• Business License & Name Reservations

    If you are planning a pet grooming business in your home, do NOT assume you do not need a business license. In fact, do not assume it is legal to have one in the home, even if someone else in your community is operating one. If they are, it likely is okay, but you must be certain. Regardless of whether you intend to open a home, mobile van or commercial location pet grooming business, personally make the trip down to the city or town hall, including the county offices, for those towns or cities where you will be providing services. If applicable, ask if a home occupation permit (or similarly named document) is required when you locate your office in your home.

    Describe your business and where it will be operating, and ask if you need a business license. Ask what other business requirements apply to you. For example, some local and county governments have regulations for advertising your business on your mobile van. Really! If you are operating in your home, you are increasing traffic in your neighborhood and there may be regulations that apply to you. Some cities have special taxes in addition to state or federal taxes. For example, in San Francisco there is a "business tax" based on your payroll collected by the city. Ordinarily, states don't require a special permit for a pet grooming business, but ask!

    Business licensing varies by state. Asking what others do in another state is only good for conversation. To cover the bases you need to ensure what type of licenses are required for businesses in your state of residence. The possibilities are:

    1) Local business license is required for businesses in incorporated areas within a city, town or county.
    2) State business license.
    3) Both #1 and #2.

    Mobile groomers may need multiple licenses from the jurisdictions in which they actually provide the services hands-on. For example, if they serve 3 counties, they may need a license (or other form of permission) to work in that county as a self-employed person. The rules may vary. In some states it could a city license versus a county license. Investigate the requirements with the local government(s) in the areas you will serve as a mobile groomer.

    Your town, city or county hall can be very helpful, but don't overlook the assistance provided by your local Chamber of Commerce. In fact, if you are relocating to a new area to start your business, or in the future you move to a new area, call the local Chamber of Commerce representing the area where you are moving to, and ask for a "new business package." They may charge you a few dollars but the information is often very helpful including demographic projections, assistance programs for new businesses and many other support resources. We've seen some Chamber of Commerce packages with household pet information. Now that is a sign of a progressive community with concern for professional pet care and responsible pet ownership!

    You may have to file your business' "assumed" or "fictitious" name within your county and state. Generally the public has the right to know who the owner(s) is of any business. When you investigate business license requirements, ask about filings for a fictitious name too. If your business name is simply, Sherrill Smith, Pet Groomer and you are the only owner, you probably won't need to file a fictitious statement, but if you operate as Sherrill's Barking Lot, you will. The filing procedure is typically very simple. Don't overlook it though. Be aware that banks do not open commercial business accounts without documentation that you have properly filed the business name with the local or state government, and if you form an organization, they will require additional documentation, such as "Articles of Incorporation."

    During the filing process you should be able to learn if someone else is already using the business name you desire. Sometimes a business may not be operating yet the business is already reserved. There are statute of limitations that apply to name reservations when the business is not in active operation. Seek professional assistance for a determination. Don't forget that you may have to renew your fictitious name statement after a specified time.

    Generally sole proprietor business names are reserved at a county level when not forming an organization, such as a corporation or limited liability company/ The procedure is to file a fictitious name statement. You may have heard the abbreviated term, "DBA" for "doing business as."

    Generally, when forming an organization such as a corporation or limited liability company, you may not have to file a local fictitious name statement. Organizations are created with your state government and your business name must be unique within the state instead of locally. Once again, seek professional assistance with an attorney or CPA familiar with small business. Most states allow you to search company name records of organizations through the office of the Secretary of State. You may be able to do that online today.