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Starting a Business in Pennsylvania

A complete step-by-step guide to start your business and get on the fast track to financial success.

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    Doing Business In Pennsylvania

    Business facts:

    At $815 billion, Pennsylvania has the sixth biggest economy in the U.S. and is home to close to 50 of the 1,000 largest public and private companies in the U.S. by sales. With top-caliber schools like Swarthmore, Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania based in the state, companies aim to take advantage of the local graduate pool. Companies are less enamored, however, with the following two assessments of the state: Pennsylvania is expected to have among the nation’s slowest population growth through 2023 and the state ranks poorly on fiscal health.

    Small business and Startup environment

    Pennsylvania has 927,369 small businesses, according to the most current federal data available. Of those 927,369 small businesses in Pennsylvania, 271,410 have employees. The remaining 655,959 are Pennsylvania small businesses that have no employees.

    Pennsylvania’s strong technology commercialization pipeline sets us apart from our competitors. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) is one of the nation’s longest-running technology-based economic development programs. With a track record spanning more than 30 years, BFTP provides early-stage businesses, tech-based firms, and established manufacturers with funding, business, and technical expertise.

    Major companies

    Pennsylvania is home to large companies such as: Aramark, Comcast, Keystone Foods, Ricoh, Genesis HealthCare, Universal Health Services, Rite Aid, Alcoa, UPMC, PNC

    STEPS TO STARTING A BUSINESS IN PENNSYLVANIA

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    Step 1: Choose A Business Structure

    The most common business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and a few different types of corporations—the standard corporation (often called a C corporation or “C corp”), the small business corporation (often called an S corporation or “S corp”), and the benefit corporation (often called a B corporation or “B corp”).

    The most common business structures are:

    Step 2: Choose The Right Business Name

    Choosing a business name is important, you want to make it easier for your customers to remember it, here are some tips:

    1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
    2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
    3. Conduct a thorough Internet search.
    4. Search and purchase a domain name.
    5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
    6. Conduct a trademark search.

    Step 3: Register Your Business

    Depending on the business structure you chose you will need to register your business.

    Pennsylvania Resale license 

    Pennsylvania Business Entity Search

    Step 4: Obtain an EIN Tax Number

    With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can’t hire employees or open a business bank account.

    Click Here to Apply for EIN number online

    Step 5: Open A Bank Account

    – Open a business bank account:

    • Separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
    • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

    – Get a business credit card:

    • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
    • Builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

    Step 6: Licenses & Permits

    Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).

    Here are some links for Pennsylvania Businesses:

    Selling products? Check Pennsylvania Resale Permit

    Business Licensing for the State of Pennsylvania

    Step 7: Branding & Marketing

    Your brand is the image customers have of your business, so it’s important to determine who is your audience and what is the message that you want to project. That way, your company’s image will be what you intend it to be. It should be strategic and intentional.

    Step 8: Establish a Web Presence

    Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms. A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action.

    In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

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