Small business licenses include:
- Local council licenses to start a business and
- Business specific licenses that might be given by state or federal governments.
Business license requirements are not uniform, and vary from local body to local body and from state to state. Licensing requirements also vary from industry to industry.
The Essential Small Business Licenses
The basic licenses you would need in practically all cases are:
- Registration of business name: If you do business under a name that is not your own, Trade Name Registration Act requires you to register your business name. The Act is implemented by state or local government.
- License from City or County office: Your local city or county concil might require that you obain a license for doing business in an area under their jurisdiction.
- Sales Tax Number: If you are selling anything, you would have to pay sales tax, and state governments require that you obtain a sales tax number before you start business.
- TaxID numbers: You have to pay tax on your earnings and deduct tax from wages you pay to your employees. The federal Internal Revenue Service requires that businesses obtain Tax ID and Employer ID numbers.
If you occupy a building for your new business, you would have to get a Certificate of Occupancy from the city or county zoning office before your small business start. You would also have to comply with zoning regulations while setting up your business.
Depending on the industry you plan to start, you might also have to obtain small business licenses from different government departments. For example, industries that discharge pollutants would have to get environment compliance clearances.
Incorporation Of Your Small Business
You could do business in different organizational forms – as a sole proprietor, in partnership with others or as a corporation. A corporation would need a Certificate of Incorporation. This would have to be obtained before starting your business.
Finding Out About Small Business Licenses
How do you find out what licenses you need? One comprehensive source for small business licenses information is the Business Laws Web site . The Business Laws Web site is also a dependable source for US Government Regulations for Business, a topic discussed separately.
Doing Business Without License
Finding out about applicable small business licenses and then attending to all the formalities of complying with them is a great bother. Trying to avoid this bother is NOT WORTHWHILE. Doing business without required licenses could land you in far more trouble compared to the ones you escape at the beginning.
On the other hand, if you go to the Business Laws Web site mentioned above, or to the local city office, you should be able to get full details about applicable small business licenses with a little effort.
Another good source for assistance is the government small business support agency nearest to you. They might not only provide small business licenses information but also help you obtain these.