I want to start a business in Boulder. How do I get started?
Here are some of the first steps to add to your "to-do list":
- Find a location and make sure the zoning for that location allows your type of business.
- Apply for a business license / sales tax license.
- If you will be selling alcohol, you will need a liquor license.
- Apply for building permit and/or a sign permit if needed to remodel your location.
- If you are starting a small business and need assistance with writing a business plan, setting up your business entity, legal questions, and financing, contact the Boulder Small Business Development Center.
For small businesses, the Boulder Small Business Development Center has years of experience helping small businesses succeed. The Boulder SBDC provides counseling from over 40 experts and business counseling services are always provided free of charge to businesses and entrepreneurs. SBDC Workshops include "Start-up Essentials."
Do I need a business license or other special license?
You will need a business/sales tax license:
- if your business is located in the City of Boulder
- if you are a business delivering goods and services into the City of Boulder.
There are also several types of miscellaneous business licenses needed for businesses such as "door to door sales," pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers. For more information, view the Business Licensing Questions.
Where can I locate my business?
Boulder's zoning laws specify types of business uses allowed at specific locations. Each property is in a designated zoning district and each zoning district lists the allowed uses for that district. Some types of business uses or those with certain operating characteristics are only allowed with a public review process such as "use review." Email a Project Specialist in the Planning & Development Services Center or call 303-441-1880 to learn more about zoning districts and to confirm that your proposed business use is allowed before signing a lease or purchasing a property. You can also visit the Services Center at 1739 Broadway on the third floor.
Can I run my business out of my home?
Home occupations are allowed in Boulder as long the business meets certain standards. The main requirements are that no employees may work for the business except for those who live in the home, traffic may not exceed the level expected for a residence, and no business signs may be displayed. Please submit a completed home occupation form with your business license application.
How do I know what taxes my business must pay?
- If your business is located in the City of Boulder, you need to collect and remit sales tax and use tax. If you are an outside business and created "nexus," you need to license and collect and remit sales tax.
- If you deliver goods to another city, please check with that city for licensing requirements.
- Your business may be subject to other taxes such as food service, accommodations or admissions tax depending on your business type.
How do I get a liquor license?
Visit the Liquor License page for details.
Do I need a building permit?
Visit the Building Permits page for details.
Can I sell my product from a cart or vehicle?
Visit the Mobile Food Vehicles page for details.
Can I sell my product on the Pearl Street Mall?
Visit the Pearl Street/University Hill Vending Cart Information page for details.
Where can I get information on how to "green" my business?
There are a variety of programs and resources that are available for energy efficiency, renewable energy, composting and recycling with Local Environmental Action Division (LEAD). City staff in LEAD are available to help you find the right options for your business, from solar rebates to energy assessments.
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