Business Expansion Guide
1. Review Your Business Idea
Determine whether business ownership meets enough of your personal and professional goals to put the time and energy into researching the business idea’s viability. There are many organizations that have useful tools to help you review your business idea, including:
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC)
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
2. Review and Update Your Business Plan
Research and write a complete business plan. There are many resources available for this including:
3. Obtain Additional State Professional Licensing (As Needed)
Depending on your updated business plan, you may need to apply for the privilege of engaging in a specific, or additional, profession or occupation with the state of Vermont. To see a comprehensive list, visit:
- Professions licensed by the state of Vermont
- Professions licensed by the Office of the Secretary of State
4. Review and Change Your Current Business Structure (As Needed)
Also, you may review some or all of the options below to explore the the different choices that are available to you:
Script Corporations (a.k.a. “Sub-chapter S Corporation” or “S Corp.”) and Sole Proprietorships are not business structures, but are rather tax statuses:
- Script Corporation (Sub-chapter S Corporation" or "S Corp.")
This tax status may be applied to either Profit Corporations or Limited Liability Companies.
Please see IRS for more details at:
- Sole Proprietorship
This tax status may be applied to either Limited Liability Companies (LLC) or Trade Name (DBA) Registrations.
Please see the IRS for more details at:
5. Choose and Register a New Business Name (As Needed)
In order to legally begin doing business under a business name other than that of your current business name, you must first register your new business name with the secretary of state by either:
1. Changing your current business name:
Please Note: By amending your current business name, you will be relinquishing the legal authority to do business under your current name.
2. Adding one or more additional business names to do business under:
To add one or more business names for you or your business to do business under, you would do so by by using the Trade Name (DBA) Registration. Please see our "Trade Name (DBA)" page for details.
Please Note: By registering one or more additional business names, you will retain the authority to do business under your current business name.
6. Update Employer ID Number (Federal and State EINs) Registrations (As Needed)
Federal Employer ID Number (EIN)
Partnerships and corporations, with or without employees, must obtain an employer identification number. Complete and return Form SS-4 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Call 800-829-4933 or visit www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-to-Apply-for-an-EIN for more information.
State Employer ID Number (SEIN)
Please contact the Vermont Department of Taxes for more information. Call 802-828-2551 or visit www.state.vt.us/tax/business.shtml.
7. Register or Update Registration for Unemployment and Workers Compensation (As Needed)
For information on unemployment compensation, workers compensation, the regulation of wages and hours, Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Act rules, and State Labor Relations Act provisions; visit http://labor.vermont.gov or call:
- Department of Labor: 802-828-2288
- Worker’s Compensation Board: 802-828-2286
- Unemployment Employer Services: 802-828-4344
8. Municipal (City/Town) Permints and Zoning
Before buying a property or signing a lease, contact the city or town clerk where the business will be located to assure your plans conform to local restrictions and to obtain the necessary permits for buildings types and signs. Download a list of municipal zoning contacts.
9. Act 250 Permit
For construction of improvements for new or existing commercial and industrial facilities, or for the change in use of an existing facility, you should check with the district environmental coordinator to determine if a land use permit (ACT 250) will be required. Please call 802-828-1556 or visit www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/permit_hb/anrregmap.htm for the contact information for your regional office.
10. Other State Licenses, Permits, and Regulations
Contact the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) by phone at 802-828-1556 or vist www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/dec.htm.
- Regional permit specialists can provide project review sheet or permitting information. Visit www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/permits.htm#locator.
- The Vermont Permit Handbook can be found in town clerk offices, Vermont state libraries, the Department of Environmental Conservation, regional planning commissions, libraries, and VTSBDC offices; or online at www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/permit_hb/index.htm.
- The Environmental Assistance Office offers assistance and information on all business environmental and permitting issues. Call 800-974-9559 or visit www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/assist.htm.
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting is required if your facility has chemicals in storage and meets the requirements established in Federal Law 42 USC Chapter 116 and Vermont Statute 20 VSA Chapter 1. More information is available by calling 802-479-7586 or visiting vem.vermont.gov/programs/epcra.
The Vermont Small Business Development Center offers a heads-up on business environmental and permitting strategies, and information for all business types by calling 802-728-1423 or visiting www.vtsbdc.org.
No outdoor advertising is permitted other than on-premise signs with a total area of not more than 150 square feet. Contact the VTRANS, Office of Traffic Design Operations and Safety by phone at 802-828-2651, or visit vtransengineering.vermont.gov/sections/highway/sign_control for more information.
12. Legal Concerns
You may need to consult an attorney regarding your form of business ownership, leases, contracts, patents, trademarks, copyright, etc. The Vermont Bar Association has a lawyer referral service and may be reached by phone at 802-223-2020 or online at www.vtbar.org.
13. Accounting Concerns
Consult an accountant regarding bookkeeping systems, income tax planning and payments, pay roll reports, and related items.
14. Insurance Concerns
Consult an insurance agent about various forms of insurance, including: liability, fire, automobile, employee health and life, fidelity (insuring your business against employee theft), burglary and vandalism, business interruption, key-person insurance, and worker’s compensation cost.
15. Banking Concerns
Consult a banker about establishing a relationship for checking accounts, your future borrowing needs, credit card acceptance, and other concerns. Contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at www.sba.gov/vt for information about their business loan programs.
16. Trade Associations
Research and contact trade associations for helpful information in starting your business, including market statistics and training opportunities.
Consult the following directory source available at most business reference libraries:
Harper, K. A., & Gale/Cengage Learning (Firm) “National Organizations of the United States” Encyclopedia of associations: An associations reference (Vol. 1, published annually). Detroit, MI: Gale/Cengage Learning.
This lists trade, business, professional, labor, scientific, educational, fraternal, and social organizations in the U.S.; and historical data.
17. Chambers of Commerce
Contact your local and state chambers regarding their helpful services for new businesses in your community by calling 802-223-3443 or visiting www.vtchamber.com.
18. Economic Development Agencies and Funding Opportunities
Contact your city, county, and state of Vermont agencies for resources to assist you in starting your business.
- U.S. Small Business Administration—the official business link to the U.S. Government. Visit www.sba.gov for more information.
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets (VAAFM) is responsible for issuing licenses, certifications, and standards connected with agricultural, pesticides, greenhouses, and nurseries, grades and standards, weights and measures, and labeling. Find out more by calling 802-828-2416 or visiting agriculture.vermont.gov/index.php.
- Vermont Agency of Community Development (ACCD):
- The Department of Economic Development (DED) can be reached by phone at 802-828-3080, or online at accd.vermont.gov/business.
- Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center connects Vermont businesses with government opportunities, both state and federal, and a Vermont business directory. Download ”The Vermonter’s Guide to Doing Business,” at www.vermontbidsystem.com for a handy reference.
- Vermont Global Trade Partnership (VTTP) provides trade assistance, training, and events. Reach them by phone at 802-828-1681 or online at accd.vermont.gov/business/start/international_trade.
- The Vermont Community Development Program may have loan and grant opportunities for some types of businesses. Call 802-828-5219 or visit accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/opportunities/funding/vcdp for more information.
- The Department of Economic Development (DED) can be reached by phone at 802-828-3080, or online at accd.vermont.gov/business.
- The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE) at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTRANS) provides assistance to disadvantaged business enterprises (woman and minority owned business) that provide contract opportunities with AOT. For more information, call 802-828-2657 or visit www.aot.state.vt.us/civilrights/dbe.htm.
- The Vermont Department of Labor offers a full range of workforce-related services and information to businesses, workers, and job seekers. For more information, call 802-828-4000 or visit www.labor.vermont.gov.
- Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing may offer opportunities. Call 802-828-3237 or visit www.vermontvacation.com to find out more.
- Community and Economic Development Office, a department of the City of Burlington works with the community to foster economic vitality; preserve and enhance neighborhoods, quality of life and the environment; and promote equity and opportunity for all residents of Burlington. Training opportunities can be found at www.cedoburlington.org/business/training_opportunities.htm. For more information, call 802-865-7144 or visit www.cedoburlington.org.
19. Other Sources of Business Assistance
- The Central Vermont Community Action Council’s Micro Business Development Program assists low- and moderate-income Vermonters to start and operate micro businesses. 802-476-8493 / www.cvcac.org/community-economic-development/micro-business-development.html
- The Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC) services the Northeast Kingdom through small business lending, financing of innovative entrepreneurs to develop a more diverse set of occupations for the region, and assisting in strategic investment mechanisms to keep businesses competitive. 802-748-1888 / www.ncic.org
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. 800-634-0245 / www.score.org
- Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VSBR) fosters a business ethic in Vermont that recognizes the opportunity and responsibility of the business community to set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of our citizens. 802-862-8347 / www.vbsr.org
- Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) offers a range of financing options to help businesses succeed. 802-828-5627 / www.veda.org
- Vermont Grocers Association (VGA) a statewide trade association representing all sectors of the Vermont food industry. 802-839-1928 / www.vtgrocers.org
- Vermont Handcrafters is the oldest and largest juried craft organization in the state. This not-for-profit organization of Vermont residents is dedicated to the education, promotion, and sale of high-quality Vermont crafts. 802-223-2636 / www.vermonthandcrafters.com
- Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) helps to improve and grow manufacturing in Vermont and strengthen the global competitiveness of the state’s smaller manufacturers. 802-728-1432 / www.vmec.org
- VT/NH Direct Marketing Group providing seminars, an annual conference, and invaluable networking opportunities for business people throughout the Northeast. 802-457-2807 / www.vtnhdmg.org
- Vermont Retail Association advances and protects the interests of the Vermont retail industry. It aims to help retailers achieve excellence in all areas of their business by providing special rates and programs for health and dental insurance, credit card processing, shipping, and other important services to its members. 802-879-6999 / www.vtretailers.com
- Vermont Small Business Development Center (VTSBDC) provides no-cost business advising and low-cost training to all Vermont entrepreneurs starting or growing their own businesses. 802-728-9101 / www.vtsbdc.org
- Vermont Specialty Food Association is the nation’s oldest and most highly-regarded specialty food association. 802-839.1930 / www.vermontspecialtyfoods.org
- Vermont Venture Network is a monthly breakfast meeting to meet bankers, investors, and other entrepreneurs. 802-658-7830 / vermontventurenetwork.org.
- Vermont Women’s Business Center (VWBC) provides the counseling, networking environments, business tools, and training to help women in the early stages of business creation, reach a clear and progressive path towards profitability. This, so they can thrive at the intersection of their passions and skills, and continue making a positive impact on their community and family. 802-479-9813 / www.vwbc.org
- Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association supports the industry in Vermont and promotes its long-term viability by expanding member presence in the marketplace, ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials, increasing workforce skill, and acting as responsible employers and community members. 802-828-3211 / www.vermontwood.com
- Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP), a part of Mercy Connections, is committed to empowering women at every stage with the information and resources they need to develop and polish their entrepreneurial aptitude and achieve economic independence. 802-846-7063 / mercyconnections.org/start-small-business-vermont.html
If you have suggestions for additions to this checklist, contact the Corporations Division at 802-828-2386.