online at irs.gov.
Registering your trademark
Interior design businesses that wish to file a trademark will need to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Registering with the state (or states) and local agencies
It’s essential to know how to register your interior design business with the state or states in which you plan to do business. LLCs, partnerships, and corporations are typically required to register in every state where business is conducted. This can mean anything from engaging in regular meetings in that state to having employees working in a different state. Inquire with each state’s government about the types of business-related activities that require you to register, then proceed with their specific registration process, if needed.
Identifying an agent
Businesses that fall under partnership, LLC, or corporate designations will need to identify an agent in order to complete their registration and submit the necessary paperwork and filings. This agent can operate within your state, or can be yourself as long as you have a physical street address in the state of your businesses’ formation.
Submitting documents and paying fees
Preparing documents for registering your business and paying the required fees will depend on the type of business entity you’ve chosen. Refer to your local, state or federal government offices to determine what’s needed based on your business structure or visit sba.gov to learn more.
What to do after you register your interior design business
Now that you know how to register your interior design company, let’s explore what you need to do next.
Obtain licenses, permits, or certifications
While there aren’t any legal requirements to operate as an interior designer in most states, some states do require you to be registered or licensed if you’ll be working in commercial spaces unsupervised. Still, many states offer the opportunity to obtain interior design licensure in their state through an exam, which can be a great benefit to helping your business stand out.
Interior designers are known for conceptualizing stylish room designs for their clients, but they also commonly sell merchandise to clients, such as decor, furnishings, window treatments and more. Any physical items that you sell will require adding sales tax, which means that you’ll need to apply for a seller’s permit or sales tax permit within the state(s) you conduct business.
Certifications for interior design come in many forms, but if you are going to call yourself a “registered” or “certified” interior designer in certain states, you will need to meet the requirements of that state’s title law. Read “Can You Call Yourself an Interior Designer Without a License?” to learn more.
Open a business bank account
With your new business, most interior designers will want to open up a separate business bank account. This account will be used for business transactions only, which will help make your accounting and tax filing easier, as well as protect your personal finances. Business bank accounts also often come with their own perks that can benefit your business, such as access to lines of credit and merchant services. Check out “Do I Need a Separate Bank Account for My Interior Design Business?” to explore what’s best for you.
To protect yourself and your business from liability, it’s recommended that interior designers get insurance. This can help safeguard your business legally and financially in the event of any injuries, property damage, theft and other risks. View “Do Interior Designers Need Insurance?” to find out more.
Whether self-funding your business, borrowing from friends and family, taking out a loan or working with investors, your new business is going to need some cash to get started. Explore “How to Get Funds For New Interior Design Business” for helpful funding tips.
With learning how to register your interior design business, you’re now one step closer to getting your new business up and running. Continue exploring more about launching your business by reading “What Taxes Do I Pay For an Interior Design Business?”
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