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Starting a Business

Let's get started!

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!

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 an item below and you will find helpful documents, resources and tools, needed to help you start your business.


Mentoring Assistance
Alabama Department of Revenue (Entity Registration & Processing Service/Taxes)
Alabama Technology Network (ATN)
Boots to Business
Huntsville - Madison County Chamber of Commerce
UAH Center for Management & Economic Research
Made In Alabama (Small Business Resources through the AL Department of Commerce)
Madison Chamber of Commerce
North Alabama African American Chamber of Commerce (NAAACC)
Still Serving Vets
The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship [formerly the Women's Business Center of North Alabama]

Research & Development Centers
Anniston Army Depot (Public-Private Partnerships)
Auburn Huntsville Research Center
Department of Veteran Affairs (SE Network VISN 7, Atlanta)
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
IRS Small Business / Self-Employed Division
Missile Defense Agency (MDA) (Small Business Programs, Redstone)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Small Business Programs)
Social Security Administration (Alabama Field Office, Montgomery)
University of Alabama- Huntsville, Research Institute
U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command (AMCOM, Small Business Programs, Redstone)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Small Business Programs, )
U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (AMRDEC)
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (Redstone)
U.S. Department of Commerce (Export Assistance Center, Birmingham )
U.S. Department of Commerce (Minority Business Development Agency, Atlanta)
U.S. Small Business Administration (Regional Advocate, Atlanta)

Investors & Financing
Alabama Department of Revenue (Tax Incentives)
Alabama Department of Commerce (Financing Programs & Tax Incentives)
Alabama Launchpad
Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (Business Incentives & Resources)
Foreign Trade Zones (Madison is in FTZ #83 at HSV International Airport)
InCrowd Capital
Madison Industrial Development Board (Tax Incentives)
Neighborhood Concepts (NCI)

Regional Incubators & Accelerators
Huntsville Steamworks (formerly MindGear Labs)
Huntsville West
Lowe Mill
Rocket Hatch


Did you know there are two different types of business licenses depending on where you open you business? Business location in a traditional office space, storefront, or industrial area must obtain different approvals and submit the Non-Residential 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. 

Non-Residential Business Licenses
Step 1:     Check Your Location

Visit the Planning Department to ask about zoning areas when locating a property.  Then complete Step 2, BEFORE you enter a purchase or lease agreement for any property.

Step 2:     Submit a Zoning Compliance Certificate
The Zoning Compliance Certificate application does not commit you to a business venture location, but it will provide you with confirmation that the business can be operated at the location and what the development regulations and requirements will be for that specific location. Approval will likely require a visit to the location with the Planning, Building, Engineering, Fire, and Madison Utilities to ensure compliance prior to final approval. Submit your application to the Planning Department to begin the process.

Step 3:     Get Your Business License
Once Step 2 is complete, visit the Revenue Department to complete your Non-Residential Business License application and Supplement. Need to find your 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!

FMM-CLING DESIGN 2014web.jpgAbout one month after you obtain your business license, the Planning Director will send you a Welcome! Letter.  In this letter, there will be Find More Madison window stickers for your business entries.  If you need additional stickers, just pick them up when you get your business license!

Home-Based 'Residential' Business Licenses

Step 1:     Submit a Home-Business Application
If you are starting a home-based business, please submit this new Home-Business application 
and submit it to the Planning Department to begin the process. If you do not own the residence, you will be required to provide a signed letter from the property owner or leasing agent with your application that gives you permission to operate the requested business from the residence.

Step 2:     Get a Business License
Visit the Revenue Department to complete your Home-Business License application. Don't forget to provide your public business phone number, website, and social media links! The Economic Development staff will assist you in promoting your business by 'Liking' your social media links and sharing your events and promotions. Some home-based businesses will even qualify for spots on Find More Madison. Need to find your NAICS code?


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