Opening A Business Checklist
Being and entrepreneur can be both rewarding and challenging.
In Alabama there are several steps you must take in order to open a business. These include obtaining not only a local city license but, also an Alabama State License. In some counties you must also obtain a county license to open a business. When you get your license the licensing office is also the known as the revenue office for the city, state, or county. The license clerk will give you papers that must be filled out and completed usually quarterly. According to the amount of sales of taxable products, you will have to send in collected taxes to the particular city, county or state. You must check with the particular tax office but some locations such as Birmingham, Alabama may allow you to pay taxes yearly instead of quarterly. There is an initial license fee based on your estimated sales. You may then be required to pay additional licenses fees in following years based on total sales.
In Alabama while you are required to collect taxes on sales of parts and other product, you are not required to collect taxes on services. Verify that this is the current policy when you obtain your State of Alabama business license. In addition to these licenses some professions require that you obtain a specific license for your given profession.
If you will be conducting business in a physical location you will need to contact the Fire Marshal, Health Department, and Building Inspector or City Engineer inspect your location to approve your building before opening for business. This can vary with the specific municipality.
You will also require insurance that is specific to the type of business you are conducting. The cost of your business insurance may vary according to how many years of experience you have in the particular profession. Types of insurance you may encounter include: auto insurance if you use a vehicle or if you or your employees use any type of vehicle for delivery, sales or other business uses; property insurance to protect you and customers/clients in case of an accident on your business property; and liability insurance if you sell certain products or provide service where injury may occur. For liability insurance I recommend calling Farmer's Insurance and asking for Walter Schor. He is the best insurance agent I know. He has helped a lot of entrepreneurs.
If you have a physical location, you will have go to the power company and get the lights and power turned on. If you have an account with Alabama Power or another similar utility company, the power company may let you use your personal account as your credibility and you may not have to pay an additional deposit. Water service, sewage service, natural gas if applicable, and garbage pickup vary according to city, county and state. But, in general you will usually have to physically go to the office of each department and pay a deposit to have these services turned on. As you know you will be billed monthly for these services.
Other services you will need to obtain include fire extinguisher and other fire protection services. The number of fire extinguishers you will need will depend on the size of you building, the number of rooms and shape of the building, number of floors, type of materials, metals, or chemicals located or stored in the building and expected occupancy and other factors.. The building will also need to have exit and emergency lights that are up to date, have new light bulbs and batteries and are functional.
If you open a restaurant you will have to have a kitchen fire suppression system that is up to date and appropriate for the type of cooking you will be doing. A professional fire protection service company will need to be called to perform this service and advise you of the fire services and products you will need. Once the fire protection company has made the required repairs and maintenance and tagged your fire extinguishers and other equipment, you will need to arrange with the local Fire Marshal to make a fire inspection and give approval for the business to open. See below for fire extinguisher inspections. Good luck with your endeavors as a new or seasoned entrepreneur.