Local Business Laws and You

On episode #006 of the Small Business Celebration podcast, Ron Holbert of JoRonCo Party Rentals talks about how the smart business owner finds out about the laws in their area that affect their business.

This conversation wasn’t about state and federal laws, but the local laws that affect our business and after the podcast, Ron Holbert went into greater detail about what to look for.

While on the surface this seems like very basic thing to do, sometimes a new business owner, or a business owner that is rapidly expanding can loose site of some of these basics…basics that can get them in trouble very quickly.

Many businesses need a local license to do business or a “fictitious name” statement
What permits are required, like health permits for food businesses?
What inspections are necessary, like fire inspection?
What zoning changes or variances will be needed?

For most cities and towns, you will need a general business license for that locality- but not always. Sometimes this license may be waived if you have a professional license or operate in the county that does not require a business license, so you need a check. In addition, there may be site inspections or other operating permits that may pertain to your business that can be found at the local Planning, Development, Building, or Zoning Departments.

Next, you’ll want to check in with your Assessor, Controller, or Tax Collector to see what property (or other taxes) that may be assessed on your business.

In addition, many traditional business may need to have a Fire, Building, or Public Health Department inspection of the premises.

For a home-based business or a business in an area previously not zoned for your type of business, you may need to request a zoning change. Depending on your business classification, you may also need a health permit before you can open your business, and you will need to submit to an annual health department review.

Also, there may be other laws and permits that may pertain uniquely to your business – and some laws and permits that may not be immediately obvious. This is an area that Ron talks about in our podcast interview. The simple answer is that most counties and municipalities have packets of information, or web links, that can give you a general “check-off” list of what you need to open a new business. As you get further specialized, you may want to consult an industry trade group associated with your type of business or a business law firm (as well as a certified public accountant) to help you make sure you haven’t missed anything and are in good stead with the law. The last thing you would want is to inadvertently miss something and get a letter, or a visit, that informs you of your legal violation that inhibits your growth and developing a strong and profitable business.

Michael Roberts
Small Business Celebration

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