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How to Start a New Business in Rhode Island

Reviewed by Ty Crandall

November 15, 2023
New Business In Rhode Island Credit Suite

Starting a Business in Rhode Island

A new business in Rhode Island is not out of reach. So have you been wondering: how do I start a business in Rhode Island? And more importantly, can I do so no matter what the economic conditions are? Can I start a new business in Rhode Island during a recession?

New Business in Rhode Island: Advantages and Disadvantages

Business Insider puts Rhode Island in its middle ten states for starting a new business, per a 2016 article. This is for the whole country. There are few startup companies in Rhode Island. But opportunity is high.

This small state is also close to Connecticut and Massachusetts. Therefore, it can easily draw highly educated employees from either neighboring state.

Rhode Island has a high ranking for key economic indicators like economic output per job, productivity growth, and high tech share of all businesses. The state also has an extremely educated and tech-savvy workforce.

Recent Declines

In 2018, Forbes names Rhode Island to its number 43 slot. In 2022, CNBC agrees, saying that Rhode Island belongs in the number 43 spot. Of course keep in mind the three sites all have differing methodologies, and were prepared in different years

Forbes says Rhode Island has a better than average quality of life. But for all of the other metrics, it’s worse than the average.

CNBC really only gives Rhode Island one decent grade—a 16 for life, health, and inclusion. And Rhode Island stumbles into the 40s in four other areas: infrastructure, cost of doing business, economy, and cost of living.

In fact, for cost of living, Rhode Island doesn’t rank much better than neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts, both of which rank better according to CNBC.

Only you can decide if it’s worth it to start a business in Rhode Island.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Top Industries in Rhode Island

While the high tech sector in Rhode Island is one of the state’s brighter spots, manufacturing is increasingly gaining strength there. This is as a result of the state’s commitment to supporting its continued development. Rhode Island also has taken solid steps to specifically help small businesses.

New Business in Rhode Island: Initiatives

These include launching an initiative to support job creation in the small business sector. It also includes putting strong support behind a program meant to increase credit accessibility for small startup businesses.

Rhode Island Business Ideas

Smart business owners can find new opportunities. Work with bigger industries in the state. Offer goods or services such as trucking for any industry and computer support.

Here is exactly how to start a new business in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island New Business Secretary of State Requirements

Register a Business Name

Check business name availability on the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

Business Permits and Licenses

A list of professional licenses is on the State of Rhode Island webpage. A list is also on the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.


Corporation names must be unique. Do an extensive search to find out a name is available.

Start by searching online records and other archives and catalogs such as the database of registered Rhode Island corporations. It is available at the official Rhode Island government website.

Corporate Name Reservations

If business owners want to reserve a corporate name, they will need to submit a name reservation application to the office of the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

Download this application form at Reserve a Rhode Island Corporate Name on the Rhode Island Secretary of State website. There is a fee of $50.00 to reserve a name and then the name remains reserved for 120 days.

Local Permits and Licenses

Check with your local municipality, city or county office or website. See if there may be any local licensing or permit requirements.

For example, in Providence, go to the Board of Licenses page on the city of Providence website.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Business Registration

Be sure to visit the Rhode Island Department of State online business portal. It will guide you through the steps and forms that you will need.

Tax Registration

So go to the Business Registration page of the Division of Taxation.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Virtual Offices

Alliance Virtual Offices offers Rhode Island virtual business office space in Providence and Warwick only. However, the state is so small that these cities should fit most if not all business owners’ purposes.

For other areas of the state, if a business owner absolutely cannot travel, they can try Regus. Note: virtually all of Rhode Island is within a one hour drive of every other part of Rhode Island.

Or ask local business owners. Also, try computer user groups for help in this area. More options may be virtual business office space in neighboring states. These are Connecticut and also Massachusetts, but be aware that a business is more fundable if its main office is in the office where it’s incorporated.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Establish Business Credit

Small business credit is credit in a business’s name. It doesn’t link to an entrepreneur’s individual credit, not even if the owner is a sole proprietor and the sole employee of the small business.

As such, an entrepreneur’s business and consumer credit scores can be very different.

The Benefits

Because business credit is distinct from personal, it helps to secure a small business owner’s personal assets, in case of court action or business bankruptcy.

Also, with two distinct credit scores, a business owner can get two different cards from the same vendor. This effectively doubles buying power.

Another benefit is that even new ventures can do this. Visiting a bank for a business loan can be a recipe for frustration. But building company credit, when done properly, is a plan for success.

Individual credit scores depend upon payments but also additional considerations like credit use percentages.

But for company credit, the scores really only depend on whether a business pays its invoices timely.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

The Process

Growing business credit is a process, and it does not occur without effort. A small business needs to actively work to build business credit.

However, it can be done readily and quickly, and it is much more rapid than developing individual credit scores.

Vendors are a big aspect of this process.

Accomplishing the steps out of order will lead to repetitive denials. No one can start at the top with business credit.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Company Fundability™

A small business must be Fundable to credit issuers and merchants.

Hence, a small business will need a professional-looking website and e-mail address. And it needs to have website hosting from a company such as GoDaddy.

Additionally, the business telephone number should be toll-free (800 exchange or the equivalent).

A company will also need a bank account dedicated solely to it, and it needs to have all of the licenses essential for operation.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

Working with the IRS

Visit the IRS web site and get an EIN for the company. They’re free of charge. Select a business entity such as corporation, LLC, etc.

A business can begin as a sole proprietor. But they will most likely want to switch to a form of corporation or an LLC.

This is in order to diminish risk. And it will make the most of tax benefits.

A business entity will matter when it involves tax obligations and liability in the event of a lawsuit. A sole proprietorship means the business owner is it when it comes to liability and tax obligations. Nobody else is responsible. And never look at a DBA filing as being anything more than a steppingstone to incorporation.

Starting Off the Business Credit Reporting Process

Begin at the D&B website and get a free D-U-N-S number. A D-U-N-S number is how D&B gets a small business in their system, to produce a PAYDEX score. If there is no D-U-N-S number, then there is no record and no PAYDEX score.

Once in D&B’s system, search Equifax and Experian’s websites for the small business. You can do this at www.creditsuite.com/reports. If there is a record with them, check it for correctness and completeness. If there are no records with them, go to the next step in the process.

By doing so, Experian and Equifax will have activity to report on.

Vendor Credit

First you should build trade lines that report. This is also known as vendor credit. Then you’ll have an established credit profile, and you’ll get a business credit score.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island Credit Suite

And with an established business credit profile and score you can start to get retail and cash credit.

These varieties of accounts tend to be for the things bought all the time. Like marketing materials, shipping boxes, outdoor work wear, and office furniture.

But first off, what is trade credit? These trade lines are credit issuers who will give you preliminary credit when you have none now. Terms are generally Net 30, versus revolving.

Hence, if you get approval for $1,000 in vendor credit and use all of it, you will need to pay that money back in a set term, such as within 30 days on a Net 30 account.

Vendor Credit – It Makes Sense

Not every vendor can help like true starter credit can. These are vendors that will grant an approval with negligible effort. You also want them to be reporting to one or more of the big three CRAs: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.

You want 3 of these to move onto the next step.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – Monitor Your Business Credit

Know what is happening with your credit. Make certain it is being reported and attend to any mistakes as soon as possible. Get in the practice of checking credit reports. Dig into the details, not just the scores.

We can help you keep track of your business credit at major CRAs for considerably less.

Update Your Information

Update the information if there are mistakes or the details is incomplete.

Fix Your Business Credit

So, what’s all this monitoring for? It’s to dispute any errors in your records. Errors in your credit report(s) can be taken care of. But the CRAs usually want you to dispute in a particular way.


Disputing credit report mistakes usually means you specifically spell out any charges you challenge.

Start a New Business in Rhode Island – A Word about Business Credit Building

Always use credit smartly! Never borrow beyond what you can pay back. Monitor balances and deadlines for repayments. Paying on time and completely will do more to boost business credit scores than almost anything else.

Building company credit pays off. Good business credit scores help a small business get loans. Your loan provider knows the small business can pay its financial obligations. They know the company is authentic.

The company’s EIN connects to high scores and loan providers won’t feel the need to ask for a personal guarantee.

Business credit is an asset which can help your small business for years to come.

Learn more here and get started toward opening a new business in Rhode Island.

Want to start a new business someplace else in America? Then check out our handy guide to starting a business in any state in the country.

Rhode Island’s Response to COVID-19

The SBA announced it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.

For businesses, municipalities, K-12 and other entities, Microsoft is providing six months of Office 365 tools for free to enable remote collaboration, file sharing and video conferencing. They’re also offering free assistance to set up these tools.

About the author 

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Janet Gershen-Siegel is the seasoned Finance Writer and a former content manager at Credit Suite. She has been admitted to practice law for over 30 years, with a focus on litigation and product liability, and is a published author, with writing credits at Entrepreneur, FedSmith.com and BusinessingMag.com.

She has a BA in Philosophy from Boston University, a JD from the Delaware Law School of Widener University, and a MS in Interactive Media (Social Media) from Quinnipiac University.

She regularly writes for Credit Suite, which helps businesses improve Fundability™, build credit, and get approved for loans and credit lines.

Her specialties: business credit, business credit cards, business funding, crowdfunding, and law

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