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Do I need a Business License?

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As a personal trainer, I’ve had plenty of clients who wanted to start their own fitness businesses. These individuals were typically motivated enough to summon the determination needed for success, but they weren’t sure what kind of business or specialities their dream venture should focus on. I always gave them some advice:

If you’re open-minded and have a passion for fitness, chances are there’s already a market for that kind of service in your city or neighborhood. The problem is: you might have trouble finding it right away, since people don’t tend to flock to new fitness venues.

Consider this scenario: You work up an appetite and notice some new eateries opening up in your area, specializing in food that’s healthy and free from additives. Initially, you’d likely be hesitant to join the trendy scene—why would anyone pay money to eat better? In fact, it would take almost ten years before the niche becomes mainstream enough that everyone wants to get involved with its growth.

In other words: Don’t make sweeping assumptions about opportunities just because the first idea comes naturally to you or sounds good on paper—take time to explore possibilities before making any commitments or investing too much cash into an untested venture (unless you’re 100% certain).


In my past as a personal trainer, I’ve seen many people start out with health clubs and weight loss programs only to realize later how little demand there actually is for such services in most markets outside Lagos, Abuja and other mega cities in Nigeria. They wind up getting discouraged by these failures and don’t pursue their goals at all—but if they had started smaller instead with something easy like meal delivery plans or exercise videos that could be copied easily by competitors , they might have found steadier success.

Do you need a Business license?


Have you ever had a table at a flea market or craft fair? If so, you need to have obtained a business license. This is because you’re selling goods and services to the public. Whether your goods are taxable depends on where you live, but the necessary paperwork remains the same regardless of tax status. Having one of these licenses means that the state’s tax agency will be collecting taxes on your behalf, which is much easier than doing it yourself!

Do you need to be licensed to sell your product?


During your research, you may have learned that some states require a license to sell certain types of products. In some situations, a business-specific license is also required. For example, if you want to get a Fintech Company in Nigeria, you need a Payment Systems Providers business license.  For drug, drinks and food, you need a permit from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Your best bet is always to contact your state and local government offices directly for specific requirements regarding your product(s).


Do you need to be certified or licensed for the work that you’ll perform?


Licensing requirements vary by state, industry and job role. If you’re planning to start a home business as a personal or occupational therapist, for example, your state will require that you have the proper licensing and certification to practice in that field. Same goes for doctors or lawyers.

You should also check with your city zoning office to make sure that you can operate a business out of your home without violating any local ordinances. It might surprise some people to know that there are also professions where it’s illegal not to have a license.

Do you own any vehicles that will be used for business purposes?


If you have a business vehicle, you will need to purchase a commercial license plate. To get a commercial plate, you must:

  • Own or lease a vehicle that is used for business purposes
  • Be licensed/registered to conduct business in New York State
  • Register the vehicle at the Vehicle Insurance Office (VIO)

You can also get personalized license plates with your business name on it. Once your application has been approved by the VIO, which can take around 6 weeks, your custom plates will be manufactured and mailed to the address given on your application.

Are you concerned about legal matters, such as protecting your personal assets from business creditors?

  • Are you concerned about legal matters, such as protecting your personal assets from business creditors?

If so, consider forming an LLC (limited liability company) or corporation. These business forms separate your personal assets from the company’s assets and shield you from personal liability for your business debts and claims against the business.

  • Are you planning on operating with a partner?

Consider forming a partnership if you are not the sole owner of the business.

  • Do you plan on being the sole owner of your business? If so, consider forming a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships are easy to form, inexpensive and require little or no formalities in their formation.

Even if your business is home-based, it still needs a name.

  • Choose a name. Even though you’re running your business out of your home, it still needs a name. You can use your own name (as in John Smith Consulting) or you can make up a name for your business (as in XYZ Widget Company).
  • If you choose to call yourself something other than your own personal name, do not use a fictitious name that is already being used by another business.
  • If the name you want is being used by another business, you will have to select an alternative. One option is to register and operate under a “doing business as” (DBA) or “fictitious” name. A DBA allows you to do business under another name without having to go through the steps of forming a corporation or limited liability company (LLC).

Will your home office be large enough to accommodate employees, and are you allowed to have employees in your home?

Will your home office be large enough to accommodate employees, and are you allowed to have employees in your home? Many homeowners don’t think they need a business license because they work from their home office. It’s important to keep in mind that some businesses require more than one person working at the same time.

If you plan on hiring employees, make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy covers both yourself and your home-based business. You’ll also want to check with your landlord (if you’re renting) or neighborhood association (if you’re a homeowner) about employee coverage and see if there are any rules or regulations about having employees in your home.

If you are a landlord, do you plan on hiring employees? Check with your landlord about employee coverage, as well as any rules or regulations about having employees in their homes. Some landlords don’t allow for this type of activity without written permission from them first.

A state licensing agency is your best resource as you determine what additional licenses and permits you need.


Find out if you need a business license for your state by contacting a state licensing agency. These agencies can help tell you which licenses, permits and taxes apply to your specific business type. State licensing agencies can also provide general information about how to register and pay your taxes.

If you don’t know where to find the appropriate licensing agency in the state where you plan to do business, contact your local chamber of commerce or look online for “business licenses” plus the name of the state. It is also sometimes called the department of commerce or secretary of state office.

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