CHAPTER 3-: This is the third chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Cleaning Business.” You cannot run a business without first legalizing it. Dealing with the legal issues is one of your first and foremost priorities when trying to start a new business. What exactly does the word “legalizing” refer to? In very simple terms, legalizing your business is the act of getting a license or a permit that will allow you to run your business operations without any obstructions from the state, city or town authorities.
If you think that you can run a business without going through the formalities of legalizing it, then you should be prepared to put yourself at the mercy of the government who are most likely to close your doors and stop you from doing business on your personal terms. Being a law abiding citizen is of utmost importance to being a successful entrepreneur. Do not be tempted into taking law evasive shortcuts and loopholes. These shenanigans will only serve to put you in deep water.
The rules and regulations of business legalization differ from one city to the other. You need to be aware of these rules from beforehand in order to get your business registered and up and running. Do your homework on the rules and regulations of the city where you are planning to open up your cleaning business. Some of the most common licenses and permits that you need to acquire to initiate your business operations are listed below:
Business Licenses and Permits You Need for a Cleaning Business
1. Business License-: The first thing that you need to get your business legalized is the official permission to do so from the city hall. This permission comes in the form of a business license. Upon getting in touch with the city’s business license department, you will be required to complete a business license application. The authorities at the city hall will then conduct a series of standard procedures to make sure that the location where you are intending to start your business is conducive for a new enterprise.
2. Fire Department Permit
Next in line of importance is the permit from the Fire Department of the city. This is essential for cleaning companies since they often use inflammable materials when running their business operations. If you are going to be storing inflammable objects at your store or headquarters, you must allow the Fire Department to come in and inspect your premises for fire safety. In the case that you avoid this inspection or ignore the need to receive a permit from the Fire Department, you may be cited for the possession of inflammable objects.
Getting a Fire Department Permit
Since you handle, store, or use materials or equipment that are hazardous to life and property; also materials or products that are regarded as highly flammable, then you would need to apply to the appropriate authority to obtain permit; before you can be allowed to store such highly flammable materials or products in your facility.
Different states in the United States of America have their own requirements for those who want to obtain fire department permits but we will try as much as possible to cover the basic steps you would need to follow and the conditions you are required to meet before you can obtain a fire department permit for your facility. Here are some of the steps you would need to follow in order to get a fire department permit;
- Make Enquiries on the Requirements and Office Address of the Nearest Fire Department-: You can search online for the office address of the nearest fire department in your state. Once you get the address, the contact number or the email address, then you can contact them to give you the necessary requirements for someone who wants to secure a fire permit for his or her facility.
- Obtain, Fill and Submit Your Application Form-: Be sure to include all the required back – up documents before submitting it. It is important to state that you can not submit your fire permit application form via email; it won’t be accepted. You are required to take the filled form to the nearest fire department office or you mail the form to them.
- Include Your Site Plan, Floor Layout and Proof of Insurance When Submitting Your Application Form-: The truth is that if you don’t include these documents when submitting your applications, you won’t get a fire department permit.
- Ensure That Your Facility is ready for Inspection before Submitting Your Application Form-: It is important to note that before a fire department permit can be issued to you, your facility will first be inspected by officers from the fire department. If your facility does not meet the requirements, you won’t be issued a fire permit. So before you submit your application form, ensure that your facility is in order and everything that needed to be in place is in place. Things like emergency exit, fire extinguishers placed at strategic positions within the facility, designated fire points and other fire safety gadgets et al.
- Put Structures in Place that Will Help You Retain Your Fire Permit-: It is one thing to obtain a fire department permit; it is another thing to retain the permit. The truth is that, if you fail to comply with the fire department rules and regulations on fire safety, your fire permit will be revoked. So ensure that you comply with fire and safety rules and regulations and also to expose your employees to fire safety best practices et al.
- Once Approval is Made, You Will Be Expected To Pay the Required Fee before Your Permit Can Be Issued-: If you are able to meet the requirement by your state fire departments office, then your application will be approved within few days. If your application is approved, you will be informed to pay the required fee before the permit can be issued to you. Fire permit application fee ranges between $300 and $400. If you are applying for a fire permit in San Francisco, USA, you will be required to pay $330.00 before you can be issued the permit.
3. Air and Water Pollution Control Permit
Air and water pollution is endangering the environment every single day. As a modern day entrepreneur, you need to have a “green” eco friendly approach to your business. Cleaning businesses are often blamed for polluting the environment by releasing toxic wastes into the open and the sewers. To make sure that your business has nothing to do with these malicious accusations, attain a permit from the Air and Water Pollution Control of your city. It is important to note that, the laws concerning air and water pollution will differ from one city to the other. Make sure that you are well informed about these rules and regulations before proceeding to launch your cleaning business.
Getting Air & Water Pollution Permit for a Cleaning Business
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is responsible for regulating waste water discharge and you need to contact them to know if the nature of your business will require Air and Water Pollution Permit. If you are supposed to get one and you don’t and you went ahead to discharge waste water your company can be closed down and you will be fined.
Likewise the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates air pollution in the United States of America, they are responsible for clearing a company and issuing them permit to operate if their activities involves releasing offensive gases and chemical to the environment. If this agency does not regulate industries, it will be easier for industries to release gases or chemical that will affect human and animal breathing, cause smog in the atmosphere, impair visibility and also attack our ecosystem. These harzadous chemicals and gas when released into the atmosphere can cause cancer or lungs related disease et al. Now let us quickly consider the steps to follow in order to get an air and water pollution permit for your business;
- Make Enquiries from the Appropriate Authority to Know If You Would Need to Get an Air and Water Pollution Permit for Your Business-: The nature of the business you intend starting will determine if you would need an air and water pollution permit before you can be allowed to go into operations. The best way of knowing is to visit the office or the Environmental Protection Agency closest to you to make the necessary enquiries. But you are certain that you would need to get an air and water pollution permit if your company is into any form of manufacturing that involves the release of waste products (chemical and gas) into the environment.
- Register Your Business and Obtain the Require License of Operations-: If are certain that you would need to get an air and water pollution permit for your business, then the first step to follow in order to get the process of obtaining the permit started is to register your business with the government of your country. The truth is that, the Environmental Protection Agency will not consider your application for air and water permit if they noticed that you don’t have the certificate of incorporation for your company. So ensure that you incorporate your company before approaching the relevant authority to apply for air and water pollution permit.
- Prepare Your Facility and Process to Meet the Required Standard during Inspection-: It is important to state that once you submit your application for air and water pollution permit, officers from the office of Environmental Protection Agency will inspect your facility and your process of production and discharge of waste before your application can be approved and then you will be issued the permit. So ensure that you have made the necessary arrangement before sending in your application.
- Obtain the Air and Water Pollution Permit Application Form, Fill the Form as Required and Attach the Needed Supporting Document before Submission-: If you are certain that your facility is ready for inspection, then you need to obtain the air and water permit application form, fill the form as required and then attach the needed supporting document before submitting the form to the appropriate authority. It is important to state that you can’t submit the form via email.
- Submit Your Applications and Wait for Inspection and Approval-: Once your application for air and water pollution permit has been submitted, a day will be given to you for inspection. You application will not be approved until the agency is sure that you have put safety mechanism in place. So, what is expected of you to do while waiting for inspection, is to ensure that you put your facility, production process and waste disposal process in top shape. You can call in experts to help you achieve this.
- Pay the Required Fee after Approval-: After few days or weeks of inspection, you will be informed if your application for air and water pollution permit is approved or if you are still required to work on your facility, production process or waste disposal process to meet the required standard. If your application is approved, you will be expected to pay the required fee before your air and water permit will be issued to you. Usually, the fee varies from state to state and from country to country. If you live in the US you are expected to pay at about $25/ton or $32/ton. You can visit www.epa.gov to find out the current fee.
- Collect Your Permit and Ensure That You Abide By the Standard Expected from Your Organization if You Don’t Want the Permit to Be Revoked-: Once you have successfully paid for your air and water pollution permit, you will be given a date to come collect the permit. It is important to state that your air and water pollution permit can be revoked if you fall short of the expected standard. Your organization must continue to abide by the standard set if you must continue to maintain your permit. So, be well informed that your air and water pollution permit is not permanent. As a matter of fact, you are expected to keep abreast with best practices in your industry if you want to continue to maintain your air and water pollution permit.
4. Sales Tax Certificate
The Sales Tax Certificate is imperative to starting any business, let alone one that is based on a cleaning service. There are two simple reasons why you need to acquire this certificate. Firstly, it will enable you to pay taxes on the products, commodities and services you sell. Secondly, it allows you to collect sales taxes from your clients. Failure to acquire a Sales Tax Certificate will be regarded as a tax evasion attempt.
Getting a Sales Tax Certificate for your Cleaning Company
If you are in the business of buying and selling of stuff it will be to your advantage to apply and get sales tax certificate if you intend maximizing profits for your business. Sales tax certificate is a certificate that enables a purchaser to make tax – free purchases. With your sales tax certificate, when you buy things that you intend reselling, you can purchase it without sales tax. As a matter of fact, aside from applying and obtaining your own sales tax certificate for the purpose of engaging in wholesale distributions of goods, sales tax certificate is need when you want to open a commercial checking account.
There are basic requirements you would need to meet if you want to obtain a sales tax certificate and it is also important to state that different states in the US have their own requirements for those who intend obtaining sales tax certificate. The truth is that getting a sales tax certificate is not a difficult process and it is inexpensive- especially if you meet the requirements before applying. You can visit the official website of the state you intend apply through, to check out their unique requirements and how to apply.
Basically, most states will prefer that you download the application forms from their website, fill out the forms and then mail the form to their office while some would not mind of you fill the forms online. Now let us consider the steps you would need to follow if you want to get a sales tax certificate;
- Ensure That Your Business is Legally Registered-: Before you can apply for a sales tax certificate, your business must be legally registered with the corporate affairs commissions of your country. As a matter of fact, your company must be involved in buying and re – selling (wholesale) for you to be able to maximize sales tax certificate. You can visit the nearest corporate affairs commissions in your country to get your business registered.
- Make Enquiries from The Nearest Internal Revenue Office or Local District Office-: There are different requirements from different states in the US when it comes to issuing sales tax certificates. So what is expected of you is to visit the nearest internal revenue office or the local district office to make enquiries on the requirements you would need to fulfill if you want to get a sales tax certificate.
- Obtain the Forms, Fill and Attach the Relevant Supporting Document-: You have the option of downloading the forms online or approach the nearest local district office to collect the application forms. Attach the relevant supporting document before submitting.
- Mail Your Filled Application Forms to the Local District Office-: Your applications will be reviewed and if you meet the requirements, you will be issued a sales tax certificate.
- Pay the Required Fee-: The process for obtaining a sales tax certificate is not stressful and the fee is not expensive. You would have to check with the local tax office around you or visit their website online to confirm the current fee. Normally, after payment your applications will be processed and if it is approved, your sales tax certificate will be mailed to you or you can be asked to come to their office to collect it.
Lastly, it is important to point out that there are two categories of sales tax certificates. We have the regular sales tax certificate and the temporary sales tax certificate. The specific sales tax certificate you need is dependent on your business activities. The temporary sales certificate has an expiry date on it, whilst the regular sales tax certificate doesn’t.
As a novice entrepreneur, all these formalities may seem excruciatingly complex to you. They will undoubtedly eat up a lot of your hours prior to the launch of your business. No matter how long it takes for these legal procedures to be complete, remain patient and calm. Failure to comply with the law is simply not an option. The significant of following the rules and regulations of your respective state or city cannot be stressed enough. The moment you look past these laws is the moment you jeopardize the success of your business. Think of it as short term pain leading to long term gain. Once you cover the legal parts of launching a business, your cleaning company will run as smooth as a brand new vacuum cleaner.