Vend retail guide

How to start a retail business from scratch:
a step-by-step guide to retail success.

A comprehensive guide for getting a retail business up and running —
even if you have no experience and no idea where to start.

Step 5: Comply with the laws, rules, and regulations in your area

Discussing business regulations, licenses, and taxation can be tricky because these things vary depending on your location and type of business. The laws for specialty retailers are quite different from those for food retailers. And a retail store in say, New York would face different regulations from the ones that a business in London would face.

Generally speaking though, here’s a list of things you should think about:

a. Business structure

Are you a sole proprietor, a corporation, or a limited liability company? Different taxation laws and permits are required for each business type so figure this one out early on.

b. Federal Tax ID

Also known as an Employer Identification Number, a Federal Tax ID is used to identify a business entity.

c. D-U-N-S number

This is a unique, nine-digit ID for each physical location of your business.

d. Licenses, permits, and certificates

If you’re in retail you’ll need a business license and a seller’s permit. In addition, you may also need the following:

  • Resale Certificate
  • Health Permit
  • Fire Department Permit
  • Certificate of Occupancy
  • Building Construction Permit
  • Zoning and Land Use Permits
  • Sign Permit
  • Air and Water Pollution Control Permit

e. OSHA Bulletins

You may be mandated to post certain bulletins in your location to inform internal staff and the public of significant occupational safety and health issues.

f. Business organizations / government assistance

  • Consumer protection
  • Privacy
  • Retail pricing
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Employment laws
  • Trading hours
  • Safety
  • Labeling and packaging

Note: While it’s ok to ask other retailers about the hoops they had jump through, don’t rely on their words alone. The most trusted source of information would still be your government, so visit the necessary federal, state, and city offices or websites and obtain the requirements for setting up a retail store in your area.

Action Steps:

Time required: Varies, depending on the location and nature of the business

Materials: Your favorite note-taking device (smartphone, pen & paper, etc.), phone, computer, calculator, mode of transport.

  • Visit the the necessary government websites/offices and grab a list of the permits, fees, laws etc required to get your business off the ground.
  • Some government offices make it easier for you by providing checklists, contact lists, and pricing sheets so get copies of these documents if they’re available.
  • Get in touch with the people who can help you comply with the requirements for your business. They can include accountants, contractors, government officials, etc.