Updated July 10, 2020:

Starting an online business in NY requires the same process of acquiring permits and licenses as any other business. These rules are required according to the law governing the opening of a business in New York.

Ten Steps to Starting a New York Online Business

  1. Clearly outline your business idea.
  2. Choose the type of business structure you'll be operating under and register it.
  3. Be sure your business is set up in accordance to the New York tax code.
  4. Obtain the proper permits and licenses applicable to your business.
  5. Create an account at your bank dedicated to the business only.
  6. Pick a location for your business, if applicable.
  7. Have funding and financing in place for the business.
  8. Have a website designed and published for the business.
  9. Begin marketing the business.
  10. Stay current on trends, learn, and remain inspired.

About Starting an Online Business in New York

Several things must be considered to successfully open an online business that adheres to New York small business law. It's vital that you obtain the proper licenses and permits to be considered a legally operating online business. The type of business you're establishing may require one or more licenses and/or permits before you can begin operation. These include authorization from the federal government, state government, and local city or county authorities.

If the business will be involved with dangerous activities such as firearms, drug manufacturing, or selling alcohol, federal permits and licenses are required. You likely won't need a federal license or permit if your business isn't involved in these types of activities. There's also a difference between an online business selling a product and providing a service in regard to the type of permit needed.

The information and resources you may need to start an online business are available on these websites:

  • New York State Department of State Division of Licensing Services for federal permits and licenses.
  • New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for local permits and licenses for New York City.
  • The New York Better Business Bureau. Visit this site for information about the type of business structure that addresses the needs of your business. An example would be setting up your business as a sole proprietorship or limited liability company.

Once you have any required permits and licenses, you'll need to register the online business with the New York Secretary of State for businesses structured as anything other than a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship registers with the county but isn't required to register on a federal level.

File Form SS-4 with the IRS to acquire an employer identification number. This number is necessary to identify your business when paying business taxes. If your business will be structured as a multi-member limited liability company or as a corporation, a federal identification number is required. A business that will be operating under a name other than the individual owner's name must apply for a business certificate or a fictitious name certificate.

Tips for Honing a Business Plan

It's recommended that a potential business owner create two basic business plans. One plan will detail how the business will be managed and operated. The other plan will outline the finances and budget of the business. Both plans need to be thought out, detailed, and in a professional format. Next, create a cover list that includes the following:

  • The business name.
  • The business address and phone number.
  • Owner(s) name.
  • Primary goals.

Business Plan

Because one of the goals of a business is to attract investors, additional information promoting the business should be included in the plan. This information can include the outstanding features that your business will provide, any relevant experience you or your partners bring to the business, several reasons why your type of business will succeed, and the advantages your business has compared to similar businesses.

Financial Plan

The financial plan also needs to be in-depth with pertinent information relevant to start-up costs and the funding of the business. Include information such as an estimation of the businesses operating expenses, estimation of income, an analysis of cash flow, and an estimation of how much volume is needed for the business to break even.

If you need help with starting an online business in NY, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.