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Do I have to obtain a business license and register with the state before starting my business?

Williamstown, NJ |

I am starting an online site and have checked the state requirements which are obtaining a business license and registration. I am not sure if the company will be profitable. Can I start the company and then apply for the license after the fact?

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Attorney answers 5


Whether you would be in violation of state code by operating the business without the proper compliance really depends.

When you set up an entity in NJ you apply and register with tax and finance at the same time. Here, the state will be told what the nature of your business consists of, etc. Beyond that, and in some industries, you may be required to obtain additional permits, but there is no way for any of us to know without understanding exactly what you are doing in the context of state requirements. Further, even municipalities may have some compliance as well.

I highly doubt that you have much more to think about if this is just an online ecommerce type venture unless you are selling highly regulated goods.

I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC

DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.


I agree with my colleague. In addition, if you plan to have employees at the start of your business, you should register as soon as possible, and consult with an accountant familiar with required state withholdings for taxes, workers' comp, etc. And don't assume that you can start with all contract employees (1099 workers) and be safe. NJ has its own definition of who is an employee and who is not, and it does not turn simply on the fact that you call them an "independent contractor" in an agreement.

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Messrs Natoli and Mack are spot on. Consult with a lawyer and a CPA to make sure your I's are dotted and your T's are crossed.

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First, you should have your tax and business lawyer review your proposed business. Most likely, a Limited Liability Company would be the best form of entity. NJ is very difficult with Sales and Use Tax as well as regulation, and you and your attorney may select another State.

Please do not start operating as a sole proprietor. You are putting all of you assets at risk!

I hope this helps.

Ron Cappuccio

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