How to Start a Retail Business in Pennsylvania

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Retail businesses offer a range of goods and services from food, auto parts, apparel, home furnishings, appliances and electronics to home improvement, advice and skilled labor. To start a retail business, you need to identify your strengths, the requirements and preferences in Pennsylvania, the type of retailing and the products you’ll include in your retail business. Pennsylvania offers a lot of assistance and resources to new business looking to start or expand their operation.

Choose a location for your retail business based on customer preferences. The retail location in Pennsylvania should be easy to reach. Check the area zoning laws, since this can change based on your county as well.

Write a business plan to help you to better understand and organize your business for the long term. You can also use the business plan as a presentation to a financial institution for funding. Include your business overview, market research of the business climate in the retail industry in Pennsylvania and details of your competitors, a marketing plan showing how you will advertise and promote your business and attract customers, background information about you, your key employees and partners, pro forma financial statements and contracts or legal documents, if any.

Choose a fictitious business name and get it registered. For further details, contact the PA Department of State’s Corporation Bureau or their website under the “resources” section of this article.

Choose the legal structure of the business such as sole proprietor, partnership or limited liability corporations. Register your business with the Pennsylvania. Contact Corporation Bureau, PA Department of State, 206 North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or call 717-787-1057 or visit their website for details.

Visit Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue website or call the Tax Payer service and Information Center at 717-787-1064 to identify the current tax rates under each legal structure.

Obtain the Individual Tax Payer Identification Number (ITIN) and Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business through the IRS website and filling Form W-7 and Form SS-4 respectively.

Register with the state for more tax-specific identification numbers such as licenses or permits, to income tax withholding, seller’s permit and unemployment insurance tax. In case of selling any food in the retail store, get a license to serve food from the Pennsylvania health department.

Get business licenses and permits related to your retail business by completing a paper PA Enterprise Regulation Form or PA-100 or register online.

Hire employees, if necessary. Do a background check on the employees before you hire them and confirm their clean records. As an employer, you will have to comply with employee eligibility verification, withholding income taxes, new hire reporting, insurance requirements and workplace poster requirements.

Market your business locally and keep yourself informed of any new developments in your industry.

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About the Author

Alexander Cequea has been writing since 2008. He is an activist, speaker and film producer whose work has been featured in "Enlightennext Magazine" and the Environmental News Network. Cequea is currently producing a documentary about sustainability and consciousness. He has a Master of Business Administration in sustainable business from Maharashi University.

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