New York, the Empire State, is a hub for business and innovation. With a population of over 19 million people and a GDP of $1.56 trillion, New York ranks as one of the top states to start a business in the United States. In fact, there are over 2 million small businesses in New York, making up 99.8% of the state's thriving business economy.
The state offers a favorable tax environment, access to startup capital and a range of support services to help new businesses succeed. But before you jump in, there are some key things you need to know.
This article will guide you through starting a business in New York, from developing your business idea to securing funding (and more).
Once you’ve got your business idea, create a website to jumpstart your venture.
Start a business in New York in 7 steps
01. Come up with a business idea
The first step to starting a business in New York is to develop a business idea that can scale into a profitable business. Make sure to do your research before finalizing an idea. You’ll need to carefully consider what you want to sell or offer as a service, and you should have a good idea of who your intended market is and how you will reach it.
Here are several business ideas that may work well in New York’s diverse and dynamic market:
Food and beverage: With a culinary scene that is second to none, New York is a place where new food-related businesses are always in demand. A gourmet food delivery service, a vending machine business, a craft beer bar or a unique restaurant concept may fare well in this scene (check out how to create a bar business plan to get started).
Real estate: The New York City real estate market is always booming, and businesses have many opportunities to thrive in this industry (see how to create a rental property business plan). From green home construction to an interior design business, the possibilities are endless. Check out our guide on how to create an interior design business plan for more details.
Fashion and beauty: As the fashion capital of the world, New York City is a hotbed for businesses related to fashion and beauty. From personal styling services or starting an eyelash business to eco-friendly clothing lines, there is always a demand for new and innovative ideas. For a more in-depth look, see our guide on how to start a beauty business.
Technology: New York is a hub for technology startups and established companies, making it the perfect location for new businesses in the tech sector. A mobile app, a cybersecurity firm or a software development company could fit in nicely.
Media and advertising: With so many media and advertising companies headquartered in New York City, there are plenty of opportunities to launch your own business in this sector. You could start a content creation agency or a digital marketing firm (though you’ll want to be extra clear about what makes your agency unique, given the high level of competition in New York).
Education: The city's thriving academic scene presents many opportunities for new businesses in education. You could launch an online learning platform, a tutoring service or a test preparation company.
Arts and entertainment: New York City is a cultural mecca with many opportunities for businesses in the arts and entertainment sector. You could do almost anything that harnesses your passion or creative skills, from launching a music production company or starting a dj business (see how to create a dj business plan) to creating a new art gallery.
Travel and tourism: As a top tourist destination, New York presents many opportunities for small medium businesses in the travel and tourism industry. Think: a boutique hotel, a food tour company or a bike rental service.
Health and wellness: Given the state’s health-conscious population, new businesses in the health and wellness sector have plenty of opportunities. Consider starting a juice bar, a yoga studio or a healthy meal delivery service.
Consulting: As a major business center, New York has many opportunities for new businesses in the consulting sector—such as a sustainability consulting firm, a legal consulting service or a financial management consultancy.
02. Choose your business type
Choosing the right business type is vital when starting a small business in New York. The type of structure you choose will affect your personal liability, tax obligations and management structure, among other things.
If you’re not sure where to start, consult a professional accountant or lawyer to help you understand the pros and cons of each type and determine which structure fits your unique business needs the best.
There are six basic business types to choose from in New York:
Sole proprietorship: This is the simplest and most common type of business entity. As a sole proprietor, you have total control over your business but are personally liable for any debts or legal issues.
Partnership: A partnership may be the best option if, as the name suggests, you already have a business partner in mind. Partners share control, profits and losses, as well as legal and financial responsibility.
Limited liability company (LLC): An LLC offers the liability protection of a corporation but is taxed like a partnership. As an LLC owner, you're not personally liable for the company's debts or legal issues.
S corporation: An S corp is similar to an LLC in terms of liability protection, but it's taxed differently. With an S Corp, profits and losses pass through to the owners' personal tax returns.
C corporation: A C corp is a separate legal entity from its owners and provides the most liability protection. However, it can be more complex and expensive to set up and/or maintain without the help of an accountant.
Nonprofit: A nonprofit’s primary purpose isn’t to make a profit, but rather to benefit a certain cause. A nonprofit is tax-exempt and governed by a board of directors. Any profits made must be reinvested back into the organization.
03. Name your New York business
When choosing a business name, we recommend getting creative, as you’ll want something that represents your brand and resonates with potential customers.
Start by brainstorming a list of keywords related to your business and use them to create unique combinations that make your business name memorable. Avoid overly complex words or phrases that might be difficult for customers to remember or spell.
Don’t be afraid to test different names—or name combinations—with focus groups or friends and family. A good business name is easy to remember, simple to spell and can stand the test of time.
Here are some business name examples (specific to New York) to get those creative ideas flowing:
The Big Apple Bakery
Empire State Event Planning
Manhattan Movers and Shakers
The Brooklyn Botanist
The New York Nosh
The Upstate Outfitters
Gotham City Grooming
The City Sipper (bar or café)
The Hudson Valley Harvest (farmers market or restaurant)
The High Line Home (Interior design and home decor)
The Manhattan Marvels (Tours and Travel)
The NY Threads (Fashion and clothing store)
The Wall Street Wizard (financial consulting)
The Niagara Nosh (Restaurant or Food truck)
The Finger Lakes Fizz (winery or brewery)
Looking for inspiration? Try Wix’s business name generator tool.
Once you’ve decided on a business name, check the New York State Division of Corporations website to see if your desired business name is available. Additionally, you may want to look into trademarking it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark office to protect it from being used by another business.
04. License and register your business in New York
To officially register a business in New York, you’ll need to follow these general steps:
Register with the New York State Department of State: If you’re forming a corporation or an LLC, you must file articles of incorporation or articles of organization, respectively, with the state. You can do this online through the New York Department of State's website or by mail.
Obtain any necessary licenses and permits: Knowing how to get a business license is an important step in opening a small business. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits from the state, county or local government. You can find information on which licenses and permits you need by using the New York Business Express website.
Register for taxes: In order to collect state sales tax, you need to acquire a Certificate of Authority. You may also be subject to other state taxes, so you will need to register for state and federal taxes. You can do this online through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website.
Obtain employer insurance: If you have employees, you are required to obtain three types of insurance: unemployment insurance, which covers certain liability requirements and can be obtained through the NYS Department of Labor; workers’ compensation insurance, which covers injuries sustained on the job and is available through the NYS Insurance Fund; and disability benefits insurance, which is available from the NYS Insurance Fund. You could additionally explore other insurance coverage, which is optional but usually beneficial to have.
Open a business bank account: Always keep your personal finances separate from your business finances to protect your personal assets and for tax purposes. Check out business banking solutions that match your type of business, and look for a financial institution with low monthly minimums, minimal fees and mobile access.
Given that these are general steps and additional requirements may be needed for your specific business, it's always a good idea to consult a lawyer or accountant to ensure that you are meeting all of the necessary legal and financial requirements.
05. Write your business plan
To launch and operate a successful business in New York, take the time to craft a comprehensive business plan that outlines your objectives and strategies.
Your business plan should include:
Potential obstacles and risks
Solutions to identified problems and risks
KPIs and benchmarks for success
Your business plan helps investors or potential partners understand how your products or services will satisfy your target market and differentiate you from competitors in the New York market.
A well-crafted plan also helps investors gauge how serious you are about your business, which can assist you in securing funding. Furthermore, your business plan serves as a guide for launching and managing your business, both now and in the future.
06. Secure business funding in New York
Securing business funding can be a tedious process, so if you need additional funding to get your business up and running, carefully research and evaluate the different funding options available to you before making a decision.
Additionally, keep in mind that your funding needs may change over time as your business grows and evolves. It's always wise to stay current with the latest funding options to ensure that you have the support you need to succeed.
There are many ways to raise money for a business in New York. Here are a few methods for you to consider:
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs): CDFIs provide loans and other financial services to small businesses and individuals in underserved communities. In New York, several CDFIs provide loans and technical assistance to small businesses, such as the Business Center for New Americans and the Excelsior Growth Fund. They can also help explain how to find a business loan and which type.
Pursuit: Formerly New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC), Pursuit provides loans to small businesses in New York, ranging from microloans to larger loans for real estate purchases and equipment financing.
Angel investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who fund startups in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt.
Venture capital: Venture capital firms invest in startups and small businesses that have the potential for significant growth.
Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a way of raising money from a large number of people through platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans: The SBA offers a variety of loan programs for small businesses, including the 7(a) loan program, which provides funding for working capital, equipment and real estate (see how to create a real estate business plan) purchases.
Bank loans: Banks offer different types of loans for small businesses, such as term loans and lines of credit.
07. Create a business website
Building a business website is key to growing your online presence and reaching a wider audience. A professionally designed website helps you establish brand credibility, showcase your products or services and generate sales.
To get started, choose a business website template that reflects your brand’s personality and customize it with your unique visual elements and content. Then, create high-quality content that speaks directly to your target audience. Finally, highlight any key differentiators or initiatives that set you apart from your competition.
After creating your website, you’re ready to start driving traffic to it. Consider email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and social media campaigns to increase visibility and attract relevant audiences to your website. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a quick way to boost incoming traffic and help spread the word about your new business.
For more detailed help on creating a successful website for your business, read about how to make a small business website.
Business examples in New York
Seeing others in action can often spark inspiration. Here are a few examples of New York businesses using Wix to support their businesses online.
Based in the Bronx, Egzon Electric uses a one-page website design to share everything from its vision and services to a project showcase and owner information. In addition, multiple methods for contacting Egzon Electric are easily accessible, including a Chat option that encourages potential clients to reach out.
Wildlife photographer Jetmir Troshani showcases his work using a stunning portfolio-style website design and actively publishes new blog articles to share tips and updates with his followers. The non-cluttered website design really highlights his work.
Zen Advisors focuses on helping businesses get up and running quickly with all the necessary forms, licenses, certificates and more. Zen Advisors chose a sophisticated website template that fits well with the services offered and the professional clients they target.
How to start a business in New York review
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