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Business and Public Management -

Legal & Licensing Information

General Information Websites Local Information

General Information

Small businesses must meet various legal requirements which are enforced by federal, state, and local government. The requirements usually fall within the larger categories of legal structures and licenses. After researching the legal structures and licensing required for your small business, consulting with an attorney, accountant, and an insurance representative is recommended. These professionals provide assistance to make sure you have considered all the requirements needed to start your business. 

Here are a couple definititions you may find useful as you begin this process:

Legal Structure: A legal structure is a type of business organization that is codified in law by the various state governments and the federal government. Some of the more common legal structures for businesses are sole proprietorship, limited liability company, partnership, registered limited liability partnership, S corporation, and C corporation.

License: A license is permission granted by a legal authority to engage in an activity. In regards to small businesses, local governments often require a business license to establish a business within the boundaries of their municipality. Certain small businesses are also required by state goverments and the federal government to have licenses as well. Examples of these types of businesses include agribusinesses, convenience stores, counseling services, and daycare centers. 

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The following list of websites has been recommended by the Business and Public Managment Librarian as a starting point in legal and licensing information research for a small business.

About.com: Entrepreneurs: Business Legal Organization Structures
Here information can be found about the variety of business organization structures available and tips for setting up the structures.

Doing Business in Missouri... Legal Formation
This links to a document from the University of Missouri Extension Service's website on business start-up. The document includes information on various legal structures.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Small Business
This section on small business from the IRS website includes an "A-Z Index" where information on "Business Types" can be located. This website also provides information on Employer ID Numbers, small business forms and publications, filing and paying for your business taxes, and more.

Quick MBA: Law and Business
This website provides definitions for business legal structures. 

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Local Information

The business services staff has created a list of links to many St. Louis Metropolitan area local licensing requirements. If no website was available, the phone number has been listed. To access this list, please click here.

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