Checklist Overview

Everything you need to do to start a business.

Before You Begin

  • Contact SBDC
  • See the resources the Small Business Administration has to offer
  • Get a mentor through SCORE
  • Visit Onondaga County Public Library
  • Come up with a plan for getting family support

Legal Requirements

  • Figure out if I need a business license
  • Contact Onondaga County for DBA's, Health Permits, and Plumbing Permits
  • Check out the New York State Business Portal

Business Plan

  • Learn about business plans
  • Contact SBDC about their business plan class

Business Finance

  • Calculate your finances
  • Create a financial plan with help from SBDC
  • Learn about other resources, like loans and grants

Business Site Types

  • Learn about zoning
  • Investigate whether my site is zoned for my business
  • Check out other businesses in the area
  • Apply for eligible property tax exemptions

Hiring Employees

  • Get clear on who is an employee in my business
  • Get familiar with the I-9 and W-4 forms
  • Contact the New York State Department of Labor for help

Marketing your Business

  • Learn about marketing plans
  • Learn about marketing platforms


  • Check out
  • Check out CenterStateCEO
  • Find out more about TNT

Zoning Check

  • Understand the effect zoning can have on my plans
  • Learn about limitations on historic properties and the historic review process

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)

  • Learn about BIDs
  • Decide if opening my business in a BID would be a good idea

Signing a Lease

  • Learn about what you and the landlord are each responsible for
  • Get help from SBDC, the Volunteer Lawyers Project, or the NYS Bar Association
  • You can also pay for help from a commercial real estate broker or real estate lawyer

Register your Business

  • Decide on a business structure
  • Learn about branding
  • Register your business name
  • File for your DBA, if required
  • Apply for an FEIN if you need one

Business Licenses and Permits

  • Figure out if I need a business permit from the City of Syracuse
  • Note my permit renewal date
  • Apply for a State seller's permit, if I need one
  • Apply for other licenses like a New York State Liquor License as needed
  • Display my licenses in a place where my customers can see them, as required

Plan Check

  • Understand whether I need stamped plans
  • Schedule a pre-development meeting if my project includes site work, building work, and right of way work
  • Prepare an Onondaga County Stormwater Management Plan, if required
  • Prepare a traffic study if my project will require it
  • Get a curb cut permit, if I will be making changes to the sidewalk during my project

Building and Right-of-Way Permits

  • Understand the differences between building permits and right-of-way permits
  • Understand why the City requires inspections, and how the process works

Sign Permits

  • Find out what you need to apply for a sign permit, including the fee
  • Learn about the Worker's Compensation requirement for contractors
  • Understand when you will need to have your sign inspected

Pay Business Taxes

  • Learn about the different types of business taxes
  • Find out about the types of expenses you can use to reduce your tax liability

Become a City Vendor

  • Learn what it takes to become a city vendor
  • Find out what it takes to qualify as a minority-owned business locally or with New York state

Find Resources

Review Your Plans

  • Revisit the steps from the Open section to maximize your growth

Do I need a business license?