How to Start a Business in Arkansas


Starting a business in Arkansas can be a great opportunity for you to develop new skills and make more money. However, it’s important to do your research before jumping into a new venture. This guide will walk you through the steps of starting a business in Arkansas.

Decide What Kind of Business you Want

Now that you’ve decided to start a business, it’s time to think about what kind of business you want to start. What is your passion? What kind of business will be most profitable? What kind of business will be easiest to run? And lastly, what kind of business will be easiest to scale?

Do a Name Search

The first step to take when you’re launching a business is to do a name search for your company. This ensures that the name of your company is available and not already trademarked or used by another business in Arkansas.

To do this:

  • Check with the Secretary of State’s Office
  • Check with the Department of Revenue (Tax Assessor’s Office)
  • Check with the Department of Labor (Worker’s Compensation Division)
  • Check with the Attorney General’s Office

Select a Business Structure

The first step to starting your business is selecting the appropriate legal structure for your operation. There are many different types of business structures, but the most common options include:

  • Corporation (C corporation)
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Partnership/sole proprietorship

Register a Trading Name for your Business

A trade name is the name of your business that you want to use on your products, packaging, and marketing materials. If you already have a trading name, it’s time to register it with the state of Arkansas.

Registering a trading name costs $35 and takes about two weeks if you fill out all of the required information correctly. You’ll need:

  • A completed application form — can be found online or at your local county clerk’s office
  • Proof of good faith intent — includes things like business cards and stationary that have been printed with your business’s new name

File Articles of Incorporation

You will need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office. The Secretary of State’s office will provide instructions on how to file your Articles of Incorporation with them.

The required information for an Articles of Incorporation includes:

  • The name of your corporation or LLC
  • A registered agent who has agreed to accept legal documents on behalf of your company (usually this will be an employee or lawyer)
  • The registered address for your business

File a Certificate of Formation

A certificate of formation is a document that describes the partnership, its partners, and its purpose. It must be filed with the secretary of state’s office before your business can start operations. The Arkansas Secretary of State’s website provides information on how to file this certificate online or by mail.

File an Assumed Name Certificate

If you are starting a business and will be doing business under a name other than your legal name, you must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the Arkansas Secretary of State. This is done when the owner(s) want to use a different name than their legal name for conducting business. Businesses that operate under an assumed name are required to provide truthful information about who they are and what type of business they’re running when doing any type of advertising for their company.

An Assumed Name Certificate will cost $50, but this fee does include one certified copy of your document if needed (more copies are available at additional cost). There are no additional fees if you have more than one owner; however, each owner must sign the application form and submit it along with proof of identification.

You’ll also need:

  • A copy of your federal tax return;
  • A copy of your business license or certificate filed before December 31st in order to show that there is no conflict between names; and
  • Proof that all owners meet legal requirements as outlined above

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You should obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS to be able to open a business bank account and file your taxes. An EIN is a nine-digit number that is assigned by the IRS, which you will use as your tax identification number. It’s similar to a social security number but different in that it’s specific for businesses and corporations.

If you plan on hiring anyone or having employees at all, even if only part-time or seasonal, this step is necessary for registering with the state Department of Labor (DOL). You’ll need both the DOL and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms W-8BEN/W8ECI and EIN respectively when applying for one.

Business Licenses or Permits

If you’re starting a business in Arkansas, the first thing to check is whether or not you need any licenses or permits. Every state has different requirements for setting up a company, and the same goes for local governments. You’ll need to make sure that your proposed business structure conforms with local zoning laws and other regulations before opening your doors. The following are some of the most common licenses that new entrepreneurs need:

  • Business License
  • Health Permit
  • Zoning Permit
  • Fire Permit (if selling flammable materials)
  • Food Service permit (if serving food)


All of these steps can be done quickly and easily by an attorney. If you don’t want to spend money on an attorney, you can use an online service to help you with the process. You should also check with your local government to see if there are any other requirements that need to be completed before opening up shop.

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