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Starting a Business in South Carolina

A complete step-by-step guide to start your business and get on the fast track to financial success.

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    Doing Business In South Carolina

    Business facts: 

    The state’s top industries include advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, and life sciences. No Fortune 500 company is based in South Carolina, though four in the Fortune 1000 do call the state home – Domtar Corp., Sonoco Products, ScanSource, and SCANA Corp. More than 1,200 international companies have operations in the state, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce. 

    Small business and Startup environment

    South Carolina has 312,108 small businesses, according to the most current federal data available.

    Of those 312,108 small businesses in South Carolina, 90,416 have employees. The remaining 221,692 are South Carolina small businesses that have no employees.

    South Carolina’s business-friendly environment is drawing new businesses that can take advantage of its longstanding workforce training program to fulfill their needs.

    Our vibrant innovation ecosystem nurtures new and growing companies with a variety of unique resources for entrepreneurs, from incubators and makerspaces to pitch events and innovation summits. Plus, you’ll benefit from a lower cost of living and competitive operating costs compared to major metros.

    Major companies:

    South Carolina is home to large companies such as: Cryovac Inc, Michelin, Sonoco, Intertech Group, KEMET Electronics, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, BE&K Inc, AVX, Medical University of South Carolina, Domtar

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    STEPS TO STARTING A BUSINESS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

    Business Structure

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    Business Name

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    Business Registration

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    EIN Tax Number

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    Bank Account

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    Licenses & Permits

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    Branding & Marketing

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    Resources

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    Step 1: Choose A Business Structure

    The most common business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and a few different types of corporations—the standard corporation (often called a C corporation or “C corp”), the small business corporation (often called an S corporation or “S corp”), and the benefit corporation (often called a B corporation or “B corp”).

    The most common business structures are:

    Step 2: Choose The Right Business Name

    Choosing a business name is important, you want to make it easier for your customers to remember it, here are some tips:

    1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
    2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
    3. Conduct a thorough Internet search.
    4. Search and purchase a domain name.
    5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
    6. Conduct a trademark search.

    Step 3: Register Your Business

    Depending on the business structure you chose you will need to register your business.

    SBA Office 

    Chamber of commerce 

    Step 4: Obtain an EIN Tax Number

    With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can’t hire employees or open a business bank account.

    Click Here to Apply for EIN number online

    Step 5: Open A Bank Account

    – Open a business bank account:

    • Separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
    • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

    – Get a business credit card:

    • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
    • Builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

    Step 6: Licenses & Permits

    Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).

    Here are some links for South Carolina Businesses:

    Selling products? Check South Carolina Resale Permit

    Business Licensing for the State of South Carolina

    Step 7: Branding & Marketing

    Your brand is the image customers have of your business, so it’s important to determine who is your audience and what is the message that you want to project. That way, your company’s image will be what you intend it to be. It should be strategic and intentional.

    Step 8: Establish a Web Presence

    Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms. A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action.

    In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

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