It should be enough to have a great idea for a product or service and to have the capital and drive to bring that idea to market and turn it into a business. Unfortunately, there is an additional set of hurdles that all business owners must negotiate—Federal, State and Local government rules and regulations. And depending on your type of business, there can be a bunch of them.

To help you through the red tape, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created a Business Licenses and Permits tool. You simply enter your zip code and the type of business you’re running (or planning to start) and click the submit button. The tool returns a list of the licenses, permits, and registrations required for your locality at the Federal, State, County, and City/Town level.

The list is broken down into steps, and includes links to the resources you’ll need to properly register. Step 1 is tax registration, Step 2 is business licenses, Step 3 is local permits, Step 4 is incorporation filing, Step 5 is DBA filing, and Step 6 is employer requirements. Each step contains a list of items you’ll need to consider along with how to determine if they apply to your business.

So, whether you’re starting a new business, getting ready to formalize an ad-hoc consulting gig, or just want to make sure your current business is following the rules—use the SBA Business Licenses and Permits tool to make sure all your Is are dotted and Ts are crossed. Then, get back to the real work of growing that business you love.

Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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