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Discover How to Start a Business in Pennsylvania and Be Successful

Discover How to Start a Business in Pennsylvania and Be Successful

Our specialists in professional SEO services know that the Keystone State is one of the best places to start a Pennsylvania small business. Uniquely situated with access to 40% of the US population and 60% of the Canadian populations and six international airports, Pennsylvania is one of the best located US state to favor business and trade. Moreover, it is the only state with port access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Thus, it is no wonder that this state has the 8th largest tech employment in the US and that 21 Fortune 500 companies are based in Pennsylvania. 

And these are sufficient reasons to determine more entrepreneurs to start a business in PA. As professional SEO and digital marketing specialists, our mission is to assist every one of them with professional services and with helpful advice. In this article we will detail step by step how to start a small business in PA, including registration and tax duties.

These are the Steps to Starting a Business in PA

How do you turn a great idea into a Pennsylvania small business? This checklist will show you that it is far simpler than you think. After all, the US is the land where the entrepreneurial spirit thrives and remains an example for the rest of the world.

Develop an Idea for a Product or Service

Every large corporation whose name and logo you recognize instantly started with someone’s idea of doing things differently and better. Imagine how much transportation has changed during the last century with the invention of the automobile and the airplane. And we still have so many other aspects to improve in our lives. Who knows, maybe your idea to open a business in Pennsylvania will revolutionize healthcare or education. Or, it may make life easier for people in your local community, who need your products and services.

Before starting a business in PA, you need to know that you have potential clients for your product.

At the same time, you should not be too fond of an idea and start a business in PA without checking that there is a potential market for it – sufficient people who would buy your products or services. You don’t always have to be an innovator and discover something completely new. But you may make a significant improvement on an existing product and make it safer, simpler and easier to use.

Do Your Research on Your Business Idea

Before you consider business registration in PA, you must do the above mentioned market research. You can start with your friends, family and neighbors. Tell them about your idea and ask them to give you an honest answer: would they pay for that product or service?

To expand your research and make it more relevant before opening a business in PA, follow these steps:

  • Read market reports for the industry or sector of your prospective business
  • Define your target customer (age, education level, income, interests) 
  • Engage with potential customers on the social media by creating polls
  • Find out how many competitors you have in your local area
  • Test your business idea with a prototype product.

Choose a Name and Business Entity for Incorporation

The third item in the list of steps to starting a business in PA requires your full attention and careful analysis. You will have to decide on the form of incorporation for your business and its registered name. Here are a few helpful tips for choosing a great Pennsylvania small business name:

  • Make sure it is relevant to your field of business
  • Include one keyword in the name 
  • Make it memorable and not very long.

The first step is to check the availability of the intended business name in the Pennsylvania database of registered businesses. Once you know that you can use the business name, it is time to decide what type of business entity you want to run.

We know how to start a business in PA and we will share the step by step guide for all entrepreneurs

Most people want to know directly how to start a sole proprietorship in PA. As we will explain a little later in this article, it always pays off to do your research carefully and choose the right form of incorporation, because this decision will have a big impact on your liability and your tax duties.

Draft a Business Plan

The business plan is like the blueprint you draw before building a house. It must contain clear specifications for the foundations, structure of resistance and other key elements that make it safe and reliable. 

The same is true about starting a small business in PA. You must have a clear, actionable plan that covers all the aspects from the first day in business until it has grown into a successful company. This is your navigation map as a business owner and a source of relevant and reliable information for any potential investor.

Thus, one key element for starting a business in PA is preparing the business plan, containing the following items:

  1. Executive summary -  a general description of your business and why you believe it will be successful
  2. Description of business – here, you will write a detailed description of the advantages of your business idea (product, service) and what type of problems it solves
  3. Market research – include the most important findings from your research, indicating the average market size, your competitors and other relevant aspects
  4. Organization and staff – every Pennsylvania small business must start with a few key positions – the job roles that will manage the business and those that will perform daily activities
  5. Product or service description – give a clear description of what you will offer customers for sale
  6. Marketing plan – detail the strategy to promote your business and attract customers
  7. Fundraising – explain how you plan to raise money to open a business in Pennsylvania and run it until it starts generating revenues
  8. Financial forecast – prepare the necessary data and balance sheet to indicate how your company is expected to generate revenues
  9. Appendix – this is not a compulsory section of a business plan, but you can include any permits, licenses, certificates and other documents demonstrating your ability to run a business.

Decide on a Legal Business Entity Form

As we stated above, when you start a business in PA you need to decide on its form of incorporation. Each of them has specific advantages for the owner:

Sole Proprietorship

- this is the most common form of incorporation for a Pennsylvania small business

- the business owner bears 100% liability, extending to their personal property and assets

- you can use your own name to run the business, or apply for a fictitious business name or trade name

Limited Liability Company

- a LLC is liable only up to the limits of its assets

- it is treated as a partnership for taxation purposes

- other individuals or corporations can become members in a LLC 

Limited Partnership

- this type of Pennsylvania small business has one general partner, with management control, and limited partners

- limited partners can make investments and benefit from revenues, but do not have the right to control the daily operations

- the limited partners’ extent of liability is limited to the value of their investment

- the general partner has both joint and several liability


- this is the most complex way of starting a business in Pennsylvania, from the point of view of paperwork

- there are two types of corporations for taxing and income purposes: S corporations follow Pennsylvania personal income tax rules, while C corporations follow federal income tax rules

Complete Business Registration in PA

Once you have determined the form of incorporation, it is time to register it with the state authorities. You will have to fill in the application form and submit it to the Pennsylvania Department of State, or you can complete the process on the online portal.

Starting a business in Pennsylvania is easier than ever thanks to the online services you have available

Acquire Federal and State Tax IDs

Next in the steps to starting a business in PA is the duty to obtain tax IDs, both at state and federal levels. At the present, the corporate net income tax in Pennsylvania is 9.9%. However, there are several other types of state taxes applicable to various types of businesses. You can find them in the Tax Compendium published by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Also, take the time to read this helpful guide prepared by the Department of Revenue for prospective Pennsylvania small business owners, explaining all the registration requirements.

Open Business Banking and Credit Accounts

Once you completed business registration in PA, it is time to consider how to pay and collect payments for your business. 

Even if you choose to start a business in Pennsylvania as a sole proprietorship doing business in your own name, you should never use your personal bank accounts and credit cards for business purposes. You will find it very hard to prepare tax returns, recognize revenues and expenses related to your business and make mistakes that may get you in trouble with the IRS.

Always perform any financial operation for your Pennsylvania small business through its dedicated business banking accounts and credit cards.

Choose a Location for Your Business

Location is extremely important if you plan on starting a business in Pennsylvania running a store or a professional services office. Your must consider:

  • How much foot traffic there is in the area from prospective customers
  • How much it costs to rent office or store space
  • Consider safety, both for yourself and your customers
  • Think about the possibility of expanding
  • Choose an area with plenty available parking options.

Develop an Internet Presence for Your Pennsylvania Small Business

Now that you know how to start a small business in PA, registered your company and have its separate banking accounts and credit cards you are in business. And it is time for potential customers to know about it. How do you do it? The internet is the best place for growing a brand name and finding clients. For this, you will need a website, developed by our web design services specialists. We will create a site that meets the latest Google rules and represents the brand image of your business.

Also, you need to create business profiles on the most popular social media networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Complete business registration in PA with creating profiles on the most popular social networks

Moreover, you need to claim your listing on Google Business Profiles, which has many benefits, including getting found in local searches and having a Pin with your Pennsylvania small business location on Google Maps.

Your Pennsylvania small business needs a Google business profile in order to increase web traffic

Finally, create profiles for your Pennsylvania small business on relevant review sites, such as Yelp and Tripadvisor. These are extremely helpful for growing a good reputation through positive reviews and getting new clients who are looking for your products and services in their local area.

Start Building a Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most effective strategy for promoting a business online and finding new customers by making your website more visible on Google. You should have an effective SEO strategy from the very beginning, right after starting a small business in PA. And for this reason you need to hire a professional SEO company instead of trying to do it yourself.

Our SEO experts can help with all the aspects pertaining to your strategy, from finding the right keywords and performing on-page optimization to creating content for your site. We understand the customers’ behavior at each moment in the buying process and implement effective strategies to win their trust and determine them to buy your products and services.

Why Does Your Pennsylvania Small Business Need SEO

You may wonder - ”why should I spend money on professional SEO services? My budget is already stretched as I try to grow my business.”

Here is what you need to know. SEO is a very advanced and specialized work, which requires experience and specific training. It involves both actions taken on your website and outside it to help Google:

  • understand what your site is about
  • decide that it is a reputable and reliable website
  • determine that you are an authoritative source of information in your field
  • choose to display your website among the first search results for relevant queries.

After you open a business in Pennsylvania, you need SEO services to attract customers

This is the most cost effective and efficient way of promoting and advertising your Pennsylvania small business and its products. Paid search and online ads are not very effective, as they generate results only while you have active campaigns running and they can be subject to abuse from click farms.

After you open a business in Pennsylvania, you need to start promoting it in a manner that fits both your budget and your need to find customers as quickly as possible. SEO is the right solution for you for both these reasons.

To help you understand better, here are the main reasons why your Pennsylvania small business or new enterprise needs online marketing and SEO services:

Increase the Visibility of Your Website

The first step of finding new customers is getting found online. After you start a business in PA and have the license to operate, you must start making it visible for potential customers. Through linkbuilding, content marketing and the right keyword strategy, SEO specialists can make this happen for you. 

You can always check the results of our work in the regular reports we send you, indicating the most relevant metrics (website traffic and conversions).

Increase the Organic Traffic and Get High Quality Site Visitors

Organic traffic, coming from Google searches and clicks on links in social media posts, is the best type of traffic. It means that the website visitor is truly interested in your products and services and actively searching for them. 

Through a careful SEO strategy, your website will be more visible in organic searches and will get high quality traffic from people who are likely to buy your products. These first revenues are your lifeblood after starting a business in PA, because they help you consolidate it and getting the money you need to support your family.

Improve the Credibility and Trustworthiness of Your Website

SEO creates trust both among potential customers and in the way Google ranks your website. Three of the main ranking criteria are represented by the E-A-T acronym, standing for:

  • expertise
  • authoritativeness
  • trustworthiness

Our SEO services specialists know how to achieve these criteria, by creating a user friendly, safe and well optimized site for your business and developing a SEO content strategy that builds trust and encourages site visitors to convert to customers.

You Will Be Able to Target the Entire Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel is a concept that shows how people interact with a business and progress on the buying journey. For any Pennsylvania small business, the process is the same:

  • at the topof the funnel you find people who are just learning about your business and products
  • at the middle of the funnel there are fewer people than at the top, people who choose to stay in contact with your business through social media and your newsletters
  • at the bottom of the funnel there are even fewer people, those who choose to make a purchase for the first time.

SEO can help you after starting a business by targeting people at all levels of the marketing funnel

SEO targets people at each level in this customer journey and aims to maximize the percentage of visitors who continue to interact with your business and then decide to buy from you.

SEO Has an Excellent Return on Investment

Compared to other digital marketing and advertising strategies, SEO has an impressive ROI because it generates long term effects. As we explained above, once you stop an ad campaign, the results also stop almost immediately. Since you know how to open a business in PA and how much it costs to keep it going before it generates revenues, paid traffic is not a good option.

With SEO, after you finish the implementation of the strategy, you will continue to reap its benefits, through increased organic traffic, high quality site visitors and a high conversion rate.

Target All the People Who Are in Your Target Audience

Unless you sell a very specific product or service, your Pennsylvania small business has potential customers from a large demographic pool: men and women, younger and older, with different levels of education and income.

Yet, although they need the same products and services, they have different outlooks on life and respond to different types of marketing messages.

Ready to Start a Business in PA? We Can Help You Grow It!

Now that you now how to register a business in PA, it is time to start planning for its success. The team at Direct Line Development is here to help you build your internet presence and your SEO strategy.

We have extensive experience in working with Pennsylvania small business owners, so contact us to discuss your digital marketing strategy with our specialists: 267-626-2554!

Alex Kudimov
Alex KudimovCEO of Direct Line Development


20th September 2022

Great material! Thanks

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