Licenses You Need To Set Up Your Business Legally

Starting a business is incredibly exciting! You are finally doing something you are passionate about, and you hope to change the world, or at least your market. However, if you are thinking about opening a business, like many small business owners, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of licenses and legal hoops you have to jump through. These are a few of the licenses you should pursue before opening your doors.

Business Licenses

Your first step should be applying for a business license with your Secretary of State. You will have to pay a fee and renew the license each year, but the process should be relatively simple, especially if you know what type of business structure you hope to adopt (LLC, S-corp, sole proprietorship, etc.).

Next, you should check your city codes to determine if you need a license to operate within the city limits. Some cities require licensing if you will be located in residential communities, while others require licensing to operate in commercial districts. Just be sure you have the local licensing you need.

Some industries also require occupational licensing. Individuals who wish to operate as physicians, CPAs, lawyers, etc require these licenses. Be sure your professional licenses are up to date if you fall into this category.

Safety and Environmental Licenses

You will need a fire department permit if you own a business with foot traffic, such as hotels and restaurants, and if you work with hazardous or flammable chemicals. Your company will need a health license if you serve food or facilitate exercise.

Environmental licenses are required to prove that your company and its operations will not harm the environment. For example, it cannot cause air, water or land pollution.

Local Permits

You will probably also need local zoning permits to operate your business in the city. Your city has specific rules about what types of businesses can be opened in what areas. For example, retail businesses with walk-in traffic are not typically allowed in residential areas, whereas manufacturing businesses are not typically allowed in spaces that are mostly comprised of retail establishments. You need to identify the zoning on any property before you buy it and request zoning permits for any property you hope to build on.

You will also need building permits if you plan to build or remodel a facility. You may have to meet specific safety codes and local building requirements to gain these permits, but they must be awarded before any construction begins.

Your industry, size and type of business will determine the licensing you need. Even small business owners who work from home should be licensed. Consult with your county clerk if you have any questions about your city and county’s business license requirements.