Starting a business is no walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you break it down into manageable steps, you’ll have a business up and running in no time! If you live in Mississippi and are planning to start a business there, this guide is for you.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about starting a business in Mississippi, from picking a good business idea to registering your business with the state and even marketing your business.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
The first step in starting a business is to choose the idea on which your business will be based. At this stage of the planning process, the business idea does not have to be overly complicated or thought-out.
Coming up with a business idea can be unnerving at first, but by answering some key questions, you will be well on your way to coming up with a good business idea. These questions are designed to get you thinking about a business idea that could work.
- What hobbies, skills, interests, or passions do I have?
- Can these hobbies be turned into a profitable business?
- Can I see myself enjoying the work or running the business every day?
- Is there a gap in the Mississippi market for my business?
- What problem does my business solve for consumers?
- Are there any businesses like mine already?
- What makes my business unique?
These questions should help you formulate an initial business idea to build on in the following steps.
Step 2: Pick a Name
Choosing a name for your business is a crucial step in the process because many potential customers will base their first impressions of your business on this name.
So when choosing a name for the business, you should keep several things in mind. For example, your chosen name should be easy for people to read and pronounce, unique, and relevant to the industry and your business.
Mississippi does not allow businesses to register a name if it has already been registered with the state. You can conduct a search on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s business search tool to see if your desired name is still available.
If you’re battling to come up with a name for your business, there are a few things that you can do to get those creative juices flowing:
- Use an online name generator. These are free, and can come up with unique business names. Though you don’t have to use the exact names given, they can be a great starting point.
- Hold a brainstorming session with your friends and family.
- Create a word dump. This is where you write down every word that pops into your head when you think about your business. Then, use these words as inspiration and mesh them to create a unique business name.
Step 3: Write Your Business Plan
Now that you have decided on your business idea and the name, you will need to plan out your business and write a business plan. The business plan will contain all your research, planning, and financial goals for your business.
While there are no rules about what needs to go in your business plan, a good business plan should answer the following questions:
- Why have you started the business?
- What products or services are you offering?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on converting your target audience into paying customers?
- Who are your direct competitors?
- How do you plan on competing with them?
- How much do you need to make before you break even?
- How much are your startup costs?
- What roles will there be in the business?
- Will you need to hire employees? How many?
- What are your financial goals and predictions for the next couple of years?
Your business plan should be as comprehensive as possible because it can also be used as a marketing tool to attract potential investors to your business. If you’re still stuck on writing a business plan, you can use plenty of free online resources to get started.
Step 4: Get Funding
To start a business in Mississippi, you need money for the startup costs. If you don’t have this money upfront, you will need to get funding through different means. Three ways of doing this are generally through a grant, loan, or investor.
While the Mississippi government doesn’t offer any official grants for businesses, they have several loan programs for small businesses in the state. You can visit the Mighty Mississippi website to get more details to see if your business qualifies. Another option is to go the private route and visit a local branch of your bank to ask for a loan.
If you do not qualify for a loan or a grant, you can always see if any investors are interested in your business. Investors can also come in the form of friends and family. Just make sure to have everything in writing.
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
There are a few different business structures available in Mississippi. And choosing the structure that caters to your needs the most is crucial. Here are the business structures that you can choose from:
The sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure and is perfect for low-risk businesses. This business structure only has one owner, and there is no separation between the business’s and the owner’s assets.
A partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship as it is an informal business structure with no separation between business and personal assets. The only difference between the two is that a partnership has more than one owner with equal shares of the business.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company, also known as an LLC, is one of the most commonly used business structures for small businesses and is known as the hybrid structure. This is because it offers the simplicity and flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership, but it also has the liability protection of a corporation, offering the best of both worlds.
C or S Corporation
This is a formal business structure used by many large companies with multiple shareholders. They choose to use this structure for its great tax benefits. Unlike the two informal business structures, a corporation is an entirely separate entity from the owners.
Step 6: Register Your Business
To start your business, you may be required to register your business with the state. Here is how each company needs to do this:
This business structure does not need to be registered with the state of Mississippi to operate legally. However, if you wish to operate under a name other than your own legal name, you will need to file a fictitious business name with the state, which can easily be done online.
Like the sole proprietorship, this business structure does not need to be registered with the state. And similarly, you are required to apply for a fictitious business name if you wish to. You can do this online.
Limited Liability Company
Registering an LLC in Mississippi is quite simple. To do so, you must complete and file the Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. The fee to do this online is $50.
C or S Corporation
The process for registering this business structure is very similar to an LLC. You will need to complete and submit the Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of State and pay the $50 fee.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounting
To set up your finances, you will need to open a business bank account, apply for a company credit card, and choose what payment method your customers will use. If you have employees, you will also want to get payroll software to manage their salaries and taxes efficiently.
Hiring an accountant to assist you with your business’s books is a good idea to remain compliant with the state. You will be especially thankful for the help come tax season.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Mississippi does not require businesses to have insurance. But, business insurance is something that every business should have. You never know what can happen, so it’s good to have that extra assurance. You should, at the very least, invest in a good general liability insurance policy. This broad insurance policy will cover everything you need during the day-to-day running of the business.
Here are some other insurance policies to choose from:
- Business owners insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Limited liability company insurance
Chat with a local insurance broker to get professional advice on what is best suited for your needs.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
The state of Mississippi does not offer a state-wide general business license. However, if applicable, businesses must register for a Sales and Use Tax Certificate. This will need to be registered with the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The entire process can be done online for businesses’ convenience.
In addition, you may need to apply for other permits or licenses depending on the nature of your business and your local regulations. Chat with your local city clerk for more information on your needs.
Step 10: Build a Website
Building a website is a necessity for any business. Of course, you can hire a professional to build one for you, but nowadays, there are plenty of options, even for those that are not as tech- or code-savvy.
When building a website for your business, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Check if your desired domain name is still available.
- Your business name should be bold and easily visible to viewers. Pick a color and style that is eye-catching. Placement is also important.
- Keep all fonts neat and easy to read.
- Avoid overloading the page with images, GIFs, and videos. This can result in slower loading times, especially on mobiles or older computers.
- Make sure your website is compatible with mobiles, as many people access the internet through smartphones.
- Link the website to your other social media accounts.
- Include a call to action button, like a Shop Now or Contact Us.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
If you need to hire more workers to complete all the work you need to be done in your business, you must make sure you’re doing so legally. You are legally required to report any new hires to the Mississippi Department of Human Services online within 15 days of the hire date. There is no fee to report new hires.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The final step in starting your own business in Mississippi is to market the business. Nowadays, there are many different, fun, and creative ways to market your business on any budget. To successfully market your business, you need to remain consistent with your content and engagement as you want to build brand recognition.
Here are some of the best ways to market your business:
- Advertise your website.
- Use free social media like Facebook and Instagram to build a following and engage with clients and customers.
- Create a Google Business Profile and use Google ads.
- Advertise on your local radio or television.
- Attend business expos and events.
- Attend networking events.
- Create flyers to hand out.
- Run competitions and promotions on your social media.
- Create a monthly newsletter.
If you’re unsure how to market your business or would prefer to focus on other aspects of your business, you can hire someone to handle your marketing.