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Last Updated on November 2, 2021

How to Start a Business in Nevada

Nevada is a beautiful place to live, and a fantastic place to do business. The state is low-tax and business-friendly, with no state income tax, rapid population growth, and an entrepreneur-friendly business ecosystem. 

If you want to learn how to start a business in Nevada, this step-by-step guide will help. We’ll show you how to plan your project, register a new company, and build the business you’ve always dreamed of! Here’s how.

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide what kind of business you want to start. Chances are you already have something in mind, but if not, here are some things to consider:

  • What are you talented or naturally skilled at? Could this talent make you well suited to a certain type of business?
  • What business does your community need? Have you talked to people to find out?
  • What are you interested in? Can you combine any of your passions with a business idea?
  • Is this going to be a full time business, or more of a side hustle?

These are questions to ask yourself when deciding on a business idea. Once you have decided, move on to the next step.

Now it’s time to start planning. This means coming up with a business plan, naming your business, researching locations, and more. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s break it down:

Select a business name

Choosing the name for your Nevada company comes next, and this is a very important step. Take your time here to ensure that you find the right name — ideally one that is memorable, and well-suited to your industry. 

You should prioritize names that are memorable and a good fit for your business, but keep in mind that the name also must meet certain rules. Nevada has rules for LLC names and separate rules for corporation names that must be followed.

The most important rule is that the name be “distinguishable”. This basically means that the name should be unique from other businesses registered in Nevada. To confirm the availability of a name you want, you can do a Nevada business entity search online to determine if a business name is already in use or not. 

There are other important rules to consider, including: 

  • Names for LLCs need to contain “limited liability company”, or select approved abbreviations such as “LLC” or “L.L.C.”
  • Names for corporations need to contain “corporation”, “incorporated”, or select approved abbreviations such as “corp” or “inc”
  • The use of certain financial words, such as “bank” or “trust”, may require additional written permission
  • Other rules may apply. See the full legal rules for LLC names and separate rules for corporation names

Once you decide on a name, you can move onto the next step. Alternatively, you can reserve the name for 90 days by filing a form and paying a $25 filing fee. This buys you some time to think about it while reserving the name for yourself. 

Nevada trade names

While planning out the name for your business, it’s worthwhile to consider the use of trade names or DBAs. Nevada allows businesses to use trade names, which are secondary names added on to a business once it’s already formed. This provides more flexibility in how the business brands and markets itself. Learn more here

Register a domain name

Once you choose a name, you should immediately register a domain name for your new business. In most cases, getting a .com domain name is ideal, but there are many other extensions (.biz, .net, etc.) that are worth considering. 

You can use a tool like Namechk to search for an available domain name and find a great deal on the registration cost. You may find that your desired names are taken, so you may need to get creative. 

Complete market research

Once you have an idea, you’ll want to do some market research. You want to gain a better understanding of who your customers – and competitors – are. You can achieve this by conducting online research, running focus groups, sending out surveys, and more. There are also companies that can help you complete market research, for a fee. 

Select a business location

Unless you plan to run a remote/virtual business, you will need to find a physical location for your company. Research commercial property in your area, and take note of typical costs. For customer-facing businesses (retail and some services), location is very important, so take your time in selecting the right area for your business. 

Create a business plan

You will now need to create a detailed business plan for your new venture. This plan is helpful for your own purposes, and will also be necessary in order to obtain funding from a bank. A good business plan should contain these elements:

  • Finances: How much funding does the business need to get started? How many sales does it need each month to break even on expenses?
  • Product: What do you plan to sell? Is it a product or a service? What problem does your business solve, and how is it distinct from your competitors?
  • Marketing: How will you drive sales? What marketing and sales efforts do you plan to employ? How much money will you set aside to fund marketing efforts?
  • Staff & partnerships: How many people will you need to hire, and what skill sets do they need to have? Will you have any partnerships or arrangements with other local businesses? 

If you need help, you can find business plan templates online that will help walk you through the steps you need to take to draft a detailed business plan. If you plan to seek funding, you may also wish to call your bank to see what they require in terms of business plans. 

Before you form your business as a legal entity, you will need to decide which business structure you will use. There are a few different types of businesses, each with its own pros and cons.

Sole proprietorship

Sole props are single-person operations. Examples include freelancers, gig economy workers, and consultants. A sole proprietorship business is very easy and inexpensive to form, and tax reporting is also fairly simple. As a sole proprietor, your business taxes are reported as part of your personal tax return.

The downsides to a sole prop are that you cannot hire employees, and you don’t have the legal liability shield that something like an LLC or corporation would provide. 100% of the debts and liability of a sole proprietorship go to the sole owner: you. 

Partnership

A general partnership is an unincorporated business structure similar to a sole proprietorship, except with two active owners/participants. Partnerships do not have liability protection. 

Limited liability company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a popular choice for business owners because it provides liability protection to the owners. It separates the business from the owners, which means the personal assets of owners will not be at risk if the company gets sued or goes into bankruptcy. 

LLCs are also a bit easier to form than corporations. Even so, there is definitely more work involved with an LLC than there is with a sole proprietorship. 

Corporation

A corporation is owned by its shareholders and is a separate entity. There are a few different types of corporations (C-corp, S-corp, etc), with the main differences being the way they are treated tax-wise. 

Corporations are more regulated than LLCs, which makes them more attractive to outside investors. For this reason, most large companies are corporations. The downside is that it takes more effort, and more paperwork, to form a corporation. 

Nonprofit

A nonprofit is a legal entity that is set up with charitable status, meaning that its goal is not to make a profit, but rather to address a certain cause. Nonprofits are funded by donations, rather than investors, and are subject to many regulations. They are exempt from most forms of taxation, although tax returns must still be filed. 

Next up, the time has come to formally register a new business entity to legally form your new company. This is done through the Nevada Secretary of State, or online through the SilverFlume portal.

The specific steps you’ll need to follow depend on what type of business you are opening. The basics include: 

  1. Naming your company
  2. Choosing a registered agent (this individual or company is responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of the business)
  3. Filing paperwork with the state
  4. Obtaining business licenses and permits if necessary 
  5. Applying for an EIN from the IRS

You can either do the work yourself or use a paid service. Services such as Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness, and Incfile can help you with the process from start to finish and can save you a lot of time and hassle. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, it’s well worth it to use one of these services. 

If you do choose to do the work on your own, here are more detailed instructions for the most common business entities. 

Form a Nevada sole proprietorship

Follow these steps:

  1. Decide if you will operate under your legal name, or use a trade name
  2. If you use a name other than your own, you may need to register a fictitious name
  3. Apply for a Nevada State business license and/or other necessary permits from local governments (city/county)
  4. More information here

Form a Nevada LLC

Follow these steps:

  1. Name your new LLC (see notes above)
  2. Choose a Nevada Registered Agent (or use a service such as Northwest Registered Agent). The Registered Agent is responsible for receiving notice of lawsuits and other important documents, on behalf of your company
  3. File the LLC Articles of Organization online or by mail, and pay the filing fees. There is a $75 general filing fee, $150 Initial List of Members filing fee, and a $200 Business License Application fee
  4. Draft an LLC operating agreement
  5. Apply for an EIN with the IRS

Form a Nevada corporation

Follow these steps:

  1. Decide on your desired corporate tax structure (S corp or C corp) 
  2. Name your new corporation 
  3. Choose a Registered Agent for your business (or use a service)
  4. Hold an organizational meeting and appoint directors
  5. File the Nevada Articles of Incorporation online, or through the mail, and submit the appropriate filing fees ($150 Initial List of Officers/Directors filing fee, a $500 Business License Application filing fee, and a variable filing fee based on the number of shares issued). Details on the variable filing fee can be found on page 11 of this document
  6. Apply for an EIN from the IRS

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Registering your business and forming an LLC or corporation is an important part of starting your business – but in order to operate legally, you will likely also need to obtain certain permits and/or business licenses

The specifics vary depending on the type of business you are running, as well as your location. For example, restaurants will need health permits, bars will need liquor licenses, and medical service providers will need various professional licenses and federal permits. You will need to research the specifics that relate to your business type.

There are different requirements at each level of government:

At this time, you should also apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a federal tax ID that is required to hire employees. You can apply for an EIN online with the IRS – the application is free and quick. 

For most businesses, some startup funding will be necessary in order to get started. In step #2, you should have calculated your funding needs while drafting a business plan. Use this information to determine how much funding you need to raise.

For bootstrapped companies, you may be able to get by with your own personal savings, or some seed investments from friends and family. If your funding needs are small, this is likely your best route.

If your business plan indicates that substantial funding is needed, you will likely need to apply for a loan and/or a grant.

  • Small business loans are offered by banks, credit unions and other lenders. They can range from as little as a few thousand to hundreds of thousands. Specifics will depend on your business, as well as your personal creditworthiness. Most small business loans are issued in a lump sum, and paid back on a monthly basis, with interest.
  • Small business grants are offered by government agencies and some nonprofits. They are essentially business loans that don’t need to be paid back – but they usually have substantial fine print. It’s worth looking into, however, as there may be grants available, particularly for businesses serving an important social need, or for underprivileged entrepreneurs starting their first business. 

Beyond securing funding, there are other routine tasks that you need to take care of to get your business’ finances in order. This includes:

  • Opening a business checking account. You should have a separate business bank account that you use solely for business purposes. You can open this account at most banks, credit unions and financial institutions. Call ahead to see what documents will be required to open this account.
  • Open a business credit card or line of credit. This is not strictly necessary, but most businesses can benefit from having a business credit card, and/or a business line of credit. This can be used for day-to-day expenses and purchases, and may also earn you some rewards. 
  • Set up your accounting system. As a business owner, you will need to keep very detailed records about all revenue and expenses. To do this, you’ll want to set up the proper foundation from day one. This could be investing in an account software such as QuickBooks or Xero, hiring a bookkeeper, or at the very least establishing a spreadsheet to track everything. If you do not have any accounting experience, it’s wise to hire a professional to help. 
  • Purchase business insurance. Most businesses should have some form of liability insurance, and potentially other forms of business insurance as well. Insurance policies can help protect your equipment and buildings from costly damage, and help shield your company from liability if a worker or customer is injured or otherwise harmed. Speak with a local business insurance provider to get started. 

In this day and age, having a solid web presence for your business is very important. And social media profiles, while important, are no replacement for an actual website. You will want to build a professional business website that you can use to drum up business, inform your customers, and stay connected with your clientele. 

The simplest way to build a website is to use a website builder from a web hosting provider. When you register a new domain name, look for a provider that also offers web hosting and a site builder, so that you can purchase everything at once and get your site set up quickly. 

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Unless you plan to operate a solo business (with you as the only worker), you will likely need to hire employees. To do this, you will need a federal employer identification number (EIN), which is a free tax ID number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  

There are also state-level requirements that employers must comply with. Employers must report new hires within 20 days of the hire date, and must also register for and pay employer tax as well as unemployment insurance tax.

There will likely be additional tax and reporting requirements to comply with. Check with your accountant for details. 

At this point, you also should look into setting up your payroll system – whether you handle it yourself, or use a payroll service. 

Now it’s time to get down to business and engage with the day-to-day activities that are sure to bring your business success. This means marketing your products and services, maintaining good relationships with your return customers, and setting yourself apart from the competition.

Still have questions about running a business in Nevada? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

What are some business resources in Nevada?

Nevada entrepreneurs have access to tons of useful resources, organizations, and incubators. The Nevada Small Business Development Center (SBDC) should be your first stop. The SBDC offers free business coaching and can help connect you to valuable resources throughout the state. The Nevada District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA) also has many helpful resources.

What is the minimum wage in Nevada?

The Nevada minimum wage is $8.75 per hour if the employee is offered qualifying health benefits, or $9.75 per hour if qualifying health benefits are not provided (details here). This is valid as of 2021, but the minimum wage is scheduled to rise by $0.75 per year until 2024. Check with the Nevada Department of Business & Industry or the Nevada Office of the Labor Commissioner for details.

Keep in mind that it is possible for individual cities or counties to impose their own minimum wage laws that may exceed Nevada’s minimum wage. Check with local government officials in your area to ensure your business is compliant with all local rules.

What business taxes does Nevada have?

Nevada firms will need to pay several business taxes on the state level. Nevada has no sales tax and has no corporate income tax either. Most firms will be subject to modified business tax, however. 

Employers will be subject to employer tax as well as unemployment insurance tax. And firms with annual revenue exceeding $4 million will need to pay the Commerce tax.

How do I dissolve an LLC or Corporation in Nevada?

To shut down a Nevada company, the owner(s) must “dissolve” it. This process involves filing voluntary dissolution paperwork with the state. For LLCs, this is the Certificate of Dissolution, and for corporations, it’s the Certificate of Dissolution/Withdrawal

The process differs slightly for LLCs compared to corporations. It’s recommended to work with a CPA for this process, as it can be complex. More information can be found here.

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