Making Sure Everything's in Order: What Permits Do You Need?
Starting any business requires you to complete a number of steps and make some key decisions. Though part of your overall plan, you?ll need to decide on a business structure, and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. In addition, determining which financing options will meet your short-term needs and long-term goals is crucial.
When you start a new business, it is important to note that you have to need certain licenses and permits from the government to stay legal. In the excitement of planning and opening a business, this is easily overlooked, but you don't want to be shut down for simply not filling out the correct paperwork. Staying legal is important to avoid business failure.
Depending on what type of business you want to run, your city may require certain business permits. You must make sure that your community is zoned for the type of business you wish to start. Residential areas are especially tight when it comes to business permits. Be sure before you do a lot of planning that the type of business you wish to run is possible in your neighborhood.
In starting a small business you should never think you can do it alone! One of the best ways to insulate yourself against business failure is to find and work with a mentor, someone with business experience who can guide and assist you.
The Small Business Administration also runs the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, which helps small businesses start, grow and compete in global markets by providing quality training, counseling and access to resources. The office offers a Network Of Training And Counseling Services.
When you have a building for your business, there are also specific codes you must meet in order to have your building in legal operating order. First, you need to contact your local fire department if you are using flammable materials or if your building will be open to the public. This is especially important in nightclub or restaurant situations, as there will be a limit on the number of people allowed in your building at one time. You also need to look into your state or city's air and water pollution permit requirements. In some places you need these permits to operate a business, and in others you don't. Be sure to check with your community's requirements regarding business signs as well. Some places have strict guidelines that must be followed regarding the size, location, lighting, and type of sign that can be installed.
Certain types of businesses also require specific types of licenses and permits. For example, if you are selling any type of food product, you will need a license from your county's health department. These are very inexpensive, but the fines for not applying are very high. Certain professions, such as those in the medical field, also require specific certificates or licenses. Check with your state laws before you open any sort of business that deals with health, even down to massage or hair styling.
Lastly, you'll need to apply for a sales tax license if you business is selling any taxable products or services. Again, laws vary from state to state on this issue, so be sure to check with your community's permit requirements before opening for business.
By staying legal you can help your business succeed. Permits are usually very simple to obtain and are many times also very inexpensive. However, the fees associated with not having the proper documentation can be very high. Research your state's laws before opening any business.
About the Author: Michael Saunders has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He edits a site on Starting a Small Business and is president of Information Organizers, LLC.