While Connecticut may not be the first state entrepreneurs think of for startups, Connecticut does offer significant advantages for those community-minded businesspeople looking to build a small business where they know that the quality of life will be high—and the community friendly to fledgling businesses. Hartford, New Haven, and Springfield have all been named as some of the best cities for companies that value quality of life as a factor in where they plan to settle. Even more importantly, these businesses largely achieve financial success. In fact, small businesses in the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford area had an average annual revenue of $2,145,214—higher than most metro areas in the country.
If you are ready to join one of the hundreds of thousands of successful small business owners in Connecticut, you can review the basics below. Once you’re committed to making your startup a success, you can schedule a free consultation with a Connecticut business lawyer from Priori's vetted network.
How to Register a Business in Connecticut
Technically, there is no single action you need to take to register a business in Connecticut. There are, however, two basic processes by which companies gain legal recognition in the state: registering a business name and incorporation.
Registering a Company Name
If you want to register your company’s name in the state of Connecticut, but are not yet ready to incorporate or plan to remain a sole proprietorship, you must file for a trade name with the Connecticut Commercial Recording Division. This process is commonly called registering a “Doing Business As” or a DBA. Once you have a DBA, you can use your trade name on contracts to represent yourself professionally instead of your personal information. It’s important to remember, however, that if you only have a DBA and are not incorporated, you are personally liable for the debts in your company’s name, since it is not a separate legal entity.
The more common way for your company to receive formal recognition in Connecticut is to incorporate. By registering as a legal entity, you get not only the benefits of legal recognition but also a legal framework under which to structure your company. Many legal business structures in Connecticut will also limit your personal liability and determine how you are personally and professionally taxed for the profits you earn.
The following are the most common corporate structures company choose to incorporate as in Connecticut:
- Corporations: Corporations, especially C-Corps, are the most common choice. They confer an individual tax entity and limited liability. To incorporate as a C-Corp, B-Corp, or S-Corp, you must file a Certificate of Incorporation, appoint a registered agent, and pay your filing fee with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
- LLCs. LLCs are also quite common in Connecticut. These have much more flexible corporate structures and are typically taxed as pass-through entities. To incorporate as an LLC, you must file Articles of Organization, appoint a registered agent, and pay your filing fee with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
- Registered Limited Liability Partnerships. In Connecticut, limited liability partnerships are commonly used for groups of professionals or real estate holdings. To incorporate as a partnership, you must file Certificate of Limited Liability Partnership, appoint a statutory agent, and pay your filing fee with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
- Sole Proprietorships. There is no need to file as a sole proprietorship in Connecticut. All you must do for recognition is file a DBA. It’s important to keep in mind, however that a sole proprietorship does not limit your personal liability.
Getting Your Tax IDs
After your company has legal recognition in Connecticut, you will need proper federal and state tax IDs, so you can start filing relevant taxes immediately. You’ll need to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number with the IRS to pay federal taxes, such as social security and corporate income taxes.
At the state level, you will need to get a tax ID from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. You can register either online or on paper using Form REG-1. This number must be used to pay Connecticut’s biennial Business Entity Tax simply for existing as a registered company. You’ll also need to pay other Connecticut taxes as they apply to your industry, including:
- Sales tax,
- Use tax,
- Withholding tax,
- Franchise tax,
- Controlling interest transfer tax,
- Real estate conveyance tax,
- Motor vehicle fuels tax, and
- Motor carrier road tax.
Other Small Business Requirements in Connecticut
To operate legally in Connecticut there are three other small business requirements in Connecticut that every company must comply with.
All new businesses in Connecticut are required to to obtain state licenses corresponding to their available services and industry of operation. To find out which licenses may apply to you, you can complete the verification process at the Connecticut Licensing Info Center. After identifying which licenses apply to you, you can register immediately. It also may help to discuss exactly which licenses you may need with a Connecticut small business lawyer, as they can help your company comply fully and file for additional federal licenses and permits that you may also need.
In addition to state permits, most cities and counties require additional local permits to be applied for before you can operate. Where you will need to check for applicable permits depends on where your business plans to operate, but generally you can find more information on county and municipal business websites. Common local permits include:
- Zoning Permits,
- Waste Permits,
- Building Permits,
- Health Permits,
- Occupational Permits, and
- Signage Permits.
Every small business with even one employee needs to be covered by workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. In Connecticut, this is accomplished by paying workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance taxes.
In addition, every company must independently purchase other kinds of insurance as relevant. Depending on your company’s size and legal structure, this may include disability, health insurance, rental or owner’s insurance, and others. Insurance requirements of small businesses are not limited to employees either. To find out exactly which types of insurance are required, as well as which simply are smart investments, check local requirements and ask a Priori Connecticut insurance lawyer.
What other legal issues do I face when starting a business in Connecticut?
Many. When you start a small business in Connecticut, you face a number of unique and unexpected legal and financial challenges that would be impossible to detail here. The best way to protect your new company’s best interests is to get expert advice from a Connecticut startup lawyer.
Is Connecticut a good place to have a small business?
With the right strategy and planning, yes. Small businesses in the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford grow every year, and even in towns dominated by larger companies like Fairfield, where GE remains the largest employer, a large percentage of residents are employed by successful small businesses. You can even get assistance launching and financing your small business through Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program. As Governor Dannel P. Malloy says, “When our small businesses succeed, Connecticut wins” and there are plenty of programs in place to help your small business succeed.