Starting a small business

1. Feel out the market. Do not assume that what will work back home will work abroad. 

2. Register your trademark/brand. You may need to contract a firm that specializes in this, or your lawyer can help you. 

3. If you are a small operation, start doing business informally to see if there is a market for the idea. If it works, incorporate. You will need a lawyer to do this. Consider incorporating as a business of a single owner or as a company with at least seven shareholders. The advantage to being a compańía por acciones/sociedad anónima is that you will not be personally liable for actions taken while doing business. 

4. Regardless of the size of your company, you will need to choose a lawyer to incorporate your company. This could take about a two months depending on the need to register the brand, company name. 

5. Hire an accountant. Regardless, of whether you keep your own books, you will need at least a part time accountant (on a retainer) to help you file for taxes. In the DR all companies regardless of whether you make a profit or not need to pay a minimum tax on gross sales. Your accountant can assist you with securing the company’s Registro Nacional de Contribuyentes, the tax registration number that you will need to include on all your billings. Your accountant can also double as a labor affairs consultant. 

6. Purchase a Labor Code and study it. Low cost of labor makes the DR attractive, but note that workers may be due about 40% in social benefits in addition to their wages. Labor laws in the DR differ considerably from those abroad. Strict adherence to the laws is recommended as labor issues are more frequently than not resolved in favor of the worker. 

7. Make many Dominican friends and talk about doing business in the DR. Networking is important when starting a business and more so while doing business. Don’t assume because you were successful back home, you know enough to be successful in the DR.