How to Start a Sole Proprietorship in Wyoming

Last updated: March 12th, 2024
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If you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking to establish a sole proprietorship, look no further than the state of Wyoming, renowned for its small business-friendly climate. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps and requirements to successfully launch your sole proprietorship in Wyoming, allowing you to take advantage of the state’s favorable tax laws and streamlined business regulations.

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What is a sole proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship, also known as a sole prop, is a simple and common business structure where an individual operates and owns a business.

In a sole proprietorship, the business and the owner are considered one and the same for tax purposes, making it the easiest and most straightforward form of business ownership.

As a sole proprietor, you have complete control over your business’s operations and decisions, and you are personally responsible for its debts and obligations.

Examples of a sole proprietorship

Sole proprietorships can be found in various industries and sectors. For example:

  • Freelancers or independent contractors, such as writers, graphic designers, consultants, and photographers, often operate as sole proprietors.
  • Retailers, including small shops, boutiques, or online stores, are commonly structured as sole proprietorships.
  •  Professional service providers, like doctors, lawyers, accountants, or architects, who operate their practices independently without partners or shareholders, typically run their businesses as sole proprietors.
  •  Tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other skilled individuals working independently and providing direct services to customers often choose the sole proprietorship structure.

Additionally, many home-based businesses, such as daycare providers, home-based bakeries, or personal trainers, operate as sole proprietorships. These are just a few examples of the wide range of businesses that can be established as sole proprietorships.

What qualifies your business as a sole proprietorship?

A business qualifies as a sole proprietorship when it is owned and operated by a single individual without forming a separate legal entity such as a corporation or partnership. In this business structure, the owner and the business are not distinct entities but rather treated as one. Any new business activity conducted under your own name is considered a sole proprietorship unless it is otherwise formed.

Sole proprietorship vs LLC

A sole proprietorship is a business structure where a single individual owns and operates as an unincorporated business entity. The business owner assumes all liabilities and responsibilities personally, and there is no legal separation between the individual and the business.

An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a business structure that provides small business owners, known as members, with limited personal liability protection. It combines elements of both a corporation and a partnership, offering flexibility in management and taxation. The members of an LLC are not personally responsible for the company’s debts and obligations, and their personal assets are generally shielded from business liabilities.

Who is it best for?

A sole proprietorship is best suited for individuals who want to start a small-scale business with minimal bureaucratic requirements and legal complexities. It is ideal for entrepreneurs who wish to maintain complete control and decision-making authority over their business. Since there are no partners or shareholders involved, the sole proprietor has the flexibility to make quick decisions and adapt to changing market conditions without consulting or seeking approval from others. This business structure is particularly suitable for those who want to test their business ideas or ventures on a smaller scale before considering expansion or involving additional stakeholders.

Additionally, sole proprietorships are well-suited for individuals who prefer simplicity and ease of operation. With no formal paperwork or extensive legal formalities required to establish the business, sole proprietors can save time and resources that might be otherwise spent on compliance and administrative tasks.

How to set up a sole proprietorship in Wyoming

While there are no required steps to form a sole proprietorship, there may be other processes that are important for operating a business in Wisconsin. Your own business may have unique circumstances that mean there are other important steps, but some of the most common are surrounding names and licensing.

Is there state-required paperwork required to form a sole proprietorship?

There is no formal paperwork required to establish a sole proprietorship.

While other business structures like corporations or limited liability companies (LLCs) may have associated paperwork, a sole proprietorship does not require any formal registration with the Secretary of State.

Name your business

During the formation of other business structures, the initial paperwork like Articles of Incorporation will include choosing a business name. In a sole proprietorship, this doesn’t happen, so you have other options as the owner.

Using your own name

The simplest thing to do is use your own legal name as the name of your business. Since a sole proprietorship and its owner are one legal entity, they share all government markers like Social Security Number and a name, without any steps necessary. You can move forward under your personal name as the default option. 

Setting up a DBA

If you do want to use another name for your business, Wyoming allows for trade names to be filed. These names, also called a “Doing Business As”, are used to operate the business publicly. You must choose a name that meets all state naming requirements and file an Application for Registration of Trade Name, which includes a $100 filing fee. 

Wyoming licenses 

The most general business license in Wyoming is the sales tax license, which any business that sells taxable goods or services must have in place. While there is no other general license at the state level, many businesses do need to obtain professional licensing in order to operate. The Wyoming Business Licensing and Permitting Guide lists these, which include food manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers 

Additionally, the city or county where your business is located may have their own requirements. You should always contact the local county clerk’s office to ensure you have all zoning clearances and licenses that are necessary.

Pros

  • Complete control over business decisions and operations.
  • Simplicity and ease of formation without extensive paperwork.
  • Minimal compliance requirements and lower costs.
  • Direct access to business profits without sharing with partners or shareholders.
  • Flexibility to make quick decisions and adapt to market changes.

Cons

  • Unlimited liability for business debts and legal claims.
  • Difficulty in raising startup capital compared to other business structures.
  • Lack of legal separation between personal and business assets.
  • Limited options for sharing ownership or bringing in partners.
  • Reliance on the owner’s skills and resources.
  • Some lenders and business bank accounts may not be available.

FAQs

Can a sole proprietorship be operated from home?

Yes, many sole proprietorships operate from home, particularly in service-based or online businesses. However, local zoning and licensing regulations should be checked before starting a home-based business, as each jurisdiction may have their own requirements.

Can a sole proprietorship have a business name different from the owner’s name?

Yes, a sole proprietorship can operate under a business name, also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) or trade name. In Wyoming, this is done by filing an Application for Registration of Trade Name with the state, which allows you to claim the name and prevents other businesses from using it.

What are the advantages of a sole proprietorship?

Sole proprietorships are often chosen because they are simple to start and operate, with few compliance requirements on an ongoing basis. This also means there is little cost associated with the business entity. Additionally, owners enjoy complete control over the business and the ability to claim income and expenses on their personal tax returns.

Can a sole proprietorship have business insurance?

Yes, a sole proprietorship can obtain business insurance coverage to gain legal protection against various risks, such as liability insurance or property insurance. Some types of businesses may qualify for additional insurance for their industry.

Does Wyoming require sole proprietorships to have workers’ compensation insurance?

If you operate as a sole proprietorship in Wyoming and have no employees, you are generally not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Since workers’ compensation provides coverage for workplace injuries and illnesses, and there are no employees involved, the obligation may not apply. However, some industries like construction do require this coverage.

Does a sole proprietor need business licenses?

There may be local permits or licenses that you need to obtain depending on the type of business you are planning. It’s always recommended to check with the local authorities or a business attorney to ensure compliance with any specific requirements in your area.

How does a sole proprietorship pay taxes? 

In a sole proprietorship, the business owner reports the business income and expenses on their personal income tax return. The business itself does not file a separate tax return, and its individual tax rate applies.

The owner uses Schedule C, “Profit or Loss from Business,” which is attached to their individual Form 1040.

Does a sole proprietor pay self-employment taxes?

Yes. the owner is responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which include both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Additionally, the owner may need to make estimated quarterly tax payments to the IRS throughout the year.

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