Starting a business is a thrilling journey but it’s also an incredibly complex one, especially for those who don't have experience—and who don’t know where to turn for guidance. If you’re based in New York and wondering what you should do to ensure the business you’re dreaming of starts off the right way, the following guide will walk you through the process of getting your business up and running – from choosing a legal business structure to obtaining necessary licenses and registrations, and more.

Choosing the Right Business Structure

The first step in setting up a business in the city is to choose an appropriate legal business structure. Depending on your preferences and circumstances, you may choose to operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, S corporation, or C corporation. Each type of entity protects you from various forms of liability, offers certain tax advantages, and carries its own set of compliance requirements. So select the structure that best suits your business’ needs and remember that you may be able to convert from one type of entity to another in the future.

Creating a Business Name and Registering It

Once you have decided on the legal structure of your business, create a unique name and register it with the New York Secretary of State. Although the state allows you to name your business at the time of registration, you should complete the preliminary research to make sure the name you’ve chosen is not already in use and won't conflict with existing trademarks.

Obtaining the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Even if your business isn’t legally required to obtain a license, you may still need to register with the appropriate agencies for tax purposes or request special authorization on your activities. For example, businesses that require local permits may need to provide the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs with a valid sales tax identification number to prove they're registered.

Formalizing Your HR Practices

If your business is hiring staff, make sure you adhere to the provisions of the New York Human Rights Law and the State Employment Security law. This means ensuring that your job descriptions, hiring practices, and other related policies are in compliance with the laws of the state. You should also consider familiarizing yourself with labor law to ensure that you treat your employees fairly and in line with regulations.

Compliance of Corporate Formalities

Depending on the type of entity and the number of owners, every business is required to observe certain corporate formalities, including maintaining corporate minutes, issuing stock, holding annual meetings, and keeping separate records and accounts. At the same time, as a business owner, you also need to understand the necessary steps for dissolving or transferring a business.

Paying Taxes

Not only may you be liable to pay personal and corporate taxes, but depending on your type of business, you may also need to pay excise taxes, licensing fees, payroll taxes, and more. Therefore, it’s important to understand the taxes applicable to your business and plan how you’re going to comply with the reporting and filing deadline requirements.

Seeking Professional Legal Guidance

As you can see, starting a business in New York can be a daunting task, as there are numerous legal compliance and reporting requirements that you need to consider. For this reason, it’s worth considering seeking the advice of an experienced attorney to help ensure your business is running smoothly from a legally compliant and cost-effective standpoint.


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