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First Steps in TN Business Formation: A Guide for Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is an exhilarating journey filled with anticipation, creativity, and challenges. As you embark on this venture, laying a solid foundation to ensure your business thrives is crucial. The McBrien Armistead Law Group presents this essential guide to the first steps in business formation, designed to navigate the complexities of establishing your business. From selecting the right business structure to understanding the basics of business law, we’ve got you covered.

Understanding Business Law

Business law encompasses the rules, statutes, codes, and regulations governing a business’s formation, operation, and dissolution. These laws provide a framework for managing business entities, ensuring fair practices, and protecting the interests of business owners, employees, consumers, and the community. Understanding these laws is paramount for every entrepreneur, as it influences decisions regarding business structure, contracts, employment, taxes, and compliance with government regulations.

Choosing Your Business Structure

One of the first and most critical decisions in forming a business is selecting the appropriate business structure. This choice impacts your personal liability, tax obligations, and the ability to raise capital. Here’s an overview of the common types of business entities:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business, with no legal distinction between the business and the owner. It allows for complete control but also means the owner is personally liable for all debts and obligations of the business.


Partnerships come in several forms, including general partnerships (GP) and limited partnerships (LP). In a GP, all partners share in the profits, liabilities, and management of the business. An LP has one or more general partners who manage the business and are personally liable, along with one or more limited partners whose liability is limited to their investment in the partnership.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership. Owners, known as members, are protected from personal liability for the business’s debts and obligations, similar to shareholders in a corporation.


A corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, providing them with limited liability protection. It can raise capital through stock sale and is subject to corporate income taxes. Corporations with differing tax implications can be classified as C corporations or S corporations.

Key Considerations in Selecting a Business Structure

  • Personal Assets Protection: Consider how much personal liability you can assume. Structures like LLCs and corporations offer protection for your personal assets.
  • Tax Implications: Different structures have distinct tax treatments. Understand how federal income taxes will apply to your business entity.
  • Operational Flexibility: Some entities offer more management and profit distribution flexibility. Consider what will work best for your business’s nature.
  • Future Needs: Think about your long-term goals for growth and funding. Specific structures are better suited for expansion and attracting investors.

Essential Steps in Business Formation

  • Develop a Business Plan: Outline your business idea, market analysis, operational strategy, and financial projections.
  • Choose a Business Name: Select a name that reflects your brand and complies with state guidelines.
  • Register Your Business: File the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State to legally establish your business.
  • Obtain Licenses and Permits: Research and secure the required licenses and permits to operate your business lawfully.
  • Apply for an EIN: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes.
  • Open a Business Bank Account: Keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a dedicated bank account.
  • Understand Your Tax Obligations: Familiarize yourself with the tax requirements for your chosen business structure.
  • Comply with Employment Laws: If you plan to hire employees, ensure you comply with state and federal employment laws.


Choosing the right business structure and understanding the fundamentals of business law are critical steps in setting up your venture for success. Each type of business entity offers unique advantages and considerations, from personal liability protection to tax benefits and operational flexibility. By carefully weighing these factors, you can select the structure that best aligns with your business goals and legal requirements.

As you navigate the exciting path of entrepreneurship, remember that the McBrien Armistead Law Group is here to support you every step of the way. Our experience in business formation and law provides peace of mind that your venture is built on a strong legal foundation, ready to face the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for personalized advice and assistance with your business formation needs. Together, we’ll turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

Thank you for reading!