Now that you've decided what type of business you would like to go in, it's time to make it official. All businesses need at least one local, state or federal license to legally operate in the United States, so the next step is to obtain a business license for the state in which you would like to do business, which is actually a fairly quick and easy process.

Laws vary state-to-state, but typically your state's secretary of state's Web site is where you should begin. Conduct a simple search in your favorite search engine to find the Web address for your secretary of state. Once you have arrived on the appropriate site, there will be various business licenses available for you to choose from.
After choosing the appropriate license(s), you will be taken to a screen that will enable you to download the forms you need to apply for your license. Fill out all of the forms associated with applying for your particular license. Prior to submitting your application, make a copy to keep for your records. Some states allow you to submit forms electronically, while others require forms to be mailed. Either way, make sure the full fees are submitted with your application. After your application is submitted, the approval process generally will take a few weeks to complete. Once your license is approved, you will receive your business license in the mail, and can begin conducting business.

Make sure you take note of whether the license must be renewed on a regular basis. If so, keep track of the renewal dates and be sure to renew your license prior to expiration, as there are serious penalties and fines for businesses that operate without appropriate licenses. Also keep a copy of your license for your business records. Many states require business owners to display their licenses so they are visible to customers and clients. If this is a requirement for your particular license, be sure to do so, as not displaying a license when it is required is also considered a serious violation.

It is important to note, if you ever expand your business or its products and/or service offerings, you may need additional licenses. Prior to any expansion projects, you may want to check to see if any additional licenses are required for your business, just to play it safe. If your business is involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency, you will probably also need to obtain a federal license, according to the Small Business Administration

Author's Bio: 

J. Mariah Brown is the owner of Writings by Design, LLC. To learn more about how Writings by Design, and our extensive business writing and administrative services, please visit us at, email your question to or call 866-937-2361.