Starting a Business

Readiness Checklist

Here’s a checklist to assist you in identifying the myriad of elements necessary to start a business. Also check out U.S. Chamber's Small Business Nation


 The Site

1. Have you decided on a location?
2. Have you found a good building?
3. Is it big enough to allow for growth?
4. Can people get to it easily?
5. Do you have adequate parking available?
6. Do you have a proper sign?
7. Have you signed the necessary papers?
8. Has a lawyer checked the lease and zoning?
9. Are the utilities in line?

Equipment & Office Supplies

1. Do you have the necessary office equipment?
2. Do you have a reliable source?
3. Can you afford to maintain proper levels of supplies and the upkeep of equipment?

Your Merchandise

1. Do you know precisely what will be sold?
2. Are you qualified to sell it?
3. Can you afford the suppliers' prices?
4. Can the supplier provide the services you need?
5. Do you know how to "merchandise" your goods?
6. Do you have the necessary inventory?


1. Have you planned a system of records for income, expenses, etc.?
2. Have you worked out an effective inventory tracking system?
3. Do you know how to keep payroll, tax, and payment records?
4. Do you know what financial statements will be needed?
5. Do you have an accountant, if one is needed?

Legal Records

1. Do you have all the necessary licenses and permits?
2. Do you know what business laws you have to obey?
3. Do you have a lawyer with small business expertise?



1. Have you made plans for protecting against both employee and customer theft?
2. Have you talked with an insurance agent about all the kinds of insurance you need?



1. Do you have a marketing plan?
2. Do you know how you will advertise?
3. Can you afford adequate advertising?



1. Do you know the selling price for each item?
2. Do you know your competitor's price?
3. Can you make a profit with the prices at which you intend to sell?
4. Do you have a pricing strategy for old merchandise or slow to sell merchandise?



1. Do you have a plan for determining what your customers want?
2. Is it both workable and affordable?
3. Do you have buying experience?
4. Do you have reliable suppliers?



1. Do you have a selling strategy?
2. Can you afford the necessary staffing?
3. Do you have a plan flexible enough to cover both the slow and peak times?
4. Are you and your employees experienced in selling?


1. Have you hired the necessary staff?
2. Do they have the needed experience?
3. Have you set personnel policies?
4. Do you have a benefits package?
5. Do you have a performance appraisal system?
6. Do you have a training program and procedure manuals for new employees?
7. Do you have an employee recruitment plan?
8. Can you offer employees insurance coverage?
9. Do you know what the total salaries and benefits will equal?
10. Can you afford this figure?



1. Will your customers have the option of buying on credit?
2. Have you arranged for the use of credit cards?
3. Do you have a method of determining good creditors from the risky ones?
4. Have you set credit acceptance procedures for the staff to follow?



1. Could you make more money working for someone else?
2. Can you afford the loss if the business fails?
3. Do you have a plan to repay debts?
4. Does your family support you completely?
5. DO you have the energy and time to run a business?
6. Do you have adequate funding?
7. Will you need to mortgage your home or use it as collateral?
8. Do you have managerial experience in each aspect of your business?



This checklist is an important tool in the planning of your new business. Each of these areas must be addressed by the entrepreneur. By following this checklist, the business owner can deal with many of the problems that face a new venture before they become major obstacles.


You're starting a business! It will be one of the toughest and most fulfilling experiences of your life. I have started several businesses and been through all the trials and tribulations of owning a business. Here are some factors that I believe are critical to success when starting a business:



Get Your Concept in Motion

Your most valuable tool is research. Learn everything you can about what you are going to sell or provide. Know your customer! The internet now brings the research you need right to your home or local library. There are hundreds upon hundreds of sites detailing business in Agriculture, Construction, Retail, Real Estate, and Professional Services and more. When thinking about a business you also need to use the old shoe leather concept and get out of the office and talk to someone who is doing the business you want to do. Maybe that business does not exist, but something very similar does exist. You will learn more in those meetings than you can read in a lifetime. Practical experience and using business experience someone else has been through is a valuable tool.


Register Here for Business Start Up Seminar

Business Planning

Put your thoughts about starting your business on paper. Businesses can’t exist without a business plan. The structure of a business plan helps assure that we haven't missed any of the key elements that could affect the success of your company in the short or long term. It limits risks. It could uncover problems that you may not see as an obstacle, but others in your type of business have found hard to overcome.


Funding, Funding, Funding

When starting a business there are basically three ways that it can be funded: from your own money, venture capital, and/or from loans. To obtain funding you must be able to show how money is made and spent. Understandably, it can be difficult to pinpoint cash flow details with accuracy when writing a business plan for a new business. Calculate to the best of your ability. Your business plan serves several purposes, not the least of which is to show lenders how they will be paid back if they grant your business a loan. Investors, who take on greater risk with start-up ventures, are looking for higher returns than they can get by investing in a more established company.


It is easier to obtain funding when you have assets to use as collateral for the loan. Many companies grow on revenues generated from its business. Only after being in business for many years can you solicit loans to finance a diversification effort and equipment purchase for expansion. A track record of business profitability, the company's cash flow and personal assets used as collateral will be factors that lead to successful funding.

Financing info 


Love What You Do

Business is not only about money; it is also about your passion. Starting a business takes a great deal of energy. You will find that the stress of a new business will make you crazy unless you love what you are doing. Obviously, every situation is different, and there is a lot of information to be gathered and work that must be done when starting a business. The following steps are basic, but they are fundamental to getting a company up and running successfully. If you’d like to assess your abilities and likeliness of success, take these quizzes:

Ask for help

The TN Small Business Development Center is a nonprofit organization that helps new entrepreneurs with advice regarding starting a business, business planning and modeling to funding. This is a free service for as long as you stay in business. They teach classes on startup, business planning, IRS taxation, and one-on-one counseling sessions by appointment. Take full advantage of the services offered by this organization contact Kasey Ferguson at 865-983-2241.


Business Start-up Requirements and Contacts

The following requirements are necessary for operation of most businesses. Certain types of business may be required to meet additional requirements.


Business License (TN Business Tax)

All businesses must register with their County Court Clerk within 20 days after beginning business, and pay the filing or business license fee. The filing fee is paid to the county clerk and/or city clerk. At this time, the clerk will assign the business a classification and gross receipts tax rate. Thereafter, the business pays the annual filing fee with the annual payment of the gross receipts tax.


Blount County Clerk
345 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804


City of Alcoa
223 Associates Boulevard 
Alcoa, TN 37701


City of Maryville 
404 W. Broadway 
Maryville, TN 37801


IRS Identification Number

All businesses need an IRS identification number. Obtain a Form SS-4 (application for Employer Identification Number) from:


Internal Revenue Service
801 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203


Tennessee Employer Identification Number

You must obtain a TN Employer Identification Number if (1) you are liable under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act; (2) the business has a total payroll of $1,500 or more in any quarter of the tax year; or (3) the business has at least one employee, full- or part-time, on any day during 20 different weeks of the tax year. Obtain your number from:


Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Employer Services
500 James Robertson Parkway
Davy Crockett Tower, Eighth Floor
Nashville, TN 37245-3555


Sales Tax Number

Any business liable for collection and payment of the sales and use tax is required to register with the Department of Revenue. Obtain a Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Registration from this department.


Tennessee Department of Revenue
500 Deaderick Street
Andrew Jackson State Office Building, Room 1200
Nashville, TN 37242-1099
615-253-0600 or 800-342-1003 (in state)


Worker’s Compensation

If you have five or more full- or part-time employees and are not exempt from the provisions of the Worker's Compensation Act, you must obtain Worker's Compensation coverage for all eligible employees immediately. You can obtain this insurance from your local business insurance agent. For more information, contact:

Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Division of Worker's Compensation
610 James Robertson Parkway
Andrew Johnson Building, Eighth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0655


Unemployment Insurance 
Every Tennessee employer is required to pay unemployment insurance. Contact:


Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Division of Employment Security
500 James Robertson Parkway
Davy Crockett Tower, Eighth Floor
Nashville, TN 37245-3555


Social Security (FICA)

If you have one or more employees, you must deduct the employees' part of Social Security taxes (FICA) from their wages and report these deductions, along with payment of your part of these taxes and all deductions of income taxes made from employees' wages on Form 941. Each employee must fill out a form W-4. Obtain these forms from the IRS.


Internal Revenue Service
710 Locust Street
Knoxville, TN  37902

Free Federal Tax Assistance: 800-829-1040
Free Federal Tax Forms or Publications: 800-829-3676


Corporate Charter Application

To apply for incorporation of your business, contact: 
Tennessee Secretary of State
312 Eighth Ave. North
William Snodgrass Building, Sixth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-3795


Zoning and Land Use Regulations 

Your initial contact is usually with the Planning Department where the overall concept of your development is explained to staff. The Planning Department administers the Land Development Regulations and can provide information on zoning restrictions and requirements for a specific parcel of land. Any changes or variances requested to accommodate the development may require action by the Maryville City Council, City Council of Alcoa, Blount County Planning Department, Maryville Regional Planning Commission and/or Board of Zoning Appeals.  


John Lamb, Director

Blount County Planning Department
Blount County Courthouse
327 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804-5906
Phone (865) 273-5750
Fax (865) 273-5759


Gary Ferguson, Director Commissioner
County Department of Environmental Health
1006 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN 37804
Phone (865) 681-9301
Fax (865) 681-9502


Roger Fields, Building Commissioner
Blount County Building Commissioner for Zoning Matters
1006 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway                          
Maryville, TN 37804
Phone (865) 681-9301
Fax (865) 681-9502


Matthew Widner, Codes Official
Blount County Department of Building Safety 
1006 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN 37804-5906     
Phone: (865) 681-9301 / Fax: (865) 681-9502 


Occupancy Permit

If you are opening a business or are changing the type of business that previously occupied the property you are considering, you will need a Use and Occupancy Permit prior to opening the business. Home-based businesses and childcare centers are required to have Use and Occupancy Permits.


Building Permit

Any business that plans to build or make renovations is required to have a Building Permit prior to construction and occupancy. If expansion plans are more than 5,000 square feet, a licensed architect must prepare your plan.


Sign Permit

Any new signs or alterations to existing signs displayed on the exterior of the building or on site, whether permanent or temporary, require a sign permit. For information and needed permits, contact:


City of Maryville
Bobby Parks, Planning & Codes


Inspections, Planning & Codes Departments
City of Alcoa 
Planning & Codes Department
Chris Hamby, Director
223 Associate Blvd.
Alcoa, TN  37701
Fax: 865-380-4744


Assistant City Planner
Jeremy Pearson


Codes Enforcement Officer
Gary Holloway


Richard "Chipper" Wyatt


Electrical Code and Inspections
Larry Stargel, Chief Engineer


Mike Lindsey, Engineer Assistant


Public Works & Engineering Department
Kenny Wiggins, Director
1050 Springbrook Road
Alcoa, TN  37701
Fax: 865-380-4803


Streets, Storm Sewer & Erosion & Sediment Control:
Andrew Sonner, P.E., Assistnat Director/Chief Engineer


Sanitary Sewer & Water
Simon DeVente, P.E. Assistant Director/Chief Engineer


Public Works Inspections
Kenny Hendrix, Inspector


Larry Harper, Inspector


Blount County
Planning Department
John Lamb, Director
327 Court Street
Maryville, TN  37804-5906
Fax: 865-273-5759


Department of Building Safety
Matthew Widner, Codes Official
1006 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN  37804
Fax: 865-681-9502


Zoning Matters
Roger Fields, Building Commissioner


Environmental Health
Gary Ferguson, Director


City of Maryville
Economic Development Planning & Codes
Maryville Municipal Center
416 West Broadway
Maryville, TN  37801
Fax: 865-273-3525

Business Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m for lunch)
Inspector Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.


Christine L. Venice, Director


Scott Poland, City Planner


Tom Weitnauer, Community Planner


Bobby Parks, Building Official


Department and Agency Contacts

Specific types of businesses may be subject to unique regulations. Small and entrepreneurial businesses should be aware of these regulations and the agencies that oversee them.


License, Permits & Registrations

Blount County:
Liquor -
Local Knoxville ABC Office at (865) 594-6342. The Knoxville Alcoholic Beverage Commission is at 322 Nancy Lynn Lane, Suite 14

Beer Board & Liquor Permit - 
City of Alcoa 
223 Associates Boulevard 
Alcoa, TN 37701

Blount County Courthouse
345 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804-5906
(865) 273-5800

City of Maryville 
404 W. Broadway 
Maryville, TN 37801
865-273-3452 or 865-273-3457

Use of Streets and Sidewalks
City ordinance for Maryville:

City ordinance for Alcoa:


Real and Personal Property Assessments

City ordinance for Maryville:


City ordinance for Alcoa:


Regulations for Agri-Businesses

State of Tennessee
Department of Agriculture
Ellington Agricultural Center, Public Affairs Office
Box 40627, Melrose Station
Nashville, TN 37204


Liquor Permit

Alcoholic Beverage Commission
226 Capitol Boulevard Building, Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37243-0755


Hotel and Restaurant Inspection

Division of General Environmental Health
425 Fifth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37247


Environmental and Pollution Control Permits

General information
Department of Environment and Conservation
401 Church Street
L & C Tower, 21st Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 532-0104 or (888) 891-TDEC


Air Pollution Control
401 Church Street
L & C Annex, Ninth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1531

Division of Solid Waste Management
401 Church Street
L & C Tower, Fifth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1535

Division of Underground Storage Tanks
401 Church Street
L & C Tower, Fourth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1541

Division of Water Pollution Control
401 Church Street
L & C Annex, Sixth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1541

Department of Radiological Health
401 Church Street
L & C Tower, Third Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1532

Small Business Clean Air Technical Assistance Program
401 Church Street
L & C Annex, Eighth Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1551
615-532-8012 or 800-734-3619


State Sales Tax Registration/Franchise, Excise Taxes - corporations only

Department of Revenue
Taxpayer Services Division
Andrew Jackson Building, Third Floor
500 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37242
615-253-0600; 615-741-2461; or 800-734-3619 (in state)


Approval of hospitality brochures to be placed in Welcome Centers

Department of Tourist Development
312 Eighth Avenue North, 25th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243


Commercial Driver’s License, Chauffeur and Special Chauffeur License

Department of Safety
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37210


Professional and Occupational Licensing Agency
Department of Tennessee Regulatory Boards 
Davy Crockett Tower
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-0565


Utility Regulations

Tennessee Regulatory Authority
460 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37245-0505
615-741-3939 or 800-342-8359


Health and Environmental Issues

Department of Health
Division of General Environmental Health
Cordell Hull Building, Third Floor
Nashville, TN 37247-0101


Mandatory safety and health working regulations for employees

Division of Occupational Safety and Health
710 James Robertson Parkway
Andrew Johnson Tower, Third Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-6642
615-741-2793 or 615-741-6642


Click on the provided link for a list of current TOSHA compliance directives. Each directive is linked to an electronic copy of the document named in the title unless otherwise noted. For information about these directives contact the Manager of Standards and Procedures at (615) 741-7036.


Child labor restrictions and regulations governing payment of wages

Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Division of Labor Standards
710 James Robertson Parkway
Andrew Johnson Building
Nashville, TN 37243-0657


Consumer complaints about unfair and deceptive trade practices

Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-0600
615-741-4737; 800-342-8385; or fax 615-532-4994


Unfair competition or use of trademark

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection – Anti-Trust Division
425 Fifth Avenue, North
Nashville, TN 37243


FEDERAL: U.S. Commissioner of Patent and Trademarks

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Washington D.C. 20231
703-308-4357 or 800-786-9199