Technically whats consitutes a"legal" business?

Joined Mar 6, 2001
I've been working on starting my own business but I've run into a few obstcles along the way. I wanted to start my business renting from an existing business to keep my investment and risk small.

So, in doing my homework talking to the health dept. for my County in IL they told me they would not consider me as a seperate business when sharing someone elses business location. They would find the existing business as the only business and liable for anything coming from their kitchen. So now I'm looking into other Counties near me to see how they handle this in hopes I could rent from people in their area instead.

But in addition I feel that I'm not as certain of what constitutes legal exactly (anymore)? This is what I think or thought the requirements would be:
A sanitation license
Working from a inspected and approved kitchen
Having Insurance to cover property, liabilities, etc...
A business license with state gov.

Is this correct? Am I missing something?

Why I'm asking: because I want to mainly sell wholesale to existing businesses. What will those existing businesses require of me?
Joined Mar 4, 2000
I would expect a lawyer, who deals mostly with food businesses in your state, would be able to answer those questions most accurately. Between a lawyer, an accountant, and the health department, you should have all your bases covered. And you'll need to consult with all of these people on a regular basis, so I wouldn't think of it as an extra startup expense. It's a necessary one.

Maybe some of our Illinois friends can be more specific.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
You will also need a FEDERAL EIN, or Employer Identification Number. You need this number EVEN IF YOU CURRENTLY HAVE NO EMPLOYEES! You can call the IRS and they will send you the information. In my state, I had to get my EIN before I could get my state and local business licenses.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001

It breaks down into three categories. Local, State, Federal. Sometimes these crossover and sometimes nobody knows who is responsible for what!

By far the MOST important is your small business tax kit from the IRS. Call them and ask for #454, the small business tax kit. Below is a link of phone numbers and locations of places where you can get some help.

Good luck

Joined Nov 29, 2001
A young man wanted to use our kitchen once a week to do food, then sell it at fairs. He was told that he'd need an inspected kitchen in which to do the cooking. This is Colorado and the arrangement of his cooking in our kitchen seemed to satisfy every need. His business would have been considered independent of ours.

The young man and his wife opted not to pursue the project because they found out they'd have to wait up to three months for their product labeling to be approved by the state and they didn't have that kind of time.

Not only do you have to satisfy statewide requirements but any local requirements as well. This can get quite complicated. If you're uncomfortable navigating various official websites, maybe a small fee to an attorney well versed in this would be worth it - simply to save yourself hours of pouring over stuff he/she has quick access to. Good luck!
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Thanks for you post chiffonade. I have and are continueing to speak with both state and local health dept.

I haven't begun looking for a lawyer or accountant specificly versed in THIS industry. But if you have any advice as to how I choose or find someone that would be welcomed information? There isn't anyone I know well enough locally in the industry to recieve personal recommendations from... So I was just planning on starting with my personal lawyer and seeing if he knew someone who specializes.

Any imput on questions I should be asking while searching would be very helpful?
Joined Oct 6, 2001

I would check with your local Small Business Development Center, Small Business Administration or your local S.C.O.R.E. (Retired execs).

The SBDC should be able to make sure you are meeting the right codes (or will know the name of the person who will know), set up a business plan, accounting system etc. Our SBDC has been a great resource to us (and many other small business owners we meet). Usually this is free.

The SBA can do many of the same things including setting up loans. In some cities these 2 orgs are one and the same.

SCORE is a group of retired/semi retired business execs/owners that work on a volunteer basis USUALLy coordinated by the SBDC or SBA . They have been there, done that and can help you make sure that your i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. They try to match you with people from within the industry. A great resource.

The other thing many cities are beginning to do is create a "First Point" office, usually funded by the city they have books and checklists pertinant to different area businesses. They can also point you in the right direction if your area has one in existence yet.

Good Luck!
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I'm so glad your brought up that name SCORE. I have been e-mailing questions back and forth to a gentleman there. I haven't heard back from him in a couple days so I was sort of wondering if there was a limit to how much advice you can get from them (i've only e-mailed 3 times so far). Until I saw your post I didn't know if others were familar with them. I'm not really aware of all they have to offer, yet. I pretty much stumbled on to them thru the SBA site.

This interests me VERY much. Did you take classes thru them or just speak with a counsler one on one?
Is the 'first point' office set up thru SCORE, or is that something else? My contact mentioned they were trying to set up an office in my town....right now their office is a good hours drive away.

Any info or advice about any classes you've taken with them or reference books pretaining to this industry would be delight me totally. Thanks a bunch!
Joined Oct 6, 2001
I used SCORE in DC -- limited only by when I could coordinate my work schedule with a reps schedule. It may be worth the time and drive to meet with them if you meet in person with all your questions in hand. (I would email a list of your questions or concerns to them ahead of time so that there aren't any hitches with quick answers.

Here in San Antonio I have used primarily the SBDC -- about 8 blocks away, very convenient. I've used both their consultation services and taken classes with them. Both helpful. Here, classes (already a reasonable price) are half price if you are a chamber member.

I will try and find out the name of the books system the First Point Office uses and let you know.

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