Startup Costs of Setting Up a Small Business

Starting a small business is an exciting venture, but it comes with a variety of costs that aspiring entrepreneurs need to consider. Understanding these costs upfront is crucial for developing a realistic business plan and ensuring long-term sustainability. Below, we delve into the various expenses associated with starting a small business, breaking them down into one-time startup costs and ongoing operational expenses. Additionally, there are costs that vary by state.  

Non-State Specific Costs

State Specific Costs

Non-State Specific Small Business Costs

Registered Agent

A registered agent, also known as a statutory agent or agent for service of process, is a designated individual or business entity responsible for receiving legal documents and official government correspondence on behalf of a company. This role is crucial for ensuring that a company remains compliant with state regulations and can be reliably contacted for legal matters.

Why You Need a Registered Agent When Starting a Company

  • Legal Requirement
    In most states, having a registered agent is a legal requirement for forming a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or other business entities. The registered agent’s name and address must be included in the formation documents filed with the state.
  • Receiving Legal Documents
    The registered agent is responsible for receiving important legal documents, such as service of process for lawsuits, subpoenas, and summonses. Having a reliable registered agent ensures that these documents are received promptly and that the company can respond in a timely manner.
  • Compliance and Correspondence
    The registered agent also receives official government correspondence, such as tax notices, annual report forms, and other compliance-related documents. This helps ensure that the company stays informed about and complies with ongoing state requirements.
  • Maintaining Privacy
    Using a registered agent can help protect the privacy of the business owners. Instead of having the owner’s personal address listed on public records, the registered agent’s address is used. This is particularly beneficial for home-based businesses or owners who prefer to keep their residential address private.
  • Availability During Business Hours
    A registered agent must be available during standard business hours to receive documents in person. This requirement ensures that there is always someone available to handle important documents, which might be challenging for small business owners who are frequently out of the office or busy with other tasks.

Costs of a Registered Agent

The cost of a registered agent can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the provider you choose, the services offered, and the state in which your business is registered. Here is a general breakdown of what you can expect:

Individual as Registered Agent

If you, a business partner, or an employee acts as the registered agent, there are no direct costs other than the time commitment and responsibility involved. However, this option might not be feasible for all business owners due to availability and privacy concerns.

Professional Registered Agent Service

Professional registered agent services charge an annual fee. Here are typical costs:

Basic Services
  • Annual Fee: $50 to $300
  • Services Included: Receiving and forwarding legal documents, compliance notifications, and maintaining a physical address in the state of incorporation.
Additional Services

Some registered agent services offer additional features for higher fees:

  • Mail Forwarding: Beyond legal documents, some services will forward all types of mail. This might cost an additional $50 to $100 per year.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Some agents provide tools and alerts to help you stay compliant with state requirements, which can add $50 to $200 annually.
  • Document Storage: Secure storage and access to important documents online may cost an additional $50 to $150 per year.

Ongoing Costs

Mailing Address

Using your home address as your business mailing address is a cost-effective option, especially for home-based businesses. However, we highly recommend getting a private mailbox or virtual office for privacy considerations.

The cost of obtaining a mailing address for your business can range from as low as $10 per month for a basic PO Box to $200 per month for a comprehensive virtual office service. Some registered agents also offer a buiness mailing address as part of their package.

Consider your business needs, such as whether you need a prestigious address, mail forwarding, or additional office services, to choose the most suitable and cost-effective option for your business.

Here are the primary options and their associated costs:

monthly COST
P.O. Box (USPS)
$10 - 30
Secure mail receiving and storage at a USPS location. Some locations offer 24/7 access.
Private Mailbox Services (The UPS Store, Mailboxes Etc)
$10 - 50
Business mailing address, mail and package receiving, and sometimes mail forwarding. These services often provide a more professional street address compared to a PO Box.
Virtual Office
$50 - 200
Professional business address, mail receiving and forwarding, access to meeting rooms, and sometimes additional services like call answering and receptionist services.
Coworking Spaces
$50 - $150
Standard registered agent services with additional compliance management tools available.