Starting a Business in New Hampshire – A Comprehensive Guide

How to Start a Business in New Hampshire

If you have a business idea and consider New Hampshire your launch pad, you’re in the right place. This blog post will serve as a valuable resource, providing key insights and practical advice on starting a business in the Granite State. We’ll cover everything from the benefits and challenges to the regulatory landscape and local resources available for entrepreneurs.


Scenic view of summer in New Hampshire in support of how to start a business articleTop Two Benefits of Starting a Business in New Hampshire

  1. Favorable Business Climate:
    New Hampshire is known for its business-friendly environment. The state has no sales tax and offers competitive corporate tax rates, making it attractive for startups and established businesses.
  2. Quality of Life:
    New Hampshire consistently ranks high in quality of life. Its beautiful landscapes, excellent schools, and safe communities make it a great place to do business, live, and raise a family.


Top Two Challenges When Starting a Business in New Hampshire

  1. Limited Market Size:
    While New Hampshire has many advantages, its relatively small population can present a challenge. Businesses that rely heavily on local customers may find market size a limiting factor.
  2. Workforce Availability:
    Despite its educated workforce, some industries may need help finding enough skilled workers due to the state’s low unemployment rate.

Remember, every state has its unique blend of opportunities and challenges. In New Hampshire, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, with a growing number of businesses being launched each year. As of 2022, small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in the state, employing over half of the state’s workforce. This blog will help you navigate the path to joining them.

Regulatory Factors and Taxes in New Hampshire

Understanding the regulatory factors and tax environment is crucial when starting a business in any state, and New Hampshire is no exception. One of the most attractive aspects of doing business in New Hampshire is the absence of a general sales tax. This means businesses do not have to collect and remit sales tax on goods sold within the state, which can simplify operations and potentially increase competitiveness.

However, it’s important to note that New Hampshire does impose a Business Profits Tax (BPT) on income derived from conducting business within the state. As of 2023, the BPT rate is 7.7% on profits over $50,000. A Business Enterprise Tax (BET) is also levied on the enterprise value tax base, essentially the sum of all compensation paid or accrued, interest paid or accrued, and dividends paid. The BET rate is 0.6% as of 2023.

Additionally, New Hampshire imposes a 9% Meals and Rooms (Rentals) Tax on rentals of rooms, motor vehicles, and meals costing more than 36 cents. While this tax may not impact all businesses, those in the hospitality sector should certainly factor it into their planning.

In summary, while New Hampshire’s tax environment is generally favorable, prospective business owners must understand the specific taxes that may apply to their operations. Consulting with a tax professional is recommended to ensure full compliance with all state and local tax laws.

How do I Choose a Business Structure?

There are five primary types of businesses. Each type of business entity is described below.

Sole Proprietorship

A business owned and operated by one individual with no legal distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. Most small business owners in  New Hampshire use this business type.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A flexible business organization that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. Owners of an LLC are called members, and their assets are typically protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. You have the flexibility to define many aspects of how your business will work in your Articles of Organization.

S-Corporations

A type of corporation allows for pass-through taxation, meaning that profits and losses are passed through to the shareholders and reported on their tax returns. S-Corporations are limited to 100 shareholders and must meet specific eligibility requirements. An S-Corp can be particularly advantageous if the founders or investors have other income. If the business doesn’t generate a profit in any year, the shareholders can use the losses from a tax perspective.

C-Corporations

A separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) means that the corporation can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued. C-Corporations are subject to double taxation, meaning that the corporation and the shareholders are taxed on profits.

A Note About S-Corps and C-Corps

For both S-Corporations and C-Corporations, your business formation documents will include Articles of Incorporation, sometimes called a Corporate Charter.  The specific requirements and format of Articles of Incorporation can vary by jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with a business attorney or online legal service such as Legal Zoom to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations when drafting and filing these documents.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership that limits the personal liability of its partners. LLPs are typically used by professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, and architects. Each partner is protected from the other partners’ wrongful acts, omissions, and negligence, but they may still be personally liable for their actions.

Distribution of Businesses

Business Type Percent of Businesses in  New Hampshire
Sole Proprietorship 55-60%
Limited Liability Company (LLC) 20-25%
S-Corporation 10-15%
C-Corporation 3-5%
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) 1-2%

The percentages can change each year, depending on the industry and location. Moreover, the data also covers businesses registered in states other than New Hampshire but within the state.

What is an Employer Identification Number – EIN?

Definition of an EIN or Employer Identification Number

An Employer Identification Number, often abbreviated as EIN, is a unique nine-digit identifier the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses in the United States. This number simplifies business tax administration and is referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.

Do I Need One to Start a Business in New Hampshire?

You’ll need an EIN to launch a business in New Hampshire. This identifier is essential when establishing a business entity, hiring employees, obtaining licenses, or setting up a business bank account.

How Do I Get One?

Obtaining an EIN is a simple and easy process. You can apply for it directly on the IRS website, which is the fastest way to receive the number right after completing the application. Another option is to submit Form SS-4 to the IRS through mail or fax. If you need additional help or want to know more, you can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or visit their website at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers

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How to Start a Business in New Hampshire – Important Registrations

State capitol of New Hampshire - register when starting a businessRegistering My Business Name

The first step in launching your business in New Hampshire is officially registering your business name with the Secretary of State’s office. You can reach them at (603) 271-3242 or visit their website at https://sos.nh.gov/

Registering a DBA (Doing Business As) If Relevant

If you operate a business under a name that is not its registered name, you must register a DBA (Doing Business As) with the Secretary of State’s office. New Hampshire has ten counties, each with local government services and regulations.

You can find a comprehensive directory of New Hampshire’s local governments on this website:https://www.nh.gov/

. It provides contact information for each county, which can assist businesses in understanding local rules or requirements.

Registering for Payroll, State Payroll Taxes, and Unemployment Insurance

You must establish an account with the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security for New Hampshire’s payroll taxes and unemployment insurance. Visit their website at https://www.nhes.nh.gov/ or contact them at (603) 224-3311.

Registering for Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Businesses in New Hampshire also require worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance can be obtained from a licensed provider. If you use a payroll service, they should also be able to provide worker’s comp.

Registering for Collecting Sales Tax

As New Hampshire does not have a sales tax, businesses do not need to register for this. However, companies should be aware of the Meals and Rooms (Rentals) Tax if it applies to their operations.

Registering for Business Profits Tax

For corporate income state tax, businesses in New Hampshire should register through the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. You can contact them at (603) 230-5000 or visit their website at 
https://www.revenue.nh.gov/
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Registering to Pay Property Tax

If you need to pay property tax in New Hampshire, contact the assessor’s office in your local county. For more information, visit the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration website:https://www.revenue.nh.gov/

Permits for Starting a Business in New Hampshire

Do I Need a Business Permit to Operate a Business in  New Hampshire?


At the State Level:


In New Hampshire, the need for a business permit depends on the nature of your business. Some businesses, such as those in the food service, health, and education sectors, may require state-level permits or licenses. The New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs is a good starting point for understanding state-level requirements. You can reach them at (603) 271-2591 or visit their website at 
https://www.nheconomy.com/

.Check With Your City:


City-level business permits or licenses may also be required, depending on your business and location. It’s important to check with your local city clerk’s office or city hall for specific information. For example, if you’re in Manchester, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (603) 624-6455 or visit their website at 
https://www.manchesternh.gov/Departments/City-Clerk

.Check With The Federal Government:

At the federal level, certain types of businesses, such as those involved in broadcasting, aviation, or interstate commerce, may require federal licenses or permits. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources for understanding federal licensing requirements. You can reach them at (800) 827-5722 or visit their website at 
https://www.sba.gov/

.Check With Your County:


County-level permits are less common in New Hampshire, but it’s always a good idea to check. You can contact your county government’s office for information. For example, if you’re in Rockingham County, contact the County Commissioner’s Office at (603) 679-9350 or visit their website at 
https://www.rockinghamcountynh.org/commissioners/

How do I learn about any special permits I need for my business? 

Understanding the specific permit requirements for your business can be complex, especially if your business involves regulated activities or industries. Here are some resources to help you navigate this process:

  • Industry Associations:
    Many industries have associations that provide resources and guidance on regulatory requirements, including permits and licenses. Joining these associations can provide valuable insights and assistance.
  • Legal and Business Advisors:
    Lawyers and business advisors can provide expert guidance tailored to your business and industry. They can help you understand all the regulatory requirements your business needs to meet.
  • Online Resources:
    Websites like Bizfilings and https://www.businesslicenses.com/ offer tools to help businesses understand their licensing requirements. These sites can provide a comprehensive overview of what’s needed for your business.

Remember, while these resources can provide valuable information, they should not replace legal advice. Always consult a legal professional to ensure your business fully complies with all relevant regulations.

Financing Options for Entrepreneurs in New Hampshire

Starting a business often requires capital, and while some entrepreneurs may consider using personal assets or credit cards, it’s important to explore all available financing options. This can help protect personal finances and provide more substantial funding for your business.

Financing a New Business

Securing credible funding sources is a critical step in launching a new business. Options can range from grants to investments from venture capitalists or angel investors. Each funding source has advantages and potential drawbacks, so it’s important to do thorough research to find the best fit for your business’s needs and goals.

SBA Loans and Microloans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers various loan programs to support small businesses. One such program is the microloan program, which provides small, short-term business loans. These loans can offer immediate access to funds, which can be particularly helpful for startups and small businesses with immediate financing needs. More information about SBA microloans can be found at https://smallbusinessplans.com/sba-microloans-for-small-businessess-and-startups/

SBA Microlenders in New Hampshire


Here are some SBA Microlenders that serve businesses in New Hampshire:

Community Loan Fund

Phone: (603)-224-6669
Website: https://www.communityloanfund.org/


Granite State Economic Development Corporation

Phone: (603)-494-8169
Website: https://granitestatedev.com/


New Hampshire Business Finance Authority

Phone: (603)-415-0190
Website: https://nhbfa.com/


Regional Economic Development Center 

Phone: (603)-772-2655
Website: https://www.redc.com/

State and Local Grants and Incentives

New Hampshire offers a variety of state and local grants and incentives that can help small businesses get started or expand their operations.

.New Hampshire Job Creation Fund

Website: https://www.nheconomy.com

Community Development Finance Authority

Website: https://nhcdfa.org/

Angel Investor Groups

Angel investors play a crucial role in the startup ecosystem. They are typically high-net-worth individuals who provide early-stage capital to startups in exchange for equity or convertible debt. But their contribution often extends beyond just financial support. They frequently bring a wealth of business experience, industry connections, and strategic knowledge, which can be invaluable for new businesses navigating growth challenges.

One of the key benefits of securing angel investment is the mentorship and guidance that angel investors can provide. They often take an active role in the businesses they invest in, offering strategic advice, providing industry insights, and helping to navigate business challenges. This mentorship can be particularly beneficial for first-time entrepreneurs or those operating in industries where the investors have prior experience. 

In New Hampshire, angel investor groups are not just funding sources; they are partners in growth. They provide a supportive environment where entrepreneurs can learn, grow, and succeed. Whether through funding, mentorship, or networking opportunities, these groups play a vital role in helping New Hampshire’s startups thrive. Learning about angel investors in New Hampshire involves a combination of research, networking, and active engagement in the local startup ecosystem.

Benefits of a Well-Structured Business Plan

A well-structured business plan is a crucial tool for any entrepreneur in New Hampshire. It serves as a roadmap, outlining your business’s goals and detailing your strategies to achieve them. A comprehensive business plan can help you anticipate challenges, identify opportunities, and navigate the unique business landscape of the Granite State.

One of the key benefits of a well-structured business plan is that it can help you secure funding. Whether you’re seeking a loan from a local bank, applying for state grants, or pitching to angel investors, a solid business plan demonstrates that you’ve done your homework. It shows potential investors that you understand your market, have a clear strategy for growth, and are prepared to tackle any challenges that may arise.

In New Hampshire, where small businesses make up a significant portion of the economy, a well-structured business plan can also help you stand out. It can help you identify your unique selling proposition, target your marketing efforts more effectively, and align your business with the needs and interests of New Hampshire consumers.

For a well-crafted business plan, businesses should seek professional advice. Local resources such as the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center offer business plan development assistance. Additionally, entrepreneurs should regularly review and update their business plans to reflect changes in the market or their business.

Meeting Lender and Investor Expectations

Meeting the expectations of lenders and investors is crucial for businesses seeking funding in New Hampshire. Lenders and investors want to see that you have a viable business model, a strong management team, and a clear path to profitability. They also want to know that you understand your market and have a solid plan for navigating potential challenges.

To satisfy the expectations of lenders and investors, it is crucial to provide a well-organized business plan that encompasses detailed financial projections. It is important to demonstrate that you have thoughtfully evaluated your sources of revenue, expenses, and cash flow. Additionally, showing that you have considered potential risks and devised strategies to address them is essential.

In addition to a strong business plan, businesses in New Hampshire can meet lender and investor expectations by demonstrating a solid understanding of the local market. This includes understanding the competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and the needs and preferences of New Hampshire consumers.

Remember, securing funding is often about building relationships. By demonstrating professionalism, preparedness, and a deep understanding of your business and market, you can build trust with lenders and investors and increase your chances of securing the funding you need.

Where Can I Find a Mentor to Help Me Succeed?

The value of mentorship for entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. It offers a wealth of advice, insights into the industry, and practical strategies that are specifically tailored to the business environment in New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire is home to a strong network of organizations and resources that are committed to promoting the success of its entrepreneurs. Here are several options that are worth considering:

New Hampshire SCORE:
As an affiliate of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), New Hampshire SCORE provides entrepreneurs with free business mentoring, cost-effective workshops, and a range of tools and resources to support businesses at all stages of their development. 

Website: https://www.score.org/nh-vt/

New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NHSBDC):
The NHSBDC offers various services, such as crafting a business plan and conducting financial analysis, making it a valuable resource for new and existing businesses. 

Phone: (603) 862-5221 

Website: https://www.nhsbdc.org/

Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) New Hampshire:
This specialized organization equips women entrepreneurs with practical business development training, personalized counseling, and opportunities to network and learn. 

Email: info.NH@CWEonline.org

Website: https://cweonline.org/About-CWE/CWE-New-Hampshire

New Hampshire Tech Alliance:
This organization provides resources, events, and programs to support tech entrepreneurs and startups in New Hampshire.

Phone: (603) 935-8951 

Website: https://nhtechalliance.org/

By taking advantage of these resources, entrepreneurs can acquire the essential knowledge and support they need to navigate the business environment in New Hampshire successfully.

The Economy of New Hampshire

New Hampshire business industries symbolized by railroad tracks in artistic photoUnderstanding the economy of New Hampshire is crucial when starting a business in the state. It provides insights into the financial capabilities, education level, and spending habits of the population, all of which can significantly impact the success of your business.

Economic Overview

Average Household Income

The median household income in New Hampshire is approximately $83,449, which is higher than the national average. This indicates a relatively affluent population, which could mean more consumer purchasing power. Businesses, particularly those in the retail and service sectors, could benefit from this higher disposable income.

Average Level of Education

Approximately 93% of the population aged 25 and over in New Hampshire had completed high school, and about 36% held a bachelor’s degree or higher. These figures suggest a well-educated population, which could translate into a skilled workforce for businesses and a consumer base that values quality products and services.

Consumer Spending per Capita

In New Hampshire, measured personal consumption expenditures (PCE) are $51,760. Consumer spending per capita is another important economic indicator. This could indicate a strong market for businesses, particularly those in the consumer goods and services sectors.

To summarize, knowing the economic factors in New Hampshire is crucial when beginning a business. These factors offer an overview of the economic environment and aid in making informed decisions regarding your business strategy. This includes determining your product or service offerings, pricing, and marketing strategies.

Top Industries in New Hampshire:

New Hampshire’s economy is diverse and robust, with several key industries driving its growth. One of the most significant sectors is manufacturing, which includes everything from machinery and electronic products to fabricated metal and plastic products. The state’s manufacturing sector is known for its high-tech and precision manufacturing capabilities, contributing significantly to its economic output.

Another major industry in New Hampshire is healthcare and social assistance. The state’s population is aging faster than the national average, leading to increased demand for healthcare services. This sector provides essential services and creates many jobs, contributing to the state’s economy.

The retail trade sector is also a major player in New Hampshire’s economy. The state’s favorable tax policies, including the lack of a general sales tax, attract shoppers from across the region, supporting a vibrant retail sector. This sector includes everything from large shopping malls to small independent retailers, all contributing to the state’s economic diversity.

Education is another key industry in New Hampshire, home to several renowned educational institutions, including Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire. These institutions contribute to the state’s economy through employment and spending and play a crucial role in research and innovation, driving economic growth in the state.

New Hampshire has promising emerging industries to look forward to. The technology sector, specifically software and IT services, is experiencing rapid growth due to the state’s skilled workforce and supportive business environment. The renewable energy sector is gaining momentum with increased wind, solar, and biomass energy investments.

New Hampshire’s diverse economy and favorable business environment provide a solid foundation for business growth and innovation. As the state continues to invest in emerging industries and capitalize on its strengths, the outlook for business in New Hampshire remains positive.

Networking when Starting a Business in New Hampshire

Networking is a skill that most successful business owners have as one of their top talents.  You can do it too!  Networking is a great way to improve your success and grow your personal and business reputation.  Here are a few ways to get started.

  1. Identify Complementary Businesses:
    In the business world, identifying and collaborating with complementary businesses can be a strategic move toward growth and expansion. Complementary companies offer products or services that align with yours but do not directly compete with you. For instance, a bakery might find a complementary business in a coffee shop. You can explore partnerships, cross-promotions, or joint ventures by identifying such firms in New Hampshire. These collaborations can help you reach a broader customer base, enhance your product or service offerings, and even share operational costs, leading to mutual growth and success.
  2. Leverage Workforce Talent:
    New Hampshire boasts a highly educated and skilled workforce, which businesses can leverage to drive innovation and growth. Tapping into this talent pool can give companies the expertise and creativity to develop new products, improve services, and streamline operations. Furthermore, investing in employee development and creating a positive work environment can help businesses in New Hampshire attract and retain top talent. A skilled and motivated workforce can be a significant competitive advantage, driving productivity and business success.
  3. Collaborate with Industry Leaders:
    Collaborating with industry leaders can provide businesses in New Hampshire with valuable insights, resources, and opportunities. Such collaborations can take various forms, from mentorship and networking to strategic partnerships. Industry leaders can offer guidance based on their experiences, provide access to their networks, and even open doors to new business opportunities. Collaborating with these leaders can help businesses stay abreast of industry trends, improve their strategies, and enhance their market position.

Workforce and Talent

Understanding the workforce and talent demographics in New Hampshire is crucial for any business planning to operate in the state. This information can help businesses identify the available skills in the labor market, plan their hiring strategies, and tailor their products or services to the local population.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate in New Hampshire is approximately 2.9%. This low unemployment rate indicates a strong economy and a competitive job market, which can influence businesses’ hiring strategies and wage offerings.

Minimum Wage

New Hampshire follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Businesses must consider this when planning their labor costs and pricing strategies.

Average Age and Demographics

The median age in New Hampshire is approximately 43 years, roughly 50.5% of the population being female and 49.5% male. These demographics can influence businesses in various ways. For instance, an older median age might indicate a market for products or services geared toward middle-aged and older adults. Gender distribution can also influence businesses, particularly those offering gender-specific products or services.

Breakdown of People with Various Levels of Education 

Focusing on the population aged 25 and above in New Hampshire, the education level is as follows:

  • 36% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 93% have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • 8% have no high school diploma.

In conclusion, understanding the workforce, talent, and demographic data in New Hampshire is essential for businesses. It provides insights into the labor market, consumer preferences, and the overall business environment, helping companies to make informed decisions and strategies.

Top Areas of Skilled Workers for Residents of New Hampshire

New Hampshire boasts a diverse pool of skilled workers across various sectors. Some of the top areas of skilled workers include manufacturing, healthcare, education, and technology.

In high-tech and precision manufacturing, skilled workers can find design, production, quality control, and management opportunities. The state’s strong manufacturing sector often requires skilled workers who can operate complex machinery, oversee production processes, and ensure the quality of the final products.

The healthcare sector in New Hampshire offers a wide range of opportunities for skilled workers, from doctors and nurses to technicians and healthcare administrators. Given the state’s aging population, there is a growing demand for healthcare services, creating opportunities for skilled healthcare professionals.

Opportunities abound for teachers, administrators, and support staff in the education sector. New Hampshire’s commitment to quality education means there are opportunities for skilled workers who can contribute to the state’s educational institutions’ success.

The technology sector, one of the fastest-growing sectors in New Hampshire, offers opportunities for software developers, IT specialists, and data analysts. As more businesses in the state embrace digital transformation, the demand for skilled tech workers will likely increase.

In conclusion, New Hampshire’s diverse economy provides many opportunities for skilled workers. Whether in manufacturing, healthcare, education, or technology, skilled workers can find rewarding careers that leverage their abilities and contribute to the state’s economic growth.

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