Establish a Business in Delaware

This article share's some overview on why & How to starting your first business in Delaware.

Updated on
Jan 24, 2024
min read
Starting a Company
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Advantages of Establishing a Business in Delaware

How has a state with a population of just one million managed to become a magnet for entrepreneurs seeking to establish their businesses? Two key factors come into play. Firstly, Delaware boasts corporate regulations that remain consistently up-to-date, aligning seamlessly with the ever-evolving business landscape. This adaptability assures business owners that the state is keeping pace with the changing dynamics of commerce.

Secondly, Delaware is home to a unique legal institution dedicated solely to resolving business disputes – the Court of Chancery.). This specialized court expedites decisions on corporate legal matters, dispensing with the need for jury involvement. Businesses encountering legal issues in Delaware can rely on swift judgments delivered by judges well-versed in corporate law.

Furthermore, Delaware nurtures thriving industries in agriculture, food services, tourism, healthcare, and provides fertile ground for securing funding. The state offers refundable tax credits for private investments exceeding $10,000.

Diverse Business Structures in Delaware

Delaware offers a range of options for structuring your business entity, each with its own implications for taxes and operational dynamics. Some business structures offer operational flexibility, while others provide protection against personal liability. Here are the various business structures available in Delaware:

  1. Delaware Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  2. Delaware Professional Corporation
  3. Delaware Corporation
  4. Delaware Nonprofit Corporation

Commencing Your Business in Delaware

Delaware has established over 300 programs to support entrepreneurs and small business owners. Despite the state's assistance, launching your Delaware-based business requires time, meticulous planning, and financial investment.

The checklist below will guide you in refining your business concept, estimating initial expenses, and understanding the essential legal documentation. We are here to assist you in reaching the day when your business takes its first steps.


Step 1: Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan

A robust business plan serves as the foundation of your enterprise. While business planning may seem daunting, it need not be. Crafting a business plan involves articulating key elements such as:

  • The nature of your business
  • The specific problems your business solves for customers
  • Your unique value proposition in the market
  • Strategies to distinguish your business in a competitive landscape
  • Identification of your target audience and methods to attract them
  • Financial provisions until your business attains profitability
  • Key performance indicators and strategic objectives
  • Your marketing strategies
  • Short-term and long-term growth vision

A well-structured business plan is instrumental in persuading potential investors and business partners to take your idea seriously.

Small Business Financial Support in Delaware

The state government extends incentives and tax credits to attract new businesses. For instance, the Encouraging Development, Growth & Expansion (EDGE) Grants provide up to $50,000 to emerging Delaware small businesses. In cases where traditional bank loans may not be accessible, alternative options like the State Small Business Credit Initiative Participation Loan or the Delaware Capital Access Program can be explored. Other potential programs include:

  • Business incentives offered by the city of Wilmington
  • Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Brownfield Redevelopment Program
  • Blue Collar Job Act

Step 2: Select an Appropriate Business Structure

Delaware offers the flexibility to choose from various business structures, including sole proprietorship, general partnership (GP), limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.

  • Sole Proprietorship in Delaware: Although simpler to establish, this structure does not provide a legal separation between you and your business, potentially exposing personal assets to business liabilities.
  • Delaware Corporations: Corporations in Delaware are favored due to favorable regulations, albeit at a higher setup cost. The choice between an S or C corporation depends on your circumstances, with S corporations offering tax advantages but having more eligibility criteria.
  • Delaware LLCs: LLCs combine elements of both corporations and sole proprietorships, providing legal separation between business and personal assets, shielding personal property from business-related issues. Moreover, LLCs avoid double taxation, a concern for C corporations.

A Delaware LLC can have one or multiple members.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Business Expenses

Incorporating all potential costs into your business plan enables better financial preparation, budgeting, and expenditure management. Some typical expenses to consider include:

  • Costs related to entity formation
  • Fees for leasing or purchasing office space
  • Expenditures on office supplies or inventory
  • Costs associated with payroll, contractor payments, and payroll taxes
  • Investment in website design, development, hosting, and maintenance
  • Procurement of technical equipment like phones, tablets, and computers
  • Consideration of business insurance

Tax obligations owed by your business also warrant careful consideration. Corporations in Delaware are subject to annual taxes, including the Corporate Annual Report. Franchise tax payments for corporations vary from $175 to $200,000. If these taxes exceed $5,000, quarterly payments can be made as follows:

  • 40% due by June 1
  • 20% due by September 1
  • 20% due by December 1
  • Remainder due by March 1

Failure to file the annual report by March 1 results in a $200 penalty.

Conversely, Delaware-based LLCs are not obligated to submit an annual report but are subject to a $300 annual tax, due each year by June 1.

Step 4: Choose a Business Name

The name you select for your business carries significant weight. It can convey information about your business's location, services, brand values, or message. However, before finalizing your name and registering a domain or printing business cards, certain prerequisites must be met.

Businesses in Delaware must possess unique names, as sharing a name with other businesses can cause confusion among customers and legal complications. Therefore, before committing to a name, perform a Delaware Business Name Search to confirm its availability and absence of any active businesses with the same name.

Alternatively, you may choose to operate various businesses under distinct names. To achieve this, you'll need to apply for a "doing business as" (DBA) name. Sole proprietors and general partnerships, in particular, may find DBA names particularly beneficial as, without one, they must operate under the owner's legal name.

Once you've identified an available name, investigate the availability of related domain names and social media handles to commence leveraging your business name effectively.

Step 5: Register Your Business, Acquire Insurance, and Establish Financial Accounts

Entities such as LLCs and corporations must register with Delaware's Division of Corporations. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships may bypass this step but might need to register their business name with the Prothonotary Office in their chosen county of operation.

  • Apply for Licenses and Fulfill Tax Obligations: Determine the requisite business licenses, registrations, and tax obligations for your business. Additionally, city and county regulations may impose additional licensing, zoning, taxation, and permitting requirements.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN):

Sole proprietors may use their Social Security Number as their taxpayer ID, while other entity types must obtain an EIN from the IRS.

  • Secure Business Insurance: Discuss your business insurance needs with a local agent. Simultaneously, open business bank accounts such as checking and credit accounts to manage income and expenditures effectively.

Step 6: Promote Your Delaware-Based Business

Marketing serves as your channel to inform potential customers about your offerings and convince them to choose your business over competitors.

A well-designed company website is an indispensable component of marketing, providing a platform to showcase your business, convey your narrative, and facilitate customer interaction.

Online directories, including Yelp and Google My Business, enhance your business's visibility. Optimize these listings along with your website to increase the likelihood of potential customers discovering your business during online searches.

Additionally, advertising remains a potent tool for brand promotion. Print media, regional radio broadcasts, and television ads all contribute to spreading the word about your company.

Innovative Business Ideas for Delaware

Delaware's diverse business landscape accommodates a multitude of traditional, contemporary, and trending business concepts. Here are some inspirational ideas:

  • Financial Services
  • Design-Build Architecture and Construction
  • Digital Marketing
  • Residential or Commercial Cleaning/Janitorial Services
  • CBD Dispensary
  • Food Truck

Delaware: The Ideal Launchpad for Your Business

From quaint family-run enterprises to corporate giants, Delaware prides itself on fostering a business-friendly environment. With potentially advantageous tax structures, a plethora of entity options, and a well-thought-out business strategy, Delaware offers an ideal canvas for constructing a thriving and profitable business of your own.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. Seek the counsel of a licensed professional for specific questions related to these topics.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Delaware a business-friendly state?
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Delaware consistently garners acclaim for its business-friendly environment, attributed to its tax policies, regulatory framework, and other favorable factors.

What is a favorable city to commence a business in Delaware?
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Based on factors such as tax burden, high-speed internet access, per capita income, and average commute time, Wilmington ranks among the top 20 best small cities for initiating a small business.

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