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IASourceLink Blog

Do I Need a Business License?

Posted by Kyle Coogler on Sep 08, 2022

So you want to start a business in Iowa and want to know what kind of business license you need to get started? Well, your search is over, because IASourceLink can help! The term “Business License” is a little misleading, at least in Iowa. It isn’t as simple as getting a single license and you are given the “Go” to operate your business. There are also things like registration, sales and use tax permits, unemployment insurance for your employees, and yes, licensing. 

But wait, didn’t you just say there isn’t really a “Business License”. Well, yes and no. Here’s an example that should help you better understand this.

You are wanting to start a food truck business in your city, and want to know what you will need to get started. While using a truck or trailer in your personal life would only require you to register the vehicle with the DOT (just like your personal car), because you are using the truck or trailer for sale of food, that’s where the additional licensing comes into play. Iowa regulates individual industries and businesses depending on the type of goods or services the business offers / sells. 

So for our example, you as the business owner would need to obtain a Mobile Food Establishment License as you may park your truck or trailer at a single location for up-to three days and return “home” every night. But it may not stop there. Let’s suppose you purchased pre-packaged potato chips, cookies, pop, or some other type of food that your customers will take and bake at home or consume at home. You may need to obtain a Retail Food Establishment License to legally do this. There could be more licenses you need to obtain, which may relate to the refrigeration of your food, specifically if the food could be potentially hazardous to your customer (contains eggs or raw or uncooked items).

Regardless of the type of business you operate, it’s always important to conduct a search for applicable licensing requirements, other than just registration, text permits, etc. In all actuality, there may not be additional licensing for your business, which isn’t a weird thing. There are literally thousands of businesses you can start and only about 450 business licenses in Iowa, many of which are only relevant to extremely niche businesses. IASourceLink is home to the Business License Information Center, a searchable database of those 450 business licenses Iowa has to offer. Search for free today!

IASourceLink is also home to a whole host of other resources for Iowa business owners and entrepreneurs who are just starting or growing their business. Our extremely popular Start a Business Guide details the steps mentioned above, like writing a business plan, registering your business, obtaining sales and use tax permits, hiring and managing employees, and more. 

Our Fund Your Business Guide talks about different strategies to fund your venture, such as asking friends and family for funding, finding an angel investor or SBA Loan, and even government grants. Are you looking to grow your business? Exit your business? Sell your products online? We’ve got you covered there too!

Our Calendar shares entrepreneurial events that are going on both in-person and online from across the state. These events are mainly hosted by our nearly 400 Resource Partners who provide free to low-cost business consulting and assistance services to entrepreneurs just like yourself. Search for a partner near you and connect with people who can help you with starting a business, tax services, economic and site development, marketing and sales, and more!

Last but not least, the Panther Biz Hub (PBH) is a student-led program based out of the University of Northern Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Since 2018, the PBH has helped over 30 small businesses from across the state with their digital marketing needs, digital education, and overall web presence. The PBH’s newest offering is a comprehensive database of educational tools, including 300+ free online courses for small business owners who are motivated to learn and grow their business skills.

If you have any questions about starting a business in Iowa, feel free to contact our team by calling or texting (319) 273-5444, or email info@iasourcelink.com.