How Do I Start a Small Business in Lancaster, South Carolina?

15 Feb, 2024

On Behalf of Mack & Mack Attorneys | business law

Starting a business is an exciting prospect, but can also be complicated and overwhelming. You want to make sure that you are registering and licensing your business properly, that your business name is available, that you are considering all the costs involved so that you leave yourself margin, etc. Working with a Lancaster business formation attorney can give you the confidence and peace of mind to start your business.

Who Needs a Business License in Lancaster?

If you are operating your new business within the city limits of Lancaster, you will certainly need a business license. If your business is operating in Lancaster County, outside of the city, then you will not need a business license. You may still need to take other steps, however, such as registering your business and making sure your business name is not infringing on another business.

Depending on the type of business structure you choose, the licensing and required legal steps will vary. Common business structures include:

Steps to Take When Starting a Business in South Carolina

Starting a business can feel complex. The necessary steps can seem difficult, even if you have devoted significant time and resources to planning everything out. Outlining the steps required can help you break down the timeline and necessary actions into more manageable steps.

  1. Decide on your business. When choosing a business idea, make sure to look at the needs of the community you are planning to serve, what competition you will have, and how to make yourself stand out. You should also inventory your resources, skills, assets, etc. This may be the most important step in setting yourself up for success.
  2. Choose a legal structure for your business. This will flow from the kind of business you think will succeed. If, for example, you plan to run the business out of your home and do not need employees, you may opt for sole proprietorship. Other options, such as a Limited Liability Corporation, may be better if your business has higher risk.
  3. Pick a business name. Your business name should not only be appealing and help advertise your business to potential customers but should also be distinguishable from existing businesses.
  4. File organizational documents. Each type of business, from an LLC to a corporation, requires different papers or articles to be filed. Sole proprietorships and partnerships do not need to file articles, but it is often wise to have a written agreement for partnerships, and it may be helpful to file documents even if not required.
  5. Acquire permits and licenses. This can include various licenses and registrations, including:
    • A retail license is if you are planning to sell merchandise that has a sales tax.
    • Employer withholding tax if you are hiring employees.
    • Employer Identification Number if you are hiring employees or potentially opening a business bank account.
    • Regulatory permits and licenses, such as environmental, health, and building permits.

Beyond all these steps, you may also need to pick a physical business location and make sure it has the proper requirements like zoning and permits. You will need to verify how you should file your taxes for your business and for any employees. You may need to acquire insurance for your building, for your employees, or even for yourself. Finally, you will need to decide how to manage your business’s finances, such as by opening a separate bank account or hiring an accountant.

What to Expect From a Business Formation Attorney

A qualified business formation attorney can walk you through the processes and paperwork of creating a business and then break it down into manageable steps and decisions. Skilled attorneys will often have decades of experience that allows them to help you:

  • Choose what type of business structure suits your needs
  • Understand filing requirements for your business and building
  • Build a solid company by making sure it meets all legal requirements
  • Plan for the future of your business by making sure you understand when to renew licenses and permits
  • Consider potential legal issues when starting a business
  • Feel confident about your new business


Q: Does Lancaster Require a Business License?

A: You are not required to have a business license if you are operating solely in Lancaster County. However, if your business will operate within the city of Lancaster, South Carolina, you are required to obtain a business license. If you are looking to operate a business in multiple counties or cities, then you should check the requirements for these locations as well.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Start a Business in South Carolina?

A: The cost of starting a business ranges widely. Licenses, permits, and other necessary documents often come with filing fees, so you should expect to spend at least $100. This does not take into account any costs for opening a storefront, acquiring merchandise, creating a website, or any other business costs. These business costs are determined by the type and scale of the business you open.

Q: Do You Need a Business License to Operate in South Carolina?

A: Whether you need a business license to operate in South Carolina depends on where you want to operate your business and what kind of business you plan to own. If you have no employees, no fictional name for your business, and are operating under a sole proprietorship, you should not need a business license. Otherwise, you will need to check with the county and city you want to operate in.

Q: What Is the Average Cost of a Business License in South Carolina?

A: The cost to start a business in South Carolina depends on the type of business you are creating. Retail businesses likely need a sales tax license, while other businesses may require environmental permits. Creating and acquiring a license for an LLC, for example, will cost around $110 to file the necessary articles and an additional $25 to reserve a name. If, however, you are starting a business with a sole proprietorship, it is not required to have a business license.

Getting Started With a Lancaster Business Formation Attorney

If you are looking to start a business in Lancaster, South Carolina, Mack & Mack Attorneys wants to support you. We can answer questions, help with paperwork, and set you up for success as you enter the business marketplace. Reach out to us today to work with a Lancaster business formation attorney and get started on your business.

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