Question: My family is interested in starting an office cleaning business. We are not going to be a franchise, and we have our own company assets (no need for a small business loan). We are in the midst of completing our business plan. And we already have licenses. I was just wondering how does the legalities come into our business? How do we pay taxes? Who do we have to consult before opening our small business?

Answer: It’s hard to generalize on these annoying logistics problems, because a lot depends on where you are and what you’re doing, specifically, and there’s no easy way for a general expert to be able to deal with all your specifics.  Local laws, zoning restrictions, licenses and such can be very specific. I hope it’s very different for, say, childcare or dental work than for graphic arts or business planning consulting.

One of the best places to look for this kind of information, specific to your town, your county, and your business, is the nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC). There are more than a thousand SBDCs across the United States, sponsored by government and education funds, generally quite capable of helping local businesses at very reasonable fees. You can find a nearby SBDC by going to our website at

— Tim Berry —

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.