From a legal perspective, there's a good deal more to starting your own business than simply coming up with a unique idea and opening your doors. Once you've decided on your business idea and name, composed your business plan, and selected the most appropriate type of workplace, the time has come to take care of all the necessary legal legwork.
Before opening day, you need to find out which of the numerous business-related rules, regulations, licenses, permits and forms are applicable to your venture. Brush up on the specifics of each and complete any required paperwork. Relevant tasks typically include: (1) obtaining a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN); (2) applying for state and city business licenses; (3) obtaining state sales tax and resale tax certificates; (4) investigating zoning regulations; and (5) registering your business name.
Because state, county and local regulations vary dramatically, call around to find out what is--and is not--required in your area. A good place to start is by contacting the Small Business Administration (SBA) office in your state. Inform the SBA that you're planning to launch your own business and would appreciate receiving a start-up information packet. Another helpful resource in most areas is the local chamber of commerce, which often provides all of the regulation and application information in one convenient bundle.
Keep in mind, too, that the applicable regulations and licenses vary according to the type of business you are starting. That's why you should also talk to entrepreneurs who are already operating the kind of business you're planning to open, just to ensure you've got all the legal bases covered. To provide some sense of just how business-specific the legal legwork process can be, our Starting Smart entrepreneurs are back to share their recollections.