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Washington State Franchise Laws

How to Open a Small Business in Washington State (including Franchises)

Many people dream of owing their own business, but starting a business can be an intimidating and complicated process. Starting a business requires planning and foresight. There are many forms and applications to fill out before you can obtain the licenses you need to open your own business.

However, much of the application process in Washington state has been consolidated into the Master Business Application, and a number of agencies are willing to help. There are also online resources that will take you through each step of starting your own business in the state.


					1.	Plan out the basics of your business. Determine what you will sell, do or provide with your business, as 
						well as where and when you will start it.

					2.	Determine the structure of your business. There are many types of business structures, the simplest being 
						sole proprietorship, a business run by one person or a married couple. Partnerships involve two or more 
						people who share in the profits, debts and responsibilities of the business. More complex businesses 
						include corporations, limited liability corporations or trusts.

					3.	Name your business. Check with the Master License Service Database, the Department of Revenue, the 
						Secretary of State Corporations Registration Data Search, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Commis
				`		sion to see if your business name has already been used.

					4.	Fill out and file the required business license forms. Determine what forms you will need by calling the 
						Business Licensing Guide or visiting the website. Many businesses will only need to fill out and file a 
						Master Business Application.

					5.	If you are starting a corporation, LLC, limited partnership or limited liability partnership, you will need to 
						file your business with the Washington secretary of state before filing the Master Business Application.

					6.	Some businesses---with examples including tobacco and egg sellers, and whitewater rafting outfitters-
						-require special licenses. You will need to file your specialty license forms with your Master Business 
						Application after you have filed your business with the secretary of state.

					7.	If you plan to hire employees, indicate in your Master Business Application that you need to open an 
						account for workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. If you plan to hire minors, apply for a 
						Minor Work Permit with your Master Business Application.

					8.	Apply for a business license with your city and county. Some cities allow you to do this with your Master 
						Business Application.

					9.	You may need to file for environmental permits. The Office of Regulatory Assistance runs a website that 
						will help you determine what you need.

Tips & Warnings

Hire a lawyer or accountant, or consult a financial, business or legal adviser to help you create your business structure and file for licenses.

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