Start a Business

Small businesses are the heart of the American economy, comprising 98 percent of all businesses in New York and employing more than half of New York’s private sector workforce. Innovation, creativity, determination and perseverance are just a few of the essential qualities small business owners demonstrate every day.

The requirements to start a small business may vary depending on the type of business but the following steps can be used as a guideline:

Step 1. Gather Information

Empire State Development has developed a resource guide to help you start your small business. Download "A Guide to Owning and Operating a Small Business in New York State."  A great guide to understand and learn all of the aspects of becoming a business owner

Step 2. Create a Business Plan

Many businesses fail without a well thought-out business plan and most banks will require that you have one before being considered for a loan. The Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism can assist you with writing your business plan. The SCORE program provides low and no-cost assistance in the creation of business plans. You can also find assistance from the New York State Small Business Development Centers. Sample business plans may be downloaded for free from

Step 3. Determine Business Legal Structure

There are many structures a business can take in New York State such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation or an Limited Liability Company.  Consult an attorney to determine the legal structure of your company.

Step 4. Determine a Business Name

If you have decided the legal structure will be a sole proprietorship, choose your name and register a “Doing Business As” or DBA certificate with the Cattaraugus County clerk’s office.   If you have chosen another legal structure for your business your attorney will file the business name with the NYS Dept. of State. There are several sites that can assist you, from the SBA at to Creative Marketing Solutions at Choose carefully because some sites may want money for assistance.

Step 5. Obtain Tax, Permit and License Information

Depending on what type of business you are starting there could be permits and licenses needed. Employers must register as an employer, pay taxes, withold, match and submit employee witholdings, obtain worker's compensation insurance and adhere to other regulations. For New York State and IRS requirements review the Taxes and Mandated Filings website. For permits and Licenses review this New York State website. Review the Business Permits and License section of this website.

The SBA also has a very valuable website to assist with the license and permits process. Enter your City/State or Zip Code, choose your business type and click on the search button.

Step 6. Zoning

Check with your local municipal town, vilage or city to check on any zoning before you rent or purchase and building. Every city and village in Cattaraugus County has zoning. View the Cattaraugus County zoning map for municipalities with zoning for the Towns that have zoning.

Step 7. Financing

Financing the initial expenditures is one of the most important steps in starting a business venture. Bring your business plan to your local bank or credit union to secure funding. Most financial institions will not consider a deal without it. Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Panning and Tourism will assistance with finding financing. For more loans and financing assistance click on the "Financing Loans" tab above.

Good luck in your business venture!