Thinking About Starting a Business

Starting a business is a significant decision that involves planning, financing, and licensing and other legal activities. You may ask yourself these significant questions: What type of business? What business structure is advantageous to my venture? What makes an effective business plan? Where will the financing come from? What licenses, permits, and registrations are required by my state government? By the federal government? We have outlined six steps below to get you on your way.

If you are interested in operating certain alcohol or tobacco businesses, you must file with TTB an application for a permit and receive approval BEFORE engaging in business.

Refer to our industry startup tutorial to learn about the steps for starting a TTB-regulated business. Or, go to our Permits and Applications Web page if you are ready to start a business and only need to know about tax and license filing requirements.

1. Formulating Your Organization

2. Financing Your Business

  • Funding Options
    Map out your business financially. Use SBA's guide to learn what lenders are looking for, financing options, government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

3. Establishing Your Business

  • Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business
    Use this Internal Revenue Service (IRS) resource to help decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

4. Fulfilling Taxes and Licensing Requirements

  • Get a Tax Identification Number
    Learn which tax identification number or employer identification number you'll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Description: IMPORTANT

As of January 1, 2017, if you are the proprietor of a brewery, distilled spirits plant, or winery owing not more than $50,000 in excise taxes in the previous year, and you expect to owe not more than $50,000 in excise taxes in the current year on beer, distilled spirits, or wine, you may no longer be required to hold a bond.

In addition, if you owed not more than $1,000 in excise taxes the previous year and expect to owe not more than $1,000 in the current year, you will be eligible to file your excise taxes annually, rather than semi-monthly or quarterly.

The information in this tutorial may not reflect these changes. TTB will update it as soon as possible. In the meantime, please see our Bond and Filing Changes homepage for more details.
  • Obtain State Licenses and Permits
    Get a list of alcohol control board for state and local licenses and permits required for your alcohol or tobacco-related business.

5. Understanding Employer Responsibilities

6. Growing and Maintaining Your Business

  • Growing Your Business
    Use these resources from for the profitable and healthy growth of your business.

  • Maintaining Your Business
    See TTB resources especially for maintaining an alcohol or tobacco-related small business.

Specialized Groups Startup Resources

There are programs to assist startups, micro businesses, and underserved or disadvantaged groups. The following resources from SBA provide information to help specialized groups start their own businesses.

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Page last reviewed: November 7, 2016
Page last updated: December 30, 2016
Maintained by: Office of Communications

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