Checklist for Setting up a Small Business in Pennsylvania
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Your Ultimate Checklist to Set Up a Business in Pennsylvania, USA

Pennsylvania is one of the most startup-friendly states in the United States. Many small business laws and regulations make it easier for first-time entrepreneurs to set up a business in Pennsylvania that eventually thrives. For instance, “The Job Creation Tax Credit” program provides credits to businesses of all sizes if they create new jobs in a three-year time period.

Secondly, the veterans or reserve members are encouraged to establish a small business by waiving some common business fees associated with establishing a small business. Moreover, Pennsylvania has extensive resources for young and old entrepreneurs, including infrastructure, human capital, and easy access to information and other resources.

This article will be of your interest if you are based anywhere in Pennsylvania and looking for answers to queries like these:

  • Business license in Pennsylvania
  • Registering a business in PA
  • How to set up a business in Pennsylvania with no money
  • PA grants for starting a business
  • How to start a sole proprietorship in PA
  • Starting an LLC in PA
  • How to start an online business in PA
  • Starting a business in PA checklist

Well, there’s no denying the fact that PA is a highly resourceful state for starting and running a small business of any type. However, you must start and run the business according to laws and regulations. To do this, you need to go through a process that involves a list of actionable items to set up a business in Pennsylvania.

Start a Business in Pennsylvania

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How Do I Start a Business in Pennsylvania?

Let’s start discussing all that you need to start and run a small business startup in Pennsylvania.

1. Find and validate your business idea.

There are thousands of opportunities that can prove to be successful businesses, but you should go for something that is of your interest, and you are sure that you can do it best. Here is a list of small business ideas for Philadelphia for a quick reference, or you might want to check a big list of small business ideas for the United States as well. This may sound like an easy step but think hard about what you will be selling and whether you have the skills and qualifications to run a business. Know how to check the feasibility of a business idea.

2. Conduct the necessary research.

It is important to do market research in order to make sure that your business idea has the potential to earn profits and grow big. Confirm it first that whatever you are going to sell is legal. Find who will buy it and how often, who the competitors are, what costs are involved in producing, marketing, selling the expected profit, and hoit will it will take for your business to be profitable.

3. Start planning.

With the research findings in hand, you should create a business plan. Remember that you must have a written business plan, even for a home-based business, and if you cannot spare time to develop a detailed document, have a one-page business plan. Ideally, a good business plan should include a management process, marketing plan, production strategies, and financial goals.

4. Identify the business structure.

Before you register your small business anywhere in Pennsylvania, you must know your company’s right business structure, i.e., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or a nonprofit startup, etc. The registration process of each type is fairly different as it requires different documentation, i.e., a partnership agreement is required to register a partnership business, and articles of incorporation are required for registering a corporation. You can learn more about the differences in business structure and determine the best one for your venture. It is highly recommended that you seek an attorney’s help, as you’ll ultimately need it to prepare the legal documents.

5. Register your business.

Find a business name that is not being used by anyone else, and make sure to register a domain name too. The next comes to the registration process and an attorney will be helping you, make sure to be involved in the whole process to make sure everything is going in the right direction. For registration help, visit the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporation Bureau or the Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI), a step-by-step wizard that guides users through the process of registering an enterprise with the Departments of Labor & Industry, Revenue, and State. Following are the must-haves when registering your business in Pennsylvania:

  • Register for state taxes with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue by completing the PA 100, an online fill-in form.
  • Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS.
  • Apply for contractor’s registration through the Attorney General either online or by mail.
  • Apply for Sales Tax ID through the Department of Revenue.
  • If you plan to hire employees for your business, make sure to register with the PA Department of Labor and Industry at Online Business Registration Interview. Find out about worker’s compensation and get tax information on withholding taxes and hiring independent contractors.

6. File for patents if required.

If your product or service is an invention, you may want to protect it by filing a patent. Patents are essential if you want to protect your intellectual property. If you sell a product or invention without a patent, you risk someone else coming to profit off of your idea. There are many people out there that wouldn’t lose sleep at night doing this, so protect your creations!

Check out the patent laws in Pennsylvania to get started and apply for your patent. Trust us, it will be worth it.

To do this, you should check out the USPTO Inventor’s Assistance Program (IAP).

7. Complete any other necessary registrations.

You should make sure that you pass all business registrations if required, i.e., reserve your federal trademark/service mark, register copyrights, etc. You’ll want to ensure that these are complete before you begin operations. If you’re caught without your appropriate registrations to set up a business in Pennsylvania, you could face some legal problems down the line. It’s better to avoid this, so depending on the business you want to run, take a close look at registrations you need to apply for and complete.

8. Check zoning laws.

If you plan to do business from home, be advised that the zoning ordinances differ among townships and boroughs. So, check with your local authorities and also check the PA E-Library. This way, you can be crystal-clear on where you can set up shop on your property.

9. Have your business insured properly.

The insurance requirements may vary depending upon the nature of the business. For example, some businesses may need public liability insurance while others don’t. Get quotes from various insurance brokers and get one that best meets your requirements. For this task, we’d recommend outsourcing the research work.

It can be hard to find all the laws and insurance policies that would benefit you the most, so you can hire out for this. Insurance agents can help you find the best deal and ensure that you are completely compliant with all insurance laws.

10. Organize your financial matters.

Open a bank account for your business and get suitable accounting or bookkeeping software. Without a good financial structure, you could risk losing profits and records of sales! You’ll want to set this up as soon as you have your other steps in order.

11. Rent out a commercial space.

Renting out a commercial space for your business can help you manage employees, work away from home, and collaborate with your team members. If needed, and purchase equipment and/or supplies. A comfortable office is a top priority as it accelerates work!

12. Install a business phone.

If you have a business, it could be a great idea to keep your home and work lives separate. To do this, you can install a second phone plan strictly for business purposes.

13. Set up your marketing materials.

The last step of the checklist is to find out how you’re going to market your product or service. Marketing materials can take many forms, i.e., business cards, websites, social media accounts, print materials, stationery, and more. It’s up to you the route you want to take, or you could outsource this work to a marketing agency

The Bottom Line:

The above checklist is a general guideline to set up a business in Pennsylvania. You may have to go through some additional steps depending upon your business type. It’s suggested to visit a local SBA office or one of its partner locations. There, you can access complete resources, services, and better assistance from the federal government’s small business program.

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