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How to start an online business in Pennsylvania?

Over the last decade, the internet has become a huge marketplace. E-commerce has created a competitive landscape where an increasing amount of entrepreneurs are launching new ideas every day. You can start an online business in Pennsylvania with ease, and become a part of the online startup revolution. This guide was created to provide a brief outline of how to start an online business from home in Pennsylvania. We will go over topics that include vital information such as trending ideas, the preparation of a business plan, licensing and permits, regulatory requirements, and marketing your online business.

Online Business in Pennsylvania

An online Business is also known as an e-business (electronic business) and it encompasses any form of business or commercial transaction that occurs over the Internet. E-commerce refers to an online business and this term has often been used interchangeably with e-business. If you’re planning to start an online business in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to understand the difference. An e-commerce business conducts online transactions, while e-businesses provide services and activities utilizing the Internet.

Example: If you start an online business from home in Pennsylvania and offer IT Consultancy or website design, then it will be known as an e-business. If you start a website that offers food products or apparel and a customer has to make a payment online to buy your product, then it will be known as e-commerce.

What are the biggest benefits of doing business online in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s strategic location allows the state to be well-connected to the rest of the nation. The state boasts of a state-of-the-art infrastructure, a strong transportation network, and access to a skilled workforce. If you want to start an online business in Pennsylvania then it’s time to focus on some of the benefits of operating an online business in this state.

  • Access to the Internet – The most important component for any online business is reliable access to the Internet. Access to the Internet has grown in Pennsylvania from 81.2% in 2015 to 93.2% by 2020. According to a study by the Pennsylvania State University, access to the Internet has grown in Pennsylvania from 81.2% in 2015 to 93.2% by 2020. A federal program called the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program has also been initiated in Pennsylvania to help increase access to high-speed Internet.
  • Lower start-up costs – Startup and operational costs are a major concern for any new business. A lower startup cost is one of the top advantages when you start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania. Depending on the type of startup and inventory, the operational costs would also be significantly lower than that of a traditional company. The state of Pennsylvania also provides several incentive programs for small businesses including grants and other funding programs.
  • Flexibility – You can start an online business in Pennsylvania from your home or even from co-working spaces. This provides flexibility to an e-business while ensuring that you can reach out to customers in the state, the nation, and globally. You can even adjust your work schedule for your convenience to successfully balance the responsibilities between your work and personal freedom.

Top online business ideas in Pennsylvania

Whether you want to start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania or any other type of online business, the state provides many resources and incentives. If you’re still trying to decide which type of business you want to start, here is a list of top and trending online business ideas to choose from:

  • Dropshipping – This business model is one of the highest trending online business ideas today. Dropshipping is a fulfillment model where you as an entrepreneur outsource the handling and shipping of a variety of products to a third party. To legally operate this type of business, you will require an online business license in Pennsylvania. This particular type of business model is popular due to its high efficiency and low overhead.
  • SEO specialist – Due to increasing demand, this has become one of the most favored online business ideas. This could be the right business model for if you want to start an online business from home in Pennsylvania. The role of an SEO specialist or expert is to identify online marketing strategies and tactics that will help increase the number of visitors to a specific website.
  • Graphic Designer – Graphic design has existed since the advent of advertising. Easier access to high-speed Internet and the availability of a myriad of digital tools have made it one of the best online businesses to start. If you have the necessary skills then you can easily start this type of business from your home.
  • Mobile Apps Development – The advancement of technology has reached unparalleled heights with mobile application development. This involves creating software for smartphones and tablets, as well as digital assistants. Mobile apps are used across all industries from retail and telecommunications to health, advertising, and insurance. You may need to obtain an online business license in Pennsylvania to conduct this type of business.
  • Virtual Assistant – A virtual assistant (VA) is a type of specialized service that can perform a wide variety of tasks. A virtual assistant is also known as an independent contractor and can provide administrative services to customers based on their requirements.

Starting an Online Business in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is also known as the Keystone State, and it is home to diverse industries composed of companies that started from home, e-commerce businesses, and traditional companies. If you have a great idea and want to start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania, then you will need to understand and follow the state’s small business guidelines. The following processes will help you understand the state and business-specific requirements, as well as the documentation needed for your online businesses.

1. Prepare your Pennsylvania online business idea and plan

The first and foremost area to focus on before you start an online business in Pennsylvania is creating a strategic plan. This will be your business plan and it’s a detailed outline that will set the course and determine the success of your online company. This type of plan refers to the starting phase, operational, financial, and marketing aspects. It’s important to remember that the plan should be designed based on the products or services offered. Because it will be based on the requirements of each e-business, no two plans can be similar. Some of the key components of the plan include:

  • Business objective
  • Business structure
  • Mission and vision
  • Short and long-term goals
  • Defining risks
  • Market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Customer or targeted audience research
  • Products and services
  • Revenue model
  • Logistics and Operations plan
  • Internet marketing strategy
  • Financial plan

2. Choose your Pennsylvania online business name

Once you have an online business idea, the next step is to register it with the state, which will allow you to become legally operational. Choosing a good business name is a chief requirement to become legally operational in the state. The name you select will not only be used to register your company in the state of Pennsylvania, but it will also serve other purposes such as banking, marketing, and booking a domain name among others. Here are some general tips for choosing the right name to start an online business from home in Pennsylvania:

  • Keep the e-business name short, simple, and memorable.
  • The name should have a connection to the product or services offered.
  • To reserve the business name with the state of Pennsylvania, you will need to check the name availability.
  • Follow all business naming guidelines as mentioned in the Pennsylvania Consolidated and Unconsolidated Statutes.
  • Ensure the availability of the domain name for the chosen e-commerce business name.

Another important detail to consider is the type of entity structure you want to operate. If you plan to start an LLC or corporation, you can reserve a business name or even choose a DBA (Doing Business As) also known as a fictitious name.

3. Register your online business with the Pennsylvania Department of State

In order to make a business operational, you will need to apply for an online business license in Pennsylvania. However, it is important to register your e-business first. This process is known as a new business formation or incorporation and will vary depending on the type of entity structure you have chosen. So, if you choose to form a limited-liability company, then you will need to submit a Certificate of Organization or Articles of Incorporation for a corporation.

We at IncParadise are among the top reputable Pennsylvania registered agents in the state, and have a team of experienced professionals who can help you with the online business registration or incorporation process. We’ve helped many new business owners start an ecommerce business in Pennsylvania.

Start your online business in Pennsylvania today!

4. Obtain all necessary licenses and permits for your online business

Once you’ve registered your e-business with the state, the next step is to obtain the necessary online business license in Pennsylvania. Licenses and permits will help you to conduct transactions in the state and the licensing requirements and regulations will vary according to:

  • The city or county you operate from
  • The industry your business is based in
  • Business activity

Some businesses may even be required to obtain professional or occupational licenses and permits. If you start an ecommerce business in Pennsylvania then you may also require a sales tax license. The Pennsylvania business licensing requirements (industry and local), regulations, and Pennsylvania business licensing and permit requirements are a complex and extensive application process. For this reason, IncParadise has created a “Business License Research Report” service to provide necessary assistance. This is a detailed report containing a list of filing instructions, supporting document requirements, and the fees for all business licenses and permits in this state.

5. Buy a website domain and build an e-commerce website

Choosing the right domain name is both essential and important when planning to start an online business in Pennsylvania. Your domain name is an integral part of your website’s address and you can use your state registered name for this. The name you choose for your domain will help your customers find your website. It’s important to ensure that the domain name is easy to remember and may even describe what the site is about. There are two ways by which you can obtain a domain name:

You can register the domain name yourself directly using a domain name service provider, or
you can outsource it to a hosting provider specialist to register it for you

Example: You are planning to start an online business from home in Pennsylvania that will be focusing on IT consultancy. The chosen name is Phili IT Consulting. Now you can use this name as a domain name like or you can opt for something easier like Of course, there is always the question of availability of a specific domain name as well.

6. Get an EIN and File your taxes

Apart from an online business license in Pennsylvania, another important requirement for most e-commerce businesses is to file your taxes. Your business activity, entity structure, and annual sales will determine the type of taxes you will have to file, and you will need an employer identification number (EIN) to do this. This is a type of Tax ID number that is issued for free by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

7. Open a bank account

If you want to start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania, or any other online business that offers products or services then having a separate bank account is highly recommended. This account is known as a business bank account or checking account. Since customers will be submitting their payment online, you will need a payment gateway, as well as a proper bank account for receiving funds. The account will also help you with keeping track of your sales revenue and expenses.

One of the modern-day alternatives is a full-stack Neobank for startups called Cheqly. It’s a regular US bank account that you can start online from anywhere. This account allows you to transfer money quickly, easily, and locally in Pennsylvania, or anywhere in the USA and internationally.

8. Comply with taxes and other regulatory requirements

Once you start an online business in Pennsylvania, you will be required to comply with annual maintenance as well as tax requirements of the state. Some of the important requirements include:

  • There are different types of taxes applicable in the state of Pennsylvania. The type of taxes that your e-business needs to file will vary according to the business activity and entity structure. If you start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania, then one of the mandatory taxes that you will need to file is the sales tax. You may also be required to file personal income taxes.
  • As a part of annual maintenance, you will be required to file a Decennial report. The laws will change soon, and you may be required to file an annual report each year starting from 2024-2025.
  • Once you’ve obtained an online business license in Pennsylvania, it is important to maintain your renewal. The renewal time and fee may vary depending on the issuing authority or the county your business is operating from.

9. Market your business

Building a new business from scratch requires many strategies to work simultaneously and in sync to achieve success. If you start an online business from home in Pennsylvania, the next part of your strategy should be to focus on marketing the services, products, or the brand itself. You will need to contrive a plan that will help drive customer traffic to your website or online store. Some of the important areas to focus on include:

  • Using search engine optimized (SEO) content.
  • Create a strong email marketing strategy while continuing to build your email list.
  • Boost your digital engagement by using different social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, etc.
  • Use of Mobile commerce (m-commerce) to reach out to the targeted customers.
  • Use Google Ads for search engine marketing and advertise on various social platforms.
  • Create meaningful partnerships with other brands to enhance cross-promotion.

Looking to start an online business in Pennsylvania?

You can start an online business in Pennsylvania based on trending e-business ideas. Pennsylvania provides high speed Internet access and other infrastructural support and resources to help you establish your brand. There are specific processes that you would be required to follow based on Pennsylvania’s Consolidated and Unconsolidated Statutes. IncParadise can assist you with ensuring that you can start an e-commerce business in Pennsylvania with ease.

IncParadise is one of the most reputed registered agents in Pennsylvania with complete knowledge of state business laws, regulations, and annual maintenance requirements. We also have a team of experts who can guide you through the process of starting your online business in Pennsylvania.

Start a Pennsylvania e-commerce business!