Where can I get
federal and state tax identification numbers?
Sole proprietorships without employees
can use the proprietor's social security number as a
business identification number. It may, however, be
advantageous for a sole proprietorship to have an
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Partnerships and corporations with or without employees,
and sole proprietors with employees, must obtain an
Employer Identification Number (EIN) (Form SS-4) from
the IRS. The form can be obtained from the IRS at
Partnerships and corporations with or without employees,
and sole proprietors with employees, must register their
business with the Department of Revenue. This can only
be done online by going to
www.mass.gov and registering as a new business.
Further information can be obtained at Massachusetts
Department of Revenue's website at
Where can I find an
Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is one of
the largest referral services of its kind in the nation.
Since its inception in 1974, the MBA LRS has helped
thousands of people find the resources they need to
solve their legal problems. Unlike for-profit referral
agencies, the LRS is a public service program
dedicated to directing callers to the most appropriate
resources. Visit their website at
Where can I find the
laws, requirements and regulations for Workers' Comp
All Massachusetts employers are required by state law to carry
workers' compensation insurance covering their
employees, including themselves if they are an employee
of their company. This requirement applies regardless of
the number of hours worked in any given week, except
that domestic service employees must work a minimum of
16 hours per week in order to require coverage.
information, contact the Massachusetts Department of
Industrial Accidents at
or call 617-727-4900.
What qualifies a
business as a "small business"?
The Small Business
Act states that a small business concern is "one that is
independently owned and operated and which is not
dominant in its field of operation." The law also states
that in determining what constitutes a small business,
the definition will vary from industry to industry to
reflect industry differences accurately.
In general, according the U.S. Small Business
Administration, the following are considered small
- Wholesale Trade: 100 employees or less
- Manufacturing and Mining Industry: 500 employees or less
- Retail/Service Industry: $6 million or less in sales
- General and Heavy Duty Construction Industry:
$28.5 million or less in sales
- Special Trade Contractors: $12 million or less in sales
- Agriculture Industry: $.75 million or less in sales
What are the
laws regarding wages/hours/benefits for employees?
Contact the Massachusetts Department of Occupational
Massachusetts employers are subject to both the federal
and state minimum wage and overtime laws. For
information about federal minimum wage and overtime
laws, visit the Department of Labor's website at
In an effort to
ensure fair competition and to ensure workers' rights
are protected, the Attorney General both enforces the
law and works to help Massachusetts employers understand
their rights and responsibilities. Visit
www.ago.state.ma.us for further information or
contact the AGO Fair
Labor and Business Practices Hotline Phone Numbers
Where can I find assistance for a
The SBDC does not provide services
to nonprofit organizations, but the following resources
can provide assistance.
The Executive Service Corp of New
works with nonprofit organizations to improve their
effectiveness by providing affordable management
consulting and related services.
ESC works with
the nonprofit community on a variety of issues ranging
from board development to strategic planning.
Visit their website at
www.escne.org or call 617-357-5550
Information is available from Associated Grant Makers'
or call 617-426-2606.
What is a DBA Certificate and where do I
A business certificate is the
registration of a business. It is commonly referred to
as a " DBA" or "Doing Business As" certificate. Its
purpose is primarily for consumer protection and public
information. Essentially, it creates a public record of
the name and address of the owner of a business.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 110, §5 states that
any person conducting business under any title or
business name other than the real name of the person
conducting the business must file a certificate. A
person is defined as an individual, a partnership, or a
corporation. Forms for filing are available in the town
clerk’s office where the business is to be located.
How do I become a
federal/state government vendor?
Through the Procurement Technical
Assistance Center (PTAC), a specialty counseling center
of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
Network, clients subscribe to a free
bid-matching service, which informs them daily of
federal, state and municipal bidding opportunities
matching their specific product and service profiles.
After identifying a specific bid, clients may draw on a
wealth of technical assistance to prepare their
proposals. If successful, PTAC provides assistance in
post-award contract administration. Visit PTAC's website
Please note: To be eligible for this program, companies
must have been in business for at least two years.
taxes are required for my business?
Once you start your business, you will
have to start paying certain taxes to both the federal
government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The
specific taxes you are required to pay or remit depend
on your type of business. The Massachusetts Department
of Revenue provides a comprehensive online guide,
Guide to Massachusetts Tax and Employer Obligations,
and also offers small business workshops. Visit
for further information.
For information on federal IRS regulations, visit the
Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.
How do I
register my business name?
or entity may register the business name, trademark or
service mark with the Massachusetts Secretary of State's
Office. A form may be obtained by visiting
www.mass.gov/sec/cor or calling 617-727-2850.
The completed form, along with the $50 filing
fee, should be sent to the
State’s Office in Boston. Trademarks and service
marks are renewable every ten years.
Once I’ve chosen the name for my
business, how do I find out if anyone else is using it?
The Secretary of
State’s office will do a name search for Massachusetts
only. For further information, visit
www.mass.gov/sec/cor or call 617-727-2850.
The University of
Massachusetts Amherst Physical Sciences & Engineering
Library will do searches for federal trademarks. Call
413-545-1370 and ask for a reference librarian.
What is a
is a separate legal entity that exists under the
authority granted by state law. A corporation has
substantially all of the legal rights of an individual
and is responsible for its own debts .It must also file
income tax returns and pay taxes on income it derives
from its operations. Typically, the owners or
shareholders of a corporation are protected from the
liabilities of the business. However, when a corporation
is small, creditors often require personal guarantees of
the principal owners before extending credit. The legal
protection afforded the owners of a corporation can far
outweigh the additional expense of starting and
administering a corporation.
The owners and employees also pay taxes separately
from the corporation. For more information, visit
How do I
obtain health insurance?
SBDC write my business plan for me?
SBDC will not write your business plan for you, we will
provide the guidance needed to write the plan and can
help fine-tune your plan.
How much money will I need to start a
business plan is a good way to determine the answer to
this question. The detailed analysis of expenses and
income will enable you to test the feasibility of the
business, the breakeven point, and the potential
profitability of the business before making a financial
What insurance should I carry for my
aspect of your business is a well-planned insurance
program. Types of insurance you should consider are:
Product Liability Insurance
Business Interruption Insurance
Can you help
me obtain small business grants?
Unfortunately, for most companies in Massachusetts,
there are no small business grants. That is, there are
no grants available for start up costs, operating or
other typical small business expenses for companies
which are not “non-profit” or charitable organizations.
Most grants are given by foundations or government
agencies to provide money for charitable or social
purposes and they are typically only given to
organizations which have specific “non-profit” status
[typically 501(c)(3)]. This automatically excludes the
majority of businesses which are operated for a profit,
regardless of race or gender.
However, there are two exceptions for specific grants
for which a small business could be eligible. The first
is called an SBIR or Small Business Innovative Research
grant. To qualify for this type of grant a small
business needs to have a unique technology which an
agency of the government has an interest in developing
through advanced research. This program requires a
company to have qualified academic researchers and
industry experts on its staff. Additional information on
SBIR can be found at
second type of grant is a Workforce Training Grant. This
grant is available to existing small businesses that
need to train their workforce to better perform their
jobs. It is a fifty-fifty match between funds that the
company puts up and funds that are available from the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Additional information on
Workforce Training grants can be found at
There are other agencies that also offer grants. For
federal grant information, visit
Massachusetts grants, go to
www.mass.gov and type
'grants' in the search field. For non-profit
organizations, grant information is available in the
library section of the Associated Grant Makers' website
www.agmconnect.org. The U.S. Small Business
Administration's website at
information on 'loans & grants'.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not offer
grants or free money to start or expand small
businesses. Although there are some grants available,
they generally are targeted towards specific groups,
types of organizations or activities. SBA does offer a
wide variety of loan programs (visit
www.sba.gov/financing for more information).
can contact Associated Grant Makers at
for information on grants.
Financing for a small business can often be a confusing
and difficult process. The SBDC can provide valuable
information that will dispel many of the myths about
free money and grants, and help individuals position
themselves to start or grow a successful small business
I'm thinking of buying a business.
How do I know if it's overpriced and if
earn a living at this?
Get copies of the
seller's tax records for the last three years, details
of the sale and meet with an SBDC business advisor as soon as
possible. The advisor can help you value the business
and look at how the expenses may change under your