I am going to open up my own business, in which I will be the proud owner of Tattoo’s Anonymous. My business will provide tattooing services. My clientele will be above the age of majority (18+). Tattoos Anonymous will operate Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. To start my business, I will be acquiring the necessary funding from a small business loan pending approval. This loan will help me acquire the equipment and supplies I will need to operate within the 1000 square foot space I plan to provide tattooing services. My business will operate as a sole proprietorship, in which I will own and operate with no employees at this time. If successful, I may, in the near future look to add an employee. The property I am hoping to purchase for my business is located at 1010 State St. Erie, PA 16502.
To start a business anywhere, there are a lot of different things involved such as licensing, permits, etc. It is important to conduct thorough research prior to starting a business, as it is not as simple as one may think. One of the first steps I did was to sit down and add up any of the startup costs as recommended by a report put out by the Governor’s office (Dced.pa.gov p. 12). This way I could create a plan and have a good idea as to how much money I would need to get started. I then projected my monthly operation costs to gauge how practical this venture would be (Dced.pa.gov p. 13). I strongly believe by doing these two things and doing a ton of research prior to opening up a small business may be the difference maker between success and failure.
Researching where I would like to open my business is where most of my initial time was spent. There are many factors to think about when choosing the location such as parking because some people may hate feeding a meter, or the neighborhood the business is in might have a high crime rate. Therefore, choosing the location might be one of the most important steps in starting your own business. Obviously, there is no way to foresee everything that may become a problem, but doing my due diligence hopefully will pay off in the long run.
The location yet again plays another huge role in operating a business. Each city has different zoning regulations, which dictate what types of business are allowed to operate in certain areas. Once I was satisfied with a location, I then had to make sure it was zoned properly otherwise I would have to start all over. In order to accomplish this, I went to the Erie County Zoning Departments website (erie.pa.us). On the website I was able to view a zoning map for the City of Erie from the year 2017 as well as the contact information if I had any further questions.
After spending several days and hours on searching for the right location I then had another daunting task to handle. I thought for quite some time about my business name because I wanted it to sound professional as well as unique. In Pennsylvania, this step is very important because under the Pennsylvania Fictitious Name Statute you must file your business name with the Department of State (eriebar).
Some may choose not to register their business name with the Department of State, but I did because the penalties can be dire for not doing so. By not registering the business name, some contracts entered may or may not be enforced which could come back to bite me in the rear (Dced.pa.gov p. 20). Skipping this step could save some time and money, but the consequences are not worth it.
Once I filed my business name, I was under the impression I had the sole rights to the name, however I was wrong. To obtain the rights to my business name, I need to file for a trademark. Otherwise I will not have any protection regarding the business name (eriebar). After learning there was yet another step to obtain the rights to my business name I decided not to go ahead with the trademark process. This step won’t be necessary for my business since I only intend to operate a small local business. However, if I had plans to branch out and become a bigger business, then I would take the steps to secure a trademark. In order to begin the trademark process, I would have to file an application with the U.S. Patent Office (uspto.gov).
I also learned that if you want to operate a tattoo shop in the city of Erie, you’re required to take yet another step to comply with local/city ordinances (eriecountypa.gov). Prior to opening, I had to schedule an inspection by the Health Department to obtain a license to operate a body art establishment. This type of license and inspection pertain strictly to body art shops. The license and inspection need to be renewed yearly to ensure compliance with health standards. The regulations are very specific, and they give detailed instructions on how the business should conduct itself in terms of cleanliness and safety for health reasons. Prior to purchasing a property, I needed to make sure I met the requirements for this health inspection. The main point of this inspection is to ensure there is water, sewer, and a clean work environment.
In order to operate a business, I also had to apply for an Employee Identification Number through the IRS for Tax purposes (eriebar). The EIN can be obtained by a quick application on the IRS website (irs.gov). The EIN I obtained from the IRS will also be used to help me establish my business bank account, which is required by most banks (dced.pa.gov). This step is very important because the legality of my business could have become an issue if I did not follow Federal and State tax regulations.
As a small business owner in Pennsylvania, I am only required to carry Workers Compensation insurance if I have employees. Since I will not be employing anyone at this time I do not need this coverage. In the future if I need this coverage I could get the information by contacting the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (eriebar). They will then send me a form to complete and mail back which would start the process (dced.pa.gov). This type of insurance is only required if you have employees to ensure any work-related accidents will be covered (eriebar).
Thankfully tattoos are not subject to sales tax in the State of Pennsylvania. They are in many others. If tattoos were taxed, I’d collect taxes on all of the sales and then pay them directly to the Department of Revenue. Before I could collect taxes and eventually pay them to the Department of Revenue, I would first have to obtain a Sales and Use Tax License from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (eriebar). The application is online and can be found directly on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s website (pa100.state.pa.us).
To protect my business investment, as well as my own personal finances, I purchased a general liability insurance policy which will cover claims for damages to my business property. (nationwide.com/general). If anything financially were to suddenly change with my business, this insurance will give me some financial protection. While general liability insurance is not required, anything could happen at a moment’s notice and I would rather have protection just in case.
As in any business, for it to flourish and succeed, customers are needed to generate business profit. Therefore, it is crucial that potential clientele have a way to get information about my tattooing services establishment as well as contact the business. I will be contacting the phone company to set up a business landline with multiple lines as well as have a presence in social media. Tattoo’s Anonymous will have its own Facebook page as well as an Instagram account to promote business and advertise work done for satisfied customers. The store front window will also display a business logo, as well as hours of operation and business phone number to give the shop the professional appearance it needs (pasbdc.org).
As discussed, there are many steps involved when deciding to open a business in Erie, PA. It requires thorough research for a profitable potential business, as well as following city and state requirements to operate a legal business. The steps will vary depending on the business type, but many will remain the same
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