Washington Business Facts
The enterprising state of Washington – home to Microsoft and Starbucks, Amazon, and Costco – was named the Top State for Business by CNBC as recently as 2017. On the whole, the nation’s largest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers live in Washington state and Washington companies benefit from the sixth-highest total of venture capital funding in the nation.
Major Companies Headquartered in Washington
In addition to those mentioned above, Washington is the headquarters of numerous major companies including Barrett Business Services, Nordstrom
T-Mobile, The Hotel Group, and Fortive.
Nearly every industry is represented in Washington with 250,000 companies either headquartered or having operations within the state. Washington entrepreneurs enjoy industry-specific tax breaks and no individual or corporate or income tax, but it should be noted that Washington does have some of the nation’s highest labor and real estate costs.
There are 3 basic options: a DBA, a Corporation, or an LLC. Click here to learn more about business entities.
Choosing a business name is easier said than done – many legal and business problems can arise from picking the wrong name. Changing your name down the road is possible, but it takes more time and money. In Step 3 we’ll show you how to search for the name in Washington, but we highly recommend you do the following before searching Washington state databases:
TIP: Search misspellings, plurals, variations of spelling, sound-alikes, and other versions of your chosen name to be sure it’s not already registered.
Restrictions on Washington Business Name & Business Purpose
Each state has its own requirements for registering a business. Now that you’ve chosen a business structure and selected your business name, here are the requirements to register your business in Washington.
How to form an LLC in Washington
How to Incorporate in Washington
Note: When registering a new company the Secretary of State can take several weeks to file the paperwork. You can expedite the process by hand delivering the documents directly to them or one of their field offices and paying an additional fee.
TIP: Check our order form to see how long Washington is currently taking to process regular and expedited orders.
How to File a DBA in Washington
Optional Considerations when registering a Washington business
Ready to register a business in Washington?
Sure, you could do all the steps above or you could spend 5-10 minutes on our order form and let us take care of it while you work on more important things.
Your EIN is like your Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLCs and optional for DBA’s (if you don’t have any employees, then it’s required). However, if you are a DBA and don’t obtain an EIN you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents so it’s typically recommended you obtain the EIN to prevent identity theft.
TIP: We will obtain your EIN for you if we form your company.
To keep business and personal expenses separate, you should open a separate account for your business. In addition, getting business credit cards is how you begin to build a company credit profile (corporation or LLC required) and can later qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. To open the account simply call your chosen bank and inquire about the steps to open a business bank account. Typically you’ll need a) your filed paperwork, b) your EIN, and c) a company resolution authorizing your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers or directors, etc.).
Click here to view a list of our recommended banks in our Vendor Network.
TIP: Our business formation service includes a free banking resolution for your use.
Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments, or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
Now that you’ve registered your business name you might need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county depending on the type of service you offer. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).
TIP: We work with a company that can obtain and prepare business licenses and permits for you. Click here to learn more.
If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both). View our “Employees & Payroll” section for help with hiring employees and processing payroll.
Review our list of recommended Payroll Providers in our Vendor Network.
There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection.
Click here to view our list of insurance providers in our Vendor Network.
Prepare the business as if someone needed to take it over and run it for you. This means you need to have a system to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business. View our “Manage Your Company” section for help with systemizing and automating your business.
Now that you’ve set up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that targets your ideal customer. View our “Marketing & Sales” section for help for more information.
DBA: Your Fictitious Business Name should be valid for 5 years (unless you change your company name or other information listed on the FBN) at which point you’ll need to renew it.
LLC: Washington corporations are required to file a Periodic Report with the Washington Secretary of State each year by the last day of their anniversary month, in addition to general taxation. Information on your business’ taxes can be found here.
Corporation: Corporations in Washington state are required to file an annual report each year by the last day of the month of incorporation. LLCs and Corporations will pay a filing cost of $60.
Click here to view our MyCompanyWorks Premium™ service which can automate most of your ongoing compliance tasks.
Washington State Secretary of State
Corporations and Charities Division (for Corporation and LLC filings)
416 Sid Snyder Ave SW
Olympia, WA 98501
Washington State Taxation Departments
Washington State Labor and Employment Departments
Washington State Startup Resources
1. Small Business Administration (SBA) Washington State District Offices
The Workshops, the SBA Education and Training Center and the SCORE Resource Center are all located at the SBA/SCORE offices in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood at the corner of 4th Avenue and Battery Street.
2. Washington State Legal Statutes:
3. Washington State Chambers of Commerce
4. Washington State Angel Investors
5. Washington State Business News
6. Washington State Small Business Development Center
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