Small businesses are the heart of the American economy, comprising 98 percent of all businesses in New York and employing more than half of New York’s private sector workforce. Innovation, creativity, determination and perseverance are just a few of the essential qualities small business owners demonstrate every day.
The requirements to start a small business may vary depending on the type of business but the following steps can be used as a guideline:
Step 1. Gather Information
Empire State Development has developed a resource guide to help you start your small business. Download "A Guide to Owning and Operating a Small Business in New York State" - a great guide to understand and learn all of the aspects of becoming a business owner.
Step 2. Create a Business Plan
Many businesses fail without a well thought-out business plan and most banks will require that you have one before being considered for a loan. The Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism can assist you with writing your business plan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has an online business plan tool with a step-by-step guide to develop a business plan. For more assistance on creating business plans you can contact the SCORE program and the New York State Small Business Development Centers, both of which provide low and no-cost assistance in the development of business plans.
Step 3. Determine Business Legal Structure
There are many structures a business can take in New York State such as a Sole Proprietorship (DBA), Partnership, Limited Liability Company, or Corporation. It is recommended that you consult an attorney to determine the appropriate legal structure for your company. Refer to the SBA's website for more information on the different types of businesses.
Step 4. Determine a Business Name
If you have decided the legal structure will be a sole proprietorship, choose your name and register a “Doing Business As” or DBA certificate with the Cattaraugus County clerk’s office (the form can be found here). If you have chosen another legal structure for your business your attorney will file the business name with the NYS Dept. of State. There are several sites that can assist you, such as the SBA at www.sba.gov/content/how-name-business.
Step 5. Obtain Tax, Permit and License Information
Depending on what type of business you are starting there could be permits and licenses needed. Employers must register as an employer, pay taxes, withhold, match and submit employee withholdings, obtain worker's compensation insurance and adhere to other regulations. For New York State tax requirements, review the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website. Federal tax requirements are detailed on the IRS website. Information on permits and licenses can be found on the NYS Business Express website (see the Business Permits and License section of this website for more information).
Step 6. Zoning
Check with your local municipal town, village or city to check on any zoning issues before you rent or purchase a building. View the Cattaraugus County zoning map for municipalities that have zoning.
Step 7. Financing
Financing the initial expenditures is one of the most important steps in starting a business venture. Bring your business plan to your local bank or credit union to secure funding. Most financial institutions will not consider a deal without it. Cattaraugus County also offers small business loans. For more loans and financing assistance refer to the Loans and Grants section of this website.
Step 8. Other Resources
Visit the Business Resources section of this website for information on other agencies and organizations that can assist your business.