How to Get a Nevada Business License and Start Your Biz in Reno
You might know it by its common moniker, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” Yet, Reno, Nevada is quickly earning a new nickname: “The Biggest Little Startup Community.”
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Though in years past, the town was associated primarily with gaming and the Burning Man Festival, today it’s a bustling town full of opportunity for myriad industry types. From technology to retail, if you want to make a name for yourself and grow a new business from the ground up, this is the spot to do it in.
Home to more than a dozen geothermal companies, top-tier manufacturers and the University of Nevada, there’s no shortage of learning, growth, and expansion going on in Reno. (More and more California entrepreneurs are making the move to Reno.)
Are you looking to cash in on this chance to put down business roots in a community that’s as high-tech and innovative as it is artsy and cultural? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re discussing how to get a Nevada business license. This is Step 1 of the process and once you’ve signed this valuable piece of paperwork, you’re well on your way to adding “Business Owner” beside your name.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started. (Want to get in with the local small business community in Reno? Join our free Meetup group here.)
1. Create Your Business Plan
Before you get too deep into researching the licensing requirements, it’s important to have a solid business plan in place first. Many hopeful entrepreneurs have a great idea for a new company but aren’t sure how to execute it or what tools they’ll need to get started.
Then, once they go to begin the nitty-gritty process of getting off the ground, they find they’re already behind.
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be you. Start by visiting the Nevada Business Resource Center online. Here, you’ll find free counseling and business planning resources to help turn your daydream into a reality.
From step-by-step guides to starting a business in the state to information on funding resources, interactive workshops and local networking events, this site is invaluable to both the up-and-coming and established business leader. If your business qualifies as a disadvantaged business, you’ll also be pointed toward resources that can help you find the business certifications and capital you need.
Use this information to craft a detailed business plan. At the very least, it should include a vision, mission, and timeline for your company as well as other details including the products and services you will provide, a market analysis, organizational details and more. View my guide to creating a business plan here.
2. Visit Silver Flume
Once you have your business plan in place and you’re ready to get started, the next few steps can be completed much more easily. Most of them revolve around a resource known as Silver Flume.
Developed by the Nevada Secretary of State, Silver Flume is the go-to resource for any prospective or current business owner who wishes to conduct business in the state of Nevada. Launched in 2012, it has since processed more than 1.8 million virtual business filings.
On this site, you’ll find comprehensive information around both starting and renewing your business license. You can also file your tax return, manage your trust account and find resources to help your company grow.
With its user-friendly wizards, Silver Flume makes registering your legal entity and applying for a state business license as simple as possible. Simply find the menu on the left side of the homepage, then click on “Start a Business.”
Here, you’ll find a few guides that will walk you through getting your license, reserving your entity name, creating an operating agreement and more. For now, you just need the license, so click “Get a State Business License.”
3. Follow the Nevada Business License Wizard
This is the quickest and most straightforward way to get a state of Nevada business license.
The wizard will walk you through a series of questions and answers regarding the business you plan to start. You’ll begin by stating the type of business you intend to create. You can choose from:
- Sole Proprietorship
- General Partnership
- Not-for-Profit Business
- A Non-Nevada Entity Doing Business in the State
- Non-Qualified Foreign Corporation
After you’ve made your selection, the Silver Flume wizard will reveal a checklist of steps to complete to obtain your NV business license. If you’re local to the area, you can also complete this process in person by visiting the Nevada Secretary of State in Carson City.
In addition to your state business license, Silver Flume will also walk you through the steps to obtain your proof of tax registration and proof of industrial insurance. The former is mandated by the Nevada Department of Taxation. The latter demonstrates to the state that you’ve purchased the required amount of worker’s compensation insurance required for your business type.
Both of these files can be completed and obtained via the Silver Flume portal.
4. Register Proof of Fictitious Name
Here is where the process for doing work in Reno becomes location-specific. Steps 1-4 above are required regardless of where in the state of Nevada you plan to do business. Once you have these items under your belt, you can proceed to the city requirements, starting with establishing and registering your fictitious name.
Do you plan on using your first and last name as your business name? If so, you can move on to the next step.
If not, you’ll need to visit the Washoe County Clerk website to obtain your Doing Business As (DBA) forms. Though most of the other steps required to get a Nevada state business license can be completed entirely online, this is not one of them.
Rather, you’ll have to make a visit to the Clerk of Court’s office in Reno to complete the paperwork in person. The good news? There are several forms you can pre-fill online to shorten your wait time once you get there. You can also print the files and have them notarized at home.
Once everything is ready, visit the office in person to officially sign and file the paperwork.
5. Get Zoning Approval
If you plan to construct a new building to house your Reno business, you’ll need to work directly with the City Planning Department to do so. These officials can direct you on how to make sure that all aspects of your new construction comply with local and state zoning regulations.
Visit the city of Reno’s Building, Planning, and Engineering Divisions website for more information on this step. From how to obtain licensing and permits to a GIS mapserver and links to the zoning code in its entirety, there are many resources here that can point you in the right direction. You can also work directly with the city’s planning department to coordinate these meetings.
You can also download the application forms you’ll be required to complete depending on your business type and intended use. Keep in mind that while you can submit some files at any time, others are only accepted on specific, pre-determined “intake dates.”
For instance, if you’re requesting a zone change or a special use permit, you’ll have until 3:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month to do so. If you fail to meet this timeline, you’ll have to wait until the next intake cycle to continue.
6. Schedule a Fire Department Inspection
Next on your list should be to schedule an inspection of your new business by the local fire department. While anyone can and should complete this step as a safety and security measure, commercial locations are required to do so.
The Reno business license staff can also coordinate and schedule this inspection for you.
Before your business license can be issued to you, inspection fees should be paid in full. While this is one step you can take to ensure your location is sound and your team is safeguarded, the Silver Flume registration process can also walk you through OSHA-SCATS Safety Consultation and Training to make sure you’re up to speed on all industry regulations and compliance measures.
7. Complete a Signage Permit
Depending on the type of signage you plan to use to advertise and mark your business, as well as where you intend to place it, you may need approval from the Reno Department of Building and Safety.
Because they’re fun to think about, your logo, digital marketing collateral and other promotional pieces, including your signs, might be some of the first elements you complete. Yet, keep in mind that you cannot get approval for signage until all of your building permits have been completed.
So, reserve this step until toward the end, once you’re certain that your new or existing building is in line with local code, passes inspection and is permitted for use.
8. Talk to the Washoe County Health Department
If you only plan to serve retail goods or deliver services through your new business, you can usually skip this step.
On the other hand, if you intend to serve any kind of food or beverage at all inside your establishment, you need to contact the Washoe County Health Department.
Local officials will inspect your location and give you feedback. Upon completion, your location will be given a Pass, Conditional Pass or Closed status. If you pass, that means they found no more than one critical violation during the inspection.
If they find two or more, you’re approved on a conditional basis and required to correct the issue during the inspection. A follow-up inspection will happen no more than 72 hours after the initial one to ensure everything remains up to par.
A Closed status means that the inspectors found an immediate and substantial health hazard and your establishment must immediately stop any food service activities.
9. Check on Specialty Certifications
No two Reno businesses are created equal. What yours offers, the one down the street might not. To that end, there may be certifications, approvals, and sets of paperwork that are specific to your type of entity.
For instance, if you intend to start up an employment agency or a lending company? In these cases, you’ll need to obtain State certification, which can be achieved by contacting the State Labor Commissioner’s office.
The best rule of thumb? Reach out to the Reno Department of Business and Industry with any questions and to make sure that you have all of your paperwork in place for each step before moving forward with the next.
10. Obtain Your City of Reno Business License
Once you have completed all of the required steps and submitted all necessary paperwork, the Reno business license staff will review it and issue your local, citywide business license.
Expect the overall process to take around four weeks if you’re applying for a general, non-regulatory business license. Conversely, if you’re applying for a regulatory or privilege license that requires approval by both the police and City Council, the review timeline could take up to 60 days or more.
Conquer the World with Your Reno Business
With your Nevada business license in hand, there’s no limit to what you can do! You’ll be located in the diverse, bustling heartbeat of the state, where you can appeal to a range of audience types, including both full-time residents and seasonal visitors.
Do you need help getting the word out about your new company? Do you want to make sure your marketing and outreach efforts are focused, targeted and effective?
That’s where we come in.
We offer dynamic web design services that can help you translate your company vision into an engaging and interactive online presence.
While we help clients all over the world improve their marketing efforts and grow their reach, we’re local to the Reno area and are available to meet in person to discuss your new and ongoing needs.
Request more information today and let’s take this exciting new step together.
Additional resources to get you started with your business and/or startup in Reno.
All revved up to make that BIG move to the Biggest Little City in the World?
Well, before you make any major decisions about your move, it’s best to seek help from official Nevada organizations and other entities that are here to support you. Here are some additional resources that you might find useful to give you a flying start:
|Resource name||What’s in it for you?|
|StartupNV.Org||A one-window, not-for-profit organization that offers startups access to a variety of resources, including workspaces in Reno, mentorship and capital funding.|
Since 1983, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) has been a tireless advocate for supporting new startups in the Greater Reno-Sparks region.
Their Reno Startup Deck is a collection of 52 programs, services and events, from mentorship and funding, to workforce development/education and networking, that not only helps new enterprises establish themselves in Reno, but also aids recently established entities grow and thrive within the community.
Although transformed into an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2007, Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET) has been around since 1999.
If you are new to Reno, and wish to network with local peers, learn about establishing and managing a tech startup in the city, scout out local talent pools, and showcase your company’s tech prowess, then you’ll find a wealth of resources at NCET
Interested in making that BIG move, but don’t want to buy an office in Reno – just yet? Well, Pacific Workplaces may be just what your startup needs.
You’ve heard about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Well, Pacific Workplaces offers startups the benefit of Workplace-as-a-Service™.
Here, you’ll gain access to on-demand offices, be it virtually or in real time. You can share space with other like-minded entrepreneurs, or opt to establish a “virtual” footprint – with a real Reno street address and phone service – while you find your footing. Alternately, just create a “day office” when you can hold meetings and team meetings.
It’s always difficult taking that first BIG step forward. But what if that first step brought you into contact with dozens of freelancers, entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs and startups just like you?
The Reno Collective workplace community does just that! You’ll have access to collaborative workspace, infrastructure, support and much more…all for the fraction of the cost of buying, renovating and owning your own working offices.
Better yet, you might even find mentors, promising talent (maybe even future employees) and business partners among the vast talent pool that calls Reno Collective their “office”.
|University of Nevada’s Reno Innevation Center||
What’s an “innevation center”, you ask? Well, it’s a center for Invention, it’s where Innovation happens, and it’s where you’ll find entrepreneurs, startups and anyone interested in collaboration and invention.
If you are a new business startup, planning to make your BIG move to Reno, you might want to give the Innevation center a closer look. You’ll find co-working spaces, open and closed-door offices, and meeting and presentation facilities. You can also rent conference rooms and spaces for special events.
As a member, you’ll also have access to Makerspace – all the equipment, knowledge, and collaboration you need to get your gig to a flying start!
Marketing your business is super important. Join me and local business owners for an hour of marketing and business support, where we share whats working and not working in sales or other business related topics.
Learn about digital marketing strategies with Google My Business.
Join our Reno Business Networking group and get the latest news on what is working in marketing businesses in the Reno Nevada area today as well as network with some of Northern Nevada’s leading businesses. JOIN for free here.
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