Starting a Business


Every business is different, and the requirements and steps necessary to ensure you are doing everything properly can be daunting. When you don’t know your DBA from your EIN or your permits from your sales tax you can lose your mind. Just remember, we’re here to help you get on the right track!  Most businesses begin with a business plan.  If you need help preparing one, here is a reference with an online tool to assist offered by the Small Business Administration.  You can also find local resources in the SBA Alabama Resource Guide.

Each page in this section holds information related to the most commonly asked questions, starting from obtaining your Assumed Name or "Doing Business As" (DBA) to getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN, like a social security number for businesses) and why it’s important. We also include information regarding training, financial assistance, and finding other business resources. Just click on the tabs below to find helpful documents, resources, and tools needed to help you start your business.

Checklist being made


Did you know there are two different types of business licenses depending on where you open your business? Business location in a traditional office space, storefront, or industrial area must obtain different approvals and submit a Non-Residential  (Commercial or Industrial) Business License application. If you are opening a business that you will run from your residence, then you must complete the Home-Based Business License application. Click on the appropriate tab below to learn the steps involved.

  1. Industrial Business
  2. Home Business
  3. Commercial business

Step 1: Check Your Location

Verify the zoning of the location you choose through our interactive GIS mapping portal.  Also, verify the regulations for the industrial zone you want to locate.  Then visit the Planning Department to ask any questions you may have about the proposed use. Then complete Step 2, BEFORE you enter a purchase or lease agreement for any property and submit to the Planning Department. If you don’t have a physical business location in Madison but have commercial dealings, please go to Step 3.

Step 2: Submit a Zoning Compliance Certification Application

The Zoning Compliance Certificate application does not commit you to a business venture location but will provide you with confirmation the business can be operated at the location and what the development regulations and building requirements will be for that specific address. This is a required application approval for obtaining a new business license or a new location. The review includes Planning, Building, Engineering, Fire, and in some cases Madison Utilities.  Some projects may require a site visit to better understand the project and identify compliance requirements prior to final approval. You can submit your application to the Planning Department to begin the process which takes about 3-days for approval.

Step 3: Get Your Business License

Once Step 2 is complete, visit the Revenue Department to complete your Business License application and Supplement. Every business has a NAICS code and if don’t know yours, visit this link for the NAICS code Don’t forget to provide your public business phone number, website, and social media links so we can help you market your business! The Economic Development Department will assist you in promoting your business by ’Liking’ your social media links and sharing your events and promotions. We will also list your business on our Find More Madison website!

Step 4: Ask About Incentives

The Madison Industrial Development Board (IDB) can provide incentives to qualifying industries. To learn more, visit the IDB Incentives.

Step 5:  Building Permits

If you are modifying an existing building for your business, you can obtain your building permits either online or through the Building Department.  If you are building a new building, please submit a site plan application and all associated documents for approval through the Planning Department.

Find More Madison

When you apply for a new business license in the City of Madison, you will receive a "Welcome" envelope that includes a Find More Madison window sticker (image to the left) for your primary business entry. If you need additional stickers, just let us know!

  1. Mentoring
  2. Resources
  3. Investors & Financing
  4. Incubators & Accelerators

The entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in North Alabama is gaining National attention and is rock solid. This list will continue to grow as new opportunities present themselves. If you know of resources, please send us an email with information so we can add it to our list. Networking is important for entrepreneurial success and to aid existing businesses in growth!

Alabama Works - career information for both job seekers and employers
Alabama Department of Revenue (Entity Registration & Processing Service/Taxes)
Alabama Technology Network
Boots to Business
Huntsville - Madison County Chamber of Commerce
Made In Alabama (Small Business Resources through the AL Department of Commerce)
Madison Chamber of Commerce
Huntsville Metro Black Chamber of Commerce
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) (Start-up mentoring and free workshops, sign up on the main website)
Small Business Administration (Local Office)
Small Business Administration (Launch your business in 10 Steps)
Small Business Development Center (A great place to start)
Still Serving Vets
The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship                                                                                                                                          gener8tor - business startup assistance 
UAH Center for Management & Economic Research