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How to Start a Business in New York City

New York is home to about a million small businesses, which make up about 99% of the state’s business population. On top of that, they employ a million employees, which is about 50% of New York’s working population. New York is home to more fortune 500 companies than any other state.

Major Companies

There are several major companies in New York as well as small businesses. Some of the major companies include:

  • ABC
  • HBO
  • AOL
  • Warner Music Group
  • Verizon Communications

Startup Environment

New York City is home to a very diverse population, a collection of massive corporations and a tight-knit business community, and an immense amount of startup capital. It is actually one of the best in the country. It is a valuable location for anyone looking into a business that deals with financial services, media, and communications. It is known for a fast-paced business environment.

Business Startup Checklist

We are going to assume you already have your business idea, the means to fund your company, and a business plan. If not I suggest starting with those. Then follow these simple steps and you are well on your way to success.

Step 1: Decide on a Business Structure

There are 3 basic options in a business structure. You have to decide which one is right for your business and yourself.

  • DBA- also know as Doing Business As is not a separate structure, but just a different name than an individual or a partner uses as their business name
  • Corporation- this is a separate entity that provides liability protection to the owners. Its structure includes shareholders, directors, and officers. It is more complex than a DBA.
  • LLC- also known as limited liability company it is a newer type of business that is a separate entity but has easy management and taxation. 

Step 2: Pick a Name

Normally picking a business name is easier said than done. if you pick the wrong name you can develop some business and legal issues. No fear, you can always change the name later if need be.

Some easy tips include

  • Make sure you have covered the basics- make the name unique, easy to understand, and pronounce and practice saying it out loud to see the flow.
  • Search the Web- make sure to search the web for the name you lie. Search Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo for any potential conflicts.
  • Do a trademark search- use the US Patent and Trademark Office and it will be a good indicator if you will have conflicts
  • Make sure the name you pick is available- Search the New York Business Entity Database by doing a name search. Search variations, plurals, and misspellings as well.

Step3: Register the Business

Next, you will need to register your business with the state. In New York the requirements are as follows:

  • Choose a Registered Agent Service- The Secretary of State acts as the registered agent by default but you can choose an alternative one.
  • File the “Articles of Organization” – This is filed with the New York Division of Corporations.
  • Hold Organizational Meeting- This is where you can take contributions from members, issue member certificates, and adopt company operating agreements

Step 4: Obtain a Federal Employee Identification Number 

This is also known as your EIN and is like a social security number for your company. It is required for Corporations and LLCs and optional for DBAs.

You can apply for an EIN online with the IRS or via IRS Form SS

Step 5: Open Company Accounts

In order to keep your business and personal expenses separate you should open a bank account and credit cards in your business name. Getting a business credit card can also help you begin to build a company credit profile and can later help you qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. To open an account simply visit the local bank of your choice and inquire within on how to open a business account. 

Typically you will need your filed paperwork, your EIN, and a company resolution.

Some top business banks are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Chase
  • Capital One
  • Bank of America

Step 6: Obtain Business License and Permits

Now that you have your business name registered you need to obtain a business license for your company. The business license authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for taxes such as state taxes and permits.

Step 7: Annual and Ongoing Requirements

There are some things you have to do on an annual or ongoing basis to keep your business afloat. Some examples of these can include:

  • DBA- When operating as a DBA your fictitious business name should be valid for 5 years (unless you change the name) at which point you have to renew it with the county.
  • LLC- When operating as an LLC and corporation you must file a biennial report during the anniversary month of incorporation
  • Corporation- If you are acting as a corporation you must keep complete books and records of accounts at the principal place of business. These include minutes of all shareholder, executive, and director meetings, a list of the names and addresses of all shareholders, the number and shares of each, and the date they became a shareholder. 
  • Franchise Taxes- New York businesses are required to pay an annual franchise tax based on several categories.

Starting a business anywhere is a big step but hopefully, with these few simple steps, it is a little easier. After you have all the legal stuff done it is time to find a space, plan it out and prepare to open. this should be an exciting time for you but may tend to get a little stressful. Reach out to friends and family for support. 

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