Skip to main content

Select your business type

Learn about starting or operating your business in New York City

Business Checklist Resources

Expand all

Create a Business Plan

Develop your business idea. ​​Every business starts as an idea. Take advantage of free courses to ​​​turn​ your idea into a business plan. Register for business planning courses.

Seek out business advice. Get feedback on your business idea and plan. Small Business Services (SBS) offers hands-on, intensive, cohort-based instruction for your business plan. Sign up for classes.

Write your business plan. A business plan is a living document that serves as a roadmap for your business. Access an online guide to create your business plan.

Register Your Business

Choose your legal structure. The business's legal structure determines who owns and is legally responsible for your business and affects how you file your taxes.​ Get free advice on legal structures.

Register your business. Corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships register with New York State. General partnerships and sole proprietorships register with the appropriate county clerk. Get free legal advice.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An Employer Identification Number (EIN) — also known as a federal Tax ID number — is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS that businesses use for tax filing and reporting purposes. In some instances, if you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number for tax filing and reporting purposes instead. Learn more about EIN.

Register as a sales tax vendor. Register as a sales tax vendor with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance in order to sell products and services. Apply early to avoid delays in obtaining additional permits. Learn more about the Sales Tax Vendor Certificate.

Research required insurance. Research the necessary insurance types for your business, including workers' compensation, liability, and disability insurance. These are not only essential for securing permits and licenses but also safeguard your business against losses, fines, and legal actions.

Finance Your Business

Determine your financing needs. To start your business, you will need money or capital to purchase equipment and run your operations. Increase your chances of getting financing for your business.

Identify incentive programs. Your business can benefit from programs that allow you to lower your cost of doing business. Small Business Services (SBS) can help you identify and access energy cost savings, tax credits, and other incentives. Learn more about incentives.

​​Understand your insurance needs. ​​Understand your insurance needs such as workers' compensation, liability, and disability insurance. Some are needed for permits and licenses and protect you from loss, fines, and lawsuits. Managing risk is an essential part of your business. Learn more about insurance.

Find, Plan, and Build Out Your Space

Find a location zoned for your business. Find a location zoned for your business, and at the legally required distance from a school or place of worship if you plan to serve alcohol. Your business location​,​ and the opinion of the local Community Board​,​ will be reviewed for your liquor license application. Learn more about zoning requirements.

Learn more about zoning in your neighborhood. Learn more about zoning in your neighborhood with the Department of City Planning's ZoLa map. Use the ZoLa Map.

Learn about facilities and program sites in your prospective neighborhood. Learn about facilities and program sites in your prospective neighborhood that might impact your business on the Department of City Planning's Facilities Explorer.

Get help understanding and signing your lease. Before signing, talk to a lawyer to make sure the timing is right, the terms are legal, and the agreement is good for you. Get free commercial lease assistance through SBS.

Review your building plans for major and minor construction within your space. Review your building plans for major and minor construction within your space. The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers free plan examinations, and experienced client managers can help you navigate the process. Get help with plan examinations.

Plan your food establishment design. Select and engage architect(s), general contractor(s), and/or interior and kitchen designers to plan any changes and ensure that your space complies with building and fire codes. Make sure your architect and/or contractor is licensed.

Changes to a landmarked property. Changes to a landmarked property or building in a historic district must be approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission before work can begin. ​​Allow time to receive approval. Learn more about work on landmark properties.

If your location will host events where 75 people or more will gather. If your location will host events where 75 people or more will gather, you will need a Place of Assembly Permit. Learn more about the Place of Assembly Permit.

Plan to limit noise. Plan to limit noise from your establishment to avoid fines, and do not play music in front of your business to attract customers. Learn more about the Noise Code.

Limit construction noise. You must create and post a noise mitigation plan to keep noises from bothering neighbors. Failure to do so can result in fines. Learn more about construction noise regulations.

Prepare to Open

​​Avoid common violations and fines.​ SBS offers free compliance consultations that can save you time and money. Get help with licenses and permits​.​

The Federal, State, and City requirements. ​​Learn about the Federal, State, and City requirements, as well as​​​ the permits your business will need by using the Step-by-Step Tool​.​

Maximize recycling and avoid violations. Set​​​-​up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a DSNY training and download or order educational materials. ​​Attend a training​.​

Post applicable worker protection posters. Follow Federal as well as New York State requirements. ​Download posters​.

Post prices, refund policy, and other required signs. Post prices, refund policy, and other required signs from the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.​ Learn more about posting and signage requirements​.​

Hire a Team

Get help with hiring. Talented workers can help your business succeed. Let ​Small Business Services (SBS)​​ ​help you find the right employees. ​​Get help with hiring.

Laws for employers. Employing New Yorkers means following rules about how much to pay, what benefits to provide and more. Learn more about local laws employers must follow.

Minimum wages. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) oversees wage regulations in New York State. Businesses employing people in New York State should consult NYSDOL resources to be aware of wage requirements and regulations. Learn more about minimum wage.

Train your employees. Train your employees, so that your team has the skills your business needs. We can help cover training costs. Learn more about employee training.

Unemployment insurance. I​t's important to ​understand your business’ unemployment insurance requirements​.​​​ Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. Learn about unemployment insurance.

Workers' compensation. ​​It's important to​​​ understand your workers' compensation insurance requirements for your business​. Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. Learn about workers' compensation insurance.

Open and Operate

Display licenses and required posters.

Give customers clear receipts. Show prices and print your business name and address on your invoices and receipts.

Give customers clear invoices. Show prices and print your business name and address.

Get permits and limit air pollution. If you release fumes into the air, you may be subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (Air Code).

Hazardous materials above threshold amounts. Hazardous materials above threshold amounts must be registered under NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Right-to-Know program. Many common materials such as paint, solvents, inks, pool chemicals, and cleaning products can have hazardous characteristics. Learn more about Right-To-Know.

All vehicles may only idle as permitted or face fines. As a general rule of thumb, no person should allow the engine of a motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, unless it is an authorized emergency motor vehicle, or a vehicle using an engine to operate a loading device. The legal idling time is reduced to one minute if the vehicle is parked adjacent to a school facility. Learn more about idling regulations.

Watch for asbestos. A licensed asbestos investigator must determine if asbestos is present, and if so then a licensed abatement contractor must contain it and give notice to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection before you can demolish or renovate the structure. Learn more about asbestos rules and regulations.

Train your employees on sexual harassment prevention. You must do so under state law. Learn more about sexual harassment training.