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.
Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit. Industries that discharge 25,000 gallons or more of process water per day are required to have an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit, and must initially submit a Baseline Monitoring Report to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Learn about the permit.
Wastewater Quality Control Application. Select businesses, usually in the construction industry, may need to submit a Wastewater Quality Control Application if they need to temporarily discharge groundwater to a sanitary or combined sewer. Learn more about the wastewater quality control applicaiton.
Get a Secondhand Dealer General License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will buy or sell used goods. Learn more about the secondhand dealer general license.
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.
Confirm there is an existing Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). Confirm there is an existing Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and that it allows for your proposed business operation in the space. An amended C of O may be required if there is a change in use, egress, or type of occupancy. For buildings built or altered prior to 1938 when a C of O was not required at that time, a Letter of No Objection may be issued to confirm the legal use of the building. Learn more about the Certificate of Occupancy.
Professional certification. Professional Certification or "Pro-Cert" could save you weeks in receiving permits. Pro-Cert allows a professional to self-certify projects without initial review from the NYC Department of Buildings. Learn more about Pro-Cert.
Digitally plan submissions. Digitally plan submissions and review to save time. Have your professionals use the NYC Development HUB, including for Pro-Cert. Visit the NYC Development HUB.
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.
Oil and water separators. Oil and water separators are required at certain businesses where oily liquid waste is produced. Learn more about oil and water separators.
Gas cooking equipment. Gas cooking equipment requires a range hood and fire suppression system. Make sure your licensed professional files plans with the NYC Fire Department. Learn about range hoods.
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.
Check your kitchen’s grease interceptor, or plan to install one. If you cook, prepare, or serve food, or wash dishes, utensils, trays, or other items in your establishment, check your kitchen’s grease interceptor, or plan to install one. All commercial kitchens (and cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes with kitchens) must capture grease from sinks, woks, floor drains, and other fixtures to prevent clogging pipes and sewer backups. Learn about grease interceptors.
Backflow prevention devices. Most property owners must install backflow prevention devices on each service line to protect the New York City water supply from contamination or pollution. Learn more about approval of backflow prevention devices.
Limit air pollution. If you release fumes into the air, you are subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (also known as the "Air Code"). Learn about the Air Code.
Obtain an Air Permit. Businesses that operate equipment or engage in activities regulated by the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (also known as the "Air Code") may be required to obtain an Air Permit. Learn about Air Permits.
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.
Free bike racks. Free bike racks for the sidewalk outside your business can be requested from the NYC Department of Transportation. Learn more about bike racks.
Hire a private carting service. Hire a private carting service and set up your space to comply with commercial recycling rules. Learn more about hiring a private carter.
Canopies. Canopies must be approved by the property owners and the NYC Department of Transportation. Learn more about canopy approval.
Consider sharing a kitchen space. Consider sharing a kitchen space with other businesses or commercial kitchen operators. New York City also operates incubators. Learn more about shared kitchens.
Your construction should match what your business permits require. Your construction should match what your business permits require. Make sure your licensed professional plans spaces and utilities connections to match the requirements of your business permits.
Consult your licensed professional about progress inspections. Consult your licensed professional about progress inspections and their cost, which may not be included in your project bid.
Submit digital plans to the NYC Department of Buildings HUB. Accelerate the plan review process for new buildings or major alterations that change a building’s egress by directing your licensed professional to submit digital plans to the NYC Department of Buildings HUB. Use the HUB.
A work permit and certificate to operate, and/or registration for boilers, water heaters and industrial equipment. To protect public air quality, businesses must get a work permit and certificate to operate, and/or registration for boilers, water heaters and industrial equipment. Please note that boilers, water heaters, and multiple dryers (for laundromats) must be registered with DEP only if they have a rated input of greater than 350,000 but less than 4.2 million BTUs/hour. Learn more about the Air Code.
Registration for Demolition. If your business intends to demolish a building or structure, you must obtain a Registration for Demolition from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection ten days before starting demolition activities. Learn more about the Registration for Demolition form.
Prepare to Open
Pre-operational inspections. Schedule your pre-operational inspections with the NYC Fire Department (FDNY). Schedule pre-operational inspections.
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.
Obtain Your Food Processing Establishment License. Obtain your food processing establishment license from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more about the food processing establishment license.
A Food Protection Certificate Holder. A Food Protection Certificate holder must supervise food and drink preparation on site during all hours of operation. Make sure you or at least one of your employees takes either an online class followed by an in-person test or takes a 5-day in-person class. The more employees with the food protection certificate, the more flexibility you have in staffing. Learn more about the Food Protection Certificate.
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.
Light Fuel, Such as Charcoal and Wood, Must Be Stored Carefully and in Small Amounts. Light fuel, such as charcoal and wood, must be stored carefully and in small amounts. Ingredients and equipment, such as alcohol and open flames, affect which permits and licenses you need.
Business Signs. Business signs, if nailed or screwed into the building or if illuminated, must be approved by NYC Department of Buildings. Learn more about signs.
Many Permit and Non-Permit Environmental Compliance Requirements. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has many permit and non-permit environmental compliance requirements. Learn more about DEP requirements.
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.
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 minimum wage for employees in New York City is $15.00 per hour. Home health aides have a higher minimum wage. 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. It'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 the correct licenses and required posters. Use the NYC Checklist for Required Signs for Restaurants and Bars to ensure you display the correct licenses and required posters.
Give customers clear receipts. Show prices and print your business name and address on your invoices and receipts.
Prepare and pay your taxes. Learn about taxes in NYC.
Properly label your products. Learn the federal labeling requirements and regulations that matter to your items. Read the food labeling guide.
For halal labeling. For halal labeling, you must register with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn about Halal food registration.
For kosher labeling. For kosher labeling, you must register with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn about Kosher food registration.
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.