Many business owners overlook or are unaware of the importance of obtaining a business license. However, a business license is mandatory. In fact, it’s illegal not to have a business license.

So why do you need a business license? Because it:

  • Helps identify businesses;
  • Holds businesses accountable;
  • Protects public health and safety; and
  • Tracks businesses’ finances for tax purposes.

When you go to obtain a business license, here are some things that you need to have ready.

Business Name

If you don’t already have a business name picked out, now is the time to do so. Remember that your business name is often the first thing that potential clients learn about you. Make sure that you’re making a great first impression and matching your brand.

Then, register your business name. Depending on the state in which you work, you may also need to file a DBA (Doing Business As) name, too.

Type of Business Structure

You need to know the structure of your business. The most common business structures for small businesses are

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (LLC)

A sole proprietorship is typically the best option for a single individual or married couple. However, their personal and business taxes will be combined. On the other hand, an LLC is a great option for a company with multiple owners who want personal and business taxes to stay separate.

Tax Identification Number

A tax identification number (TIN) is needed to file taxes. Go to the Internal Revenue Service’s website as soon as possible to start the process of getting a TIN for your company.

Zoning Laws and Permits

You may not need to worry about zoning laws and permits depending on where you do business and the type of business you have. Check with your local and state government to find out what permits you need to get. Even if you plan on doing business out of your home, check the residential zoning laws to find out what you need to do in order to run a business out of your home.

Certain businesses need additional permits before they can legally help clients. For example, caterers may need to get a signage permit, a health inspection certification, server training certification, and an alcohol license.

Try to complete the process of obtaining your business license as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could end up with penalties, including fines. Go online to check out the local, state, and federal licenses that you need in your area in order to legally run your business.

 

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