Last Updated on Dec 7, 2023

Hawaii Secretary of State Business Search

Dreaming of starting a business on Lanikai Beach, wearing an Aloha shirt, and handing out leis? Before you get your heart set on heading to the Big Isle, you need to do some research about doing business in Hawaii. The first thing you will need to do is pick a business name. Hawaii, like all states, has rules about what kind of name you can have. You will need to do a business name search.

We have a great guide on how to do that for the State of Hawaii and also include some excellent tips and advice for how you can make your business erupt with success.

Conducting a business search in the State of Hawaii is a little different from other states because there isn’t a clear Secretary of State Corporations page to start on. Even so, you can still look to see what business names are being used.

1. Go to 

On the page, you will see the link to register a business. That is where you click.

2. Click on search mode

You can decide how you will search for a name. You can search with the word the name begins with or a more general mode where the name contains certain words. 

3. Type the name in the name bar

You can type the name you are considering or a series of words you may want to use, depending on how you are searching.

The website will generate a list of businesses in Hawaii with either the name or similar names. It could also include all businesses with your favorite keywords. The website stresses this isn’t a definitive list of names and you shouldn’t assume your chosen name is available until you are approved and receive your certificate from the state.

5. Consider reserving a name

After running a Hawaii business name search, you have two options: You can reserve a name or you can register the name. You should reserve the name if you aren’t planning to set up the business immediately. 

Hawaii allows business owners to reserve a name for 120 days for $10.  

To do so, you’ll fill out a quick form and provide the payment. 

Again, you don’t need to reserve a name if you plan to officially set up your business with the state of Hawaii, but if you’re just doing some homework and plan to set up your business later, reserve the name now so it’s not taken when you’re ready. 

6. Check domain name availability


Now that you know a little more about the business landscape in the state, it’s time to start generating a list of names for your business. To do so, follow these steps: 

1. Write down basic details about your business

Start by creating a verbal picture of your business. Think about what your business will offer and who it will serve. Will you sell a specific product or service? Who’s going to buy it? Jot down a few details about your company as a starting point. 

Next, start creating a list of adjectives that describe your business. Think in terms of keywords. What keywords would your customer use to find the product or service that you offer? Write them down. 

2. Stay away from initials and hard-to-say words

There are plenty of businesses that include initials, like A&J Plumbing, but consider upping your game with something a bit more creative and descriptive. 

The same goes for names that are hard to say. If your last name is Stackowaski, for example, it’s not conducive to a business name because it’s too hard to pronounce.

3. Don’t pigeon-hole your business

Be careful not to select a name that limits your company’s potential growth. Think about where your business will be in five, ten, even twenty years, and take that into consideration when creating a name. 

A company named Bob’s Bargain Books, for example, is a good name, but what if they plan to sell vintage records and cassettes down the road? The name only refers to books, so when vintage music is added people won’t associate it with the store. 

4. Consider using a name generator

At this point, you probably have a list of a few ideas. Rather than brainstorm a bunch of different combinations, why not try a name generator? You simply enter a few of the adjectives that you came up with into the search bar and you’ll get a list of possible names. 

Name generators can take some of the hassles out of creating a name. Most name generators will only show you available names too, which is helpful. 

Check out some of Namechk’s name generators below:

As you research available business names in Hawaii, you’ll also want to think about what kind of business you want to establish. There are a handful of options to choose from, but some of the most common are Sole proprietorship and LLC. 

  • A sole proprietorship is ideal for small businesses with no employees that want to test their business out. There’s virtually no paperwork to set up this kind of business, which is a plus. However, a sole proprietorship is not a separate business entity, which means you’re financially and legally responsible for any problems that might arise.
  • An LLC, or limited liability company, provides a certain amount of liability protection. Your personal assets and your business are separate with this business structure, which means if the business is sued or goes bankrupt, you will not be forced to use your personal cash reserves to bail the business out.  

Ready to set up your business in HI? Here’s what you do: 

1. File your Articles of Organization

Visit the Hawaii Secretary of State website and fill out the Articles of Organization. To fill this out, you’ll need to have an available business name, address, and contact information. 

2. Name a registered agent

You’ll also need to name a registered agent. A registered agent is the point-person for your company who will receive important documents like tax notices or legal documents. 

A registered agent must be trustworthy and be available during regular business hours when documents are delivered. The business owner can serve as the registered agent in Hawaii, or another person or company can be named. 

You might decide to name your accountant or co-founder, for example. You can also hire a registered agent service to serve in this role. Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness, and Bizee are a few examples. These companies will receive documents on your behalf and notify you of their arrival. 

3. Pay the filing fee

Every state charges a filing fee to file LLC formation documents with the government. In Hawaii, the cost is $50.

4. Wait for approval

Hawaii will review your application and typically provides approvals within five business days. Once approved, your business is officially set up.

Our picks of the best registered agent services

Worry-free services and expert support

Visit ZenBusiness

Transparent and hassle-free, our number one pick

Visit Northwest

Fast and easy way to set up LLC

Visit Bizee

Starting a business in Hawaii may be something you want to do now but you should know some facts first. Check out these facts about the state from the U.S. Business Administration

  • Hawaii has 121,141 small businesses
  • Small businesses that employee others total 23,990
  • Small businesses that don’t have employees total 97151
  • There were 258,345 workers in Hawaii employed by small businesses in 2012, which amounted to half of the state’s private workforce.
  • 52% of Hawaii’s small business employment is by firms of less than 100 people
  • The state’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2014, the last numbers reported to the U.S. Business Administration. That was below the 5.8% national average.
  • The state’s top industries are “other services except public administration,” health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and tech services, accommodation and food services, retail and construction. It is uncertain what other services are but it could be military.

To further help entrepreneurs, check out these frequently asked questions about starting a business in Hawaii:

Why is it so important to check on business name availability? 

Hawaii will not allow two businesses in the state to have the same name. There are many reasons for this, but at its core, it’s to avoid any confusion. For example, if someone plans to sue Bob’s Fruit Stand and there are two of these companies in the state, things can get complicated quickly. 

All businesses must have a unique name. And, you can’t just add a hyphen to a name to make it different. Each name must be “distinguishingly different.”

Is starting a business in Hawaii difficult?

In spite of the gorgeous weather, a wealth of tourism, and other positive factors, most experts state that it is more challenging to start a business in Hawaii than in other places. It is a matter of economics and rankings in 20 key indicators selected by WalletHub.

Hawaii has the highest cost of living of any state and also ranks high as one with the highest labor costs. It has low industry variety and also has limited office space available.

What are the best business opportunities for entrepreneurs in Hawaii?

The Aloha state is centered heavily around tourism so businesses that gear to that or provide services for other tourist businesses could have some opportunities. 

Top Hawaiian businesses that are always growing and thriving include tour guide companies, boat transportation, Hawaiian clothes makers, vacation rental services, real estate advertising website creator or designer, and commercial landscaping businesses. Other revenue-generating businesses in Hawaii include home stores that feature Hawaii styles and small grocery stores or convenience stores. 

Grocery stores are in huge need in the state. Most people are shopping at the big chain warehouse-type stores but would prefer to shop smaller.

Will I need to fill out an annual report once I register my business in Hawaii?

Yes, Hawaii requires business owners to file an annual report. All those registered with the state, including limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs),  business corporations, and nonprofits are included in the mandated filing.

The cost is $15. Reports must be filed according to the registration anniversary date. They are due during the quarter the anniversary date falls in. For instance, those registered on Jan. 10 are required to file their annual report between Jan. 1 and March 31.

The quarters end on March 31, June 30, Sept. 30, and Dec. 31.

What are some of the most profitable businesses in Hawaii?

The top five most profitable businesses in Hawaii are:

1. Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc with $2.3 billion in annual revenue and a $248.2 million profit, which is 10% profit on its generated revenue. 
2. Hawaiian Holdings with $2.4 billion in annual revenue and $235.4 million in profit, amounting to 10% profit on its generated revenue.   
3. First Hawaiian Bank with $736 million in annual revenue and $230.1 million in profit, which is 31% of generated revenue.
4. Bank of Hawaii Corp. with $655 million in annual revenue and $181.4 million in profit, which is 28% of its generated revenue.
5. Alexander & Baldwin Inc. with $387 million in annual revenue and $84.7 million in profit, which is 22% of its generated revenue.

What are taxes like in Hawaii?

According to the Chamber of Commerce, the state is business-friendly when it comes to taxes. The non-profit Tax Foundation ranks Hawaii’s property tax 11th in the country. That makes leasing or buying commercial property more affordable.

Can a small business survive in Hawaii?

The small business survival rate in Hawaii is quite good, according to the Chamber of Commerce. It ranks in the top 15 states where a small business lasts more than a year with 80.33% surviving it past the first year.

Additionally, small businesses make up 99.3% of all businesses in the state and 57.5 percent are minority-owned.

Business owners in Hawaii have a median annual income of $49,619.