How to start a business in Pennsylvania

10 Simple Steps

STEP 1: TRULY PLAN YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

Write a Business PlanThe reason Yuengling & Son is the oldest brewing company in America, around since 1829, is because the beer’s amazing and they’ve enjoyed great management – where good planning begins. Your first step is to test your planning skills and see just how much you can get from your business idea. And don’t worry, these days there’s savvy-inexpensive software that can help make the process 10x more effective is far less time.

Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

STEP 2: CHOOSE BUSINESS STRUCTURE & REGISTER

How to Choose a Business StructureWith your initial plan laid out and viability levels through the roof, it’s time to protect yourself (house, car, etc) and empower your brand by choosing a legal structure and registering it with the state.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.

Take Action: Decide which business structure is right for you. After that, have one of these two reliable services form it for you: IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee).

STEP 3: SYNC WITH THE PENNSYLVANIA TAX CODE

Small Business TaxesAfter creating a legal structure and registering your brand name with the state, the next step is establishing your brand’s tax identity. Typically this involves all the basics, including getting your ID number, sourcing the correct forms, etc. Relax, this is easy stuff.Just be sure to do your homework and take advantage of the resource below.

Take Action: If you’re Lone Rangering this, bookmark the PA Dept. of Revenue’s e-Services Center page for businesses.

STEP 4: OBTAIN PROPER LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesUnlike the complexities involved in trying to track a single fire fly at night amidst small armies of the beautiful insects, figuring out which licenses you need is pretty simple. PA is very business-friendly which is why so many of their companies are the oldest in America, like The Moravian Book Shop,  Shankweiler’s Drive-in, Zippos, C.F. Martin Guitars, and on and on.

  1. For DYI’ers head over to the City of Philadelphia’s Find a License or Permit page where you can find what you need to be compliant.
  2. If you need help with this step, there is a Business License Service we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

STEP 5: CREATE A DEDICATED BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountIn this simple step, just pick a solid banking institution and set up dedicated business accounts for your brand…completely separate from personal accounts of any kind. Leverage those incentives, and then all that’s left is to connecting your accounting software. After that the company’s financial foundation will have officially begun begin its journey.

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STEP 6: PICK A STELLAR PENNSYLVANIA LOCATION

How to Choose a Business LocationFrom Franklin Park and the area around Upper St. Clair, to the endless bustle of Pittsburgh, Allentown or Erie, what a wonderful place to set up shop. So much history and heritage, in every nook and cranny, you’ll love it.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

STEP 7: FINANCE/BOOTSTRAP YOUR BUSINESS

How to Finance a BusinessWith all the online options to raise capital without much if any debt or high interest rates (CrowdFunding, Social Lending, etc.) set to one side, inside her borders you’ll also have access to small armies of entrepreneurs, startup groups, VC networks, angel investment funds, county/state-level programs, and more! Don’t be shy.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like deep dish and beer. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

STEP 8: DESIGN & PUBLISH A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteOther than the Amish folk, just about everyone else in Pennsylvania expects your brand to have its own digital presence. Without one it’s going to be hard to take you seriously. Maybe all you need is a simple one-pager, maybe a sleek and simple ecommerce design? Just make sure there’s a way for potential customers to learn more about your business!

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department the first step is finding the right platform. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.

STEP 9: MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Social Media ChannelNext time you think about digital marketing and use it to expand the reach of your products and services, remember that the first computer ever used was in Philadelphia, 1946. Pretty neat huh? The point here is that you should never cease getting out there and networking with the people. In many respects Pennsylvania is one of the beating hearts of American capitalism.

Take Action: Wherever you open your doors, start local. Begin generating buzz as close to home as you can. Get involved with your ideal customer’s lives and make yourself known through real contact vs. vapid internet methods before a relationship has been formed.

STEP 10: CONTINUE LEARNING & STAY INSPIRED

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsLast but not least, moving forward after you’ve done all that it’s about staying on top of your knowledge-base and skill sets, and keeping yourself/your team motivated.

Take Action: Consider adding Startup Savant to your toolkit of reliable resources because if anyone knows and understands what you’re going through it’s our community. See for yourself by following us Facebook and Twitter for daily interviews with fellow change-makers.

Pennsylvania Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Pennsylvania, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options
And

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options