Starting a small business? Your state is here to help

Business, Money

Starting a small business is both exciting and terrifying. Navigating the required paperwork – and even knowing what is required – adds a whole new level of anxiety. Most aspiring entrepreneurs know that the Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal agency focused on the development of small business nationally, is an excellent source of guidance. But SBA information can only go so far: each state has its own requirements for business that operate within its boundaries. Thankfully, the states provide abundant resources for both newbies and experienced business owners.

First things first: Write that business plan

Businesses owners don’t start their enterprise because they love paperwork and dealing with profit and loss statements (unless, maybe, their business is an accounting firm.) Entrepreneurs are motivated to start their business because of a passion or a skill. The trick is turning that passion into a viable enterprise, and the first step is to put together a solid business plan. The SBA can be an invaluable resource here, as it offers great information on writing business plans.

Once you’ve developed a sound business plan, you’ll want to drill down into the details of running your enterprise in a particular locale. This is where state resources can be indispensable, as the following examples show.

How to register a business in California

Say you want to find the right location for your new restaurant in Los Angeles. The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development can help. It provides targeted assistance for site selection, including an interactive mapping tool with information about location-specific regulations, laws, and other requirements.

Growing pains in New York State

Has your big apple business grown to the point where you’re asking everyone you know things like, “how should a sole proprietorship set up an LLC in NY?” The Department of Taxation and Finance has an official publication with that specific information. Don’t be fooled by the title. Publication 16 is clear and concise and can help translate the different tax implications for single-person businesses in New York.

Licensing questions in Washington state

Need to find out what types of licenses your photography business may need in Seattle as opposed to Tacoma? Click through the Business Licensing Wizard developed by the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Like checklist support? You’ll love Arizona

Maybe you need guidance on setting up and operating your business in Arizona. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has you covered with a checklist program that lets you zero in on information tailored to your phase in the business development process. For example, the ACA’s webpage on “I’m thinking of starting a business in Arizona” leads you to a matrix with information on business counseling and assistance services. Click on “I’m expanding or relocating my business to Arizona” and you’ll find links to business requirements in specific Arizona cities.

How to start a business in New Jersey

Starting a pizza shop in New Jersey and want to know which business type is right for you and what it means for your taxes? Visit New Jersey’s Business Portal, billed as the “One-Stop Shop for Business.” Here you’ll find basic information on all the different business structures and their tax implications.

Know when to ask for help

Even with availability of these do-it-yourself business resources, many entrepreneurs still need specialized help. Attorneys, accountants, and counselors with expertise in small business formation and operation can provide individualized guidance when the business side of the small business becomes overwhelming.