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Step By Step

So you're thinking about starting a business or - even better - actually STARTING a business. Use the chart below to navigate the steps you need to take and the resources that can help you along the way and then contact us if we can be of specific assistance.

Additional help can be found at the Small Business Administration's (SBA) website and through the State of Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development's checklist for starting a business.

Start-Up Business Flowchart

Box 1

Need an idea for a business? Try some of these resources:

- Interested in technology? Take a look at Technology Transfer

- Consider purchasing a franchise

- Want to team up with an inventor or other founder? Check out partnership meet-ups such as CoFoundersLab or see the areas newest startups at one of our monthly Columbia Tech Breakfast events



Steps and considerations in choosing your business name

Verify you're not violating another trademark by searching the US Trademark Database

Register your trade name in Maryland

Optional: Research and file a trademark for your business in Maryland and / or at the national level



Considerations for choosing your legal structure (Note: consult with an attorney or accountant for professional insight on the best legal structure for your business based on your plans and goals). Additional articles for choosing your legal structure:

Choose Your Business Structure (Entrepreneur Magazine article)

Should your business be an LLC or an S-Corp? and How to Incorporate (Inc Magazine articles)

File your Articles of Incorporation with the State of Maryland

Learn about and obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number

Register with the State of Maryland for income and personal property taxes (can also register for payrol witholding through same link)



The SBA website provides a thorough checklist for getting set up to hire your first employee and setting up your payroll system

Investigate and obtain Workman's Compensation insurance.

Make sure when you registeted with the State of Maryland you signed up for income tax witholding.

If you want help in issuing your payroll and making sure your taxes get paid, considering using a Payroll Service. The SBA website provides insights but make sure you compare several company's services and pricing before selecting one. Your best bet is to ask for referrals from business owners you know!

Next Steps:

  1. Verify you have any required licenses and permits (Note: Businesses - INCLUDING HOME BASED BUSINESSES - may also be subject to zoning restrictions at the County Level. Check with the Howard County Planning and Zoning Department to validate if this applies to your business).
  2. Make sure you have a good PLAN. Our Business Resource Center can help you with that.
  3. Explore options for locating your business in Howard County.
  4. Check out programs and services offered and funding options  available to help you start and grow your business.
  5. Be successful and let us feature you as a success story!

Other Considerations  and Resources:

Step By Step

Let's get your business started! This step-by-step guide will show you how.

Licensing & Permits

Certain businesses and specific activities may require a license and/or permit. Find out if your business needs a special permit to operate.