Ever since the 1620s Massachusetts has been fertile soil for new and innovative ventures. The telephone was invented here, as was the first computer and the first microwave oven. From the first mutual fund to the first use of anesthesia to the first subway system, Massachusetts has led the way in innovation and ingenuity.

Massachusetts' rich innovative heritage has been a stimulus for thousands of entrepreneurs who have started some of the nation's greatest corporations right here as small businesses. Gillette, Fidelity and Genzyme are just a few of the many examples.

While starting a business can be personally and financially rewarding for all of those involved, it will not necessarily be easy or quick. In fact, it may be one of the most challenging projects you have undertaken. A hasty start can lead to the untimely end of a business. Six months to one year is not an unreasonable estimate of the time it may take to get ready to open your doors for business. A myriad of issues should be addressed during the start-up period to improve your probability of success.

Formulating a solid business plan to capitalize on your ideas is only the beginning. You must consider federal, state, and local registration; incorporation; licenses; financing; taxes... and the list goes on.

The information in this pamphlet is designed to help you, the entrepreneur, start thinking and acting in a manner that improves your chances for success. Take a closer look at your business idea, explore other resources beyond this guide, and consult a qualified attorney and accountant before getting started.


Starting a business can sometimes seem like an uphill climb. You must plan each step before you take it. Once a business plan is developed, the entrepreneur must consider more than production, marketing, and accounting. You must also consider the legal environment and government regulation of business and the related forms necessary to comply with regulation. The following activities should be considered when starting a new business:

  • Consult an attorney regarding the legal requirements of setting up and operating your business.
  • Consult an accountant regarding the financial and tax requirements of setting up and operating your business.
  • Register the name of the business with the state.
  • Make appropriate applications for licenses to operate in desired states.
  • Obtain a federal employer identification number (Form SS-4).
  • Apply for state workers' compensation and unemployment insurance.
  • Determine applicable job safety and health regulations (OSHA).
  • Determine applicable environmental regulations.
  • Apply for local business licenses.

Recommended Content

People also viewed...

You recently viewed...

Personalization is OFF. Your personal browsing history at Mass.gov is not visible because your personalization is turned off. To view your history, turn your personalization on.

Learn more on our .

*Recommendations are based on site visitor traffic patterns and are not endorsements of that content.