Creating a new business is like preparing for a wedding: there are so many details that must be planned and executed.
It’s easy to overlook some of the steps that are important to a business – especially when they are often perceived as being distasteful, expensive, and sometimes purely nonsense.
So it is with securing the necessary permits and licenses to make your business legal, keep you out of hot water, and legitimize your company.
I realize that the business world, especially online, is filled with illegitimate business entities.
Part of the problem is the fact that there are almost no barriers to Internet business entry.
And where are the Internet police – are they actively working to keep all businesses legal and in compliance?
Hardly! But then, you knew the answer to that question.
Anyone can slap up a web site, find some products to sell or someone else’s products to promote (affiliate sales), begin a PayPal account to process orders, and claim to be in business in short order.
But I can tell you, from some sad situations that I’ve witnessed, that you bypass this step at great risk to your personal and business future.
You can accomplish most of what you need to do in a short time these days because many of the legalities can be handled online.
You can even pay for your licenses by credit card, so the process (though not a particularly fun experience) is relatively painless.
This is a difficult subject to get very detailed about because the laws governing business creation vary from city to city, county to county, state to state, and country to country – we are suggesting that online business these days is global in scope.
Not only that, but the types of licenses and permits you may need in your business will vary depending upon the type of business you will be getting into and the products or services you plan to market.
If you deal with food, or alcoholic beverages, or fuels, or securities, or law enforcement, or exporting, or manufacturing, or banking, or air, or water, or hazardous materials, and on . . . and on . . . you will need special permits.
Here’s another sad fact: all businesses are not treated equally.
Besides your geography, and the subject of your business, the rules change depending upon the structure and legal framework you decide upon.
Sole proprietors, for example, will not be treated the same as corporations or partnerships.
My feeling has always been that surprises in business are not a good thing . . . so it’s best to confront your situation head-on and take the necessary steps to comply.
When surprises hit, they’re usually not welcome and more often than not, they bring their companion, bad news, added expense, and more more work/regulation with them.
If you set up your business in a particular location, and learn later that the zoning is not appropriate, you’re going to be upset that you either have to relocate or go through a laborious conditional use process.
Wouldn’t it be better to understand all the ground rules prior to launching?
In separate posts we’ll discuss the types of licenses that are typically granted and where you can get them.
Just one more thing.
You will be dealing with the IRS (if residing in the U.S.), either as a separate business entity or as the owner of a business.
You will have to state your intent and show your effort to be doing business legally when you file income taxes.
Don’t mess with the IRS.
Get legal and avoid waving red flags about what you are doing.
Was it the IRS guy that used to say, “You can pay me now, or pay me more later”?
To your online business success,