For many, owning a business is an important part of the American Dream, but transforming your business dreams into reality requires careful planning and dedication. This guide can help you dot every "i" and cross every "t" as you lay the foundations for a successful business.
First things first...This guide assumes you have the basics — a business idea, marketing management plans, and your budget.
If you need help getting started, the Small Business Administration and PA Department of Community and Economic Development can offer valuable advice. You may even qualify for grant money to help get your business up and running! Let's start!
Want a copy of this handy guide? Click here to download a printable PDF!
So... You found the perfect West Reading location for your business. Before you sign a lease or buy a property, make sure the current zoning will accommodate your business. To ensure that your new enterprise can operate legally for many years to come, this step is absolutely critical. Make an appointment with the West Reading Codes Department. They can explain how the borough is organized and where certain types of businesses are permitted.
After you've verified that your business meets West Reading's requirements for your potential location, file an application for a Zoning Permit and pay the accompanying nominal fee. Whether your application is approved or denied, you still have options.
Before you make any changes, you'll need to verify that your property meets the required ADA compliance for the type of business that you are opening. Officially, painting doesn't count as renovation, so feel free to celebrate your zoning approval with a fresh coat of paint!
If you don't need any renovations beyond painting, please check your required ADA compliance with the borough, address any issues, and then move on to the occupancy permit (Step 4).
If you need to renovate your location beyond painting or are planning to change the basic use of your property, you should discuss the required permits and ADA compliance needs with your architect, builder, or licensed contractors. Keep in mind that any plumbing or electrical work needs to be performed by a professional who is licensed to perform services in West Reading Borough. If you find that you need significant upgrades to meet ADA requirements, you may seek a variance from the PA Department of Labor and Industry.
After you've finished renovating, your location will need to pass a final inspection in order to obtain an occupancy permit (Step 4) before you begin operating your business.
Don't worry... There's still hope! If your zoning permit was denied, you can file an appeal. You need to arrange an appeal hearing with the Zoning Hearing Board, which can be scheduled through the Codes Department. The appeal process costs approximately $1,500, and while a lawyer isn't required, it is a formal hearing with a court reporter - so it's best to play it safe. If your appeal is successful, you may be granted a variance that authorizes you to operate your business in the location you desire.
The location is ready, your business plan is sound, and all of your hard work and dedication is about to pay off. Now, you need to get an occupancy permit. Call the Codes Department and schedule an inspection of your property. A successful inspection will result in an Occupancy Permit that allows you to open your doors!
Now that you’ve officially joined the West Reading community, register your business for free on our website, Love West Reading. Hundreds of people visit the website every month and they’re looking for businesses just like yours! You can also join other businesses that care about the community by becoming a Business Association Member.