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How to Start a New Business in Pennsylvania

Reviewed by Ty Crandall

November 7, 2023
New Business In Pennsylvania Credit Suite

Starting a Business in Pennsylvania

A new business in Pennsylvania is not out of reach. So have you been wondering: how do I start a business in Pennsylvania? And more importantly, can I do so no matter what the economic conditions are? Can I start a new business in Pennsylvania during a recession?

New Business in Pennsylvania: Pros and Cons

Pennsylvania is in the middle set of ten states to start a new business in, per a 2016 article in Business Insider.  The state scored well on potential employees’ education levels and availability of employees.  But the state has the lowest rate of new business owners in the nation.

Also, the Keystone State has 0.18% of its adults opening new companies in a given month.  The state also scores low for opportunity share of new business owners. This is as compared to the rest of the country. These issues give the state one of the worst startup activity scores listed.

Recent Changes for the Better

A 2018 article in Forbes agreed. Pennsylvania hit the number 30 slot for where to start a new business. But CNBC, in 2022 put Pennsylvania at number 17.

So, what gives?

First off, keep in mind all three sites use differing methodology. But these numbers aren’t, truly, too far off.

CNBC gave Pennsylvania kudos for education (#5) and technology & innovation (#7). But the Keystone State was in the middle of the pack for most of their other metrics. Its economy was a terrible #45, while its cost of living clocked in at #32—nothing to write home about.

Forbes ranked Pennsylvania pretty well for quality of life and business costs. It was in the middle of the pack for economic climate. But it was below average for labor supply and regulatory environment.

Note: some discrepancies in quality of life and other rankings have to do with some subjectivity in this area. And some differences may be due to how radically different the cities and countryside of Pennsylvania can be. There’s a reason it’s sometimes called Pennsyltucky.

So only you can decide if Pennsylvania is right for you. And make your determination if you’re looking for a Pennsylvania business in a city or smaller suburbs or rural areas, as there will be appreciable differences.

New Business in Pennsylvania: Initiatives

Strong sectors in Pennsylvania are high tech and manufacturing. Both are getting stronger as a result of focused investment in programs by the state. Also, technology startup companies in particular are benefiting.

There is also a focus on export trade as a big part of Pennsylvania’s economic development. Furthermore, the state has several programs, including the Small Business First Program. It is meant to specifically help small businesses in several sectors.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania Credit SuiteStart a New Business in Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Top Industries

Per the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the top industries in Pennsylvania are manufacturing, tourism, and agribusiness. More top industries are natural gas and plastics. Still more are the life sciences, and also Shell in PA.

As in most states, the health care and social assistance sectors are also large employers.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Business Ideas

Smart business owners can find new opportunities.  Work with bigger industries in the state. Offer goods or services such as food service, hospitality, and transportation. More ideas are trucking for any industry. Also try computer support such as data and programming. Another idea is the development and distribution of safety equipment.

Here is how to start business in Pennsylvania.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania New Business Secretary of State Requirements

Register a Business Name

Fictitious (DBA) business names must be registered, per the official Commonwealth of Pennsylvania website.


Corporate names must be unique. Do an extensive search to see if a name is available. Start by searching online records and other archives and catalogs. Or call the Corporation Bureau at (717) 787-1057 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. to check name availability.

Corporate Name Reservations

If a business owner decides to reserve a corporate name before they plan to file Articles of Incorporation, they can submit a name reservation application by mail or fax. This application goes to the office of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State. There is a fee of $70.00 for name reservations. The name will then be reserved for 120 days.

Go to Reserve a Pennsylvania Corporation Name on the Pennsylvania Secretary of State website for more information on name availability and reservations.

Business Permits and Licenses

Visit the Department of State Online Licensing page and consult the list of boards and commissions. They handle licensing.

Local Permits and Licenses

So check with your local municipality, city or county office or website. See if there may be any local licensing or permit requirements.

For example, in Philadelphia, go to the Department of Licenses & Inspections’ Business page. It is on the city of Philadelphia website.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Business Registration

File online with the Pennsylvania Department of State. Or look for the forms you need on their website.

Register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, online or by paper registration forms.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Virtual Offices

Alliance offers Pennsylvania virtual business office space in the following cities.

Eastern Pennsylvania

Alliance’s eastern Pennsylvania offices are in Allentown, King of Prussia, and Bala Cynwyd. They also have space in Bensalem, Malvern, and Philadelphia. In addition, they have space in Plymouth Meeting and Radnor.

Western Pennsylvania

Alliance’s western Pennsylvania offices are in Erie.

Go to DaVinci for Pittsburgh and Wayne.

However, for Harrisburg and Scranton, and other parts of the state, either try Regus or ask local business owners. Or try computer user groups to see if they can help in this area.

More options may be virtual business office space in nearby states. These are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and also West Virginia.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Establish Business Credit

Company credit is credit in a business’s name. It doesn’t connect to an owner’s individual credit, not even when the owner is a sole proprietor and the solitary employee of the small business.

Therefore, a business owner’s business and personal credit scores can be very different.

The Advantages

Since business credit is separate from individual, it helps to safeguard a business owner’s personal assets, in the event of court action or business bankruptcy.

Also, with two distinct credit scores, an entrepreneur can get two different cards from the same vendor. This effectively doubles buying power.

Another benefit is that even startup businesses can do this. Heading to a bank for a business loan can be a recipe for disappointment. But building company credit, when done the right way, is a plan for success.

Consumer credit scores rely on payments but also other considerations like credit usage percentages.

But for small business credit, the scores really only hinge on whether a company pays its debts punctually.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – Company Fundability™

Growing business credit is a process. A company needs to be Fundable to loan providers and vendors.

Consequently, a small business will need a professional-looking web site and e-mail address. And it needs to have site hosting bought from a merchant such as GoDaddy.

Likewise, the company telephone number should be toll-free (800 exchange or comparable).

A company will also need a bank account devoted only to it, and it must have every one of the licenses essential for operation.

Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service

Visit the IRS website and get an EIN for the company. They’re free. Pick a business entity such as corporation, LLC, etc.

A business can begin as a sole proprietor. But they should switch to a variety of corporation or an LLC.

This is in order to decrease risk. And it will maximize tax benefits.

A business entity will matter when it pertains to tax obligations and liability in case of litigation. A sole proprietorship means the entrepreneur is it when it comes to liability and tax obligations. Nobody else is responsible.

And never look at a DBA filing as being anything more than a steppingstone to incorporating.

Setting off the Business Credit Reporting Process

Begin at the D&B web site and get a free D-U-N-S number. A D-U-N-S number is how D&B gets a business into their system, to generate a PAYDEX score. If there is no D-U-N-S number, then there is no record and no PAYDEX score.

Once in D&B’s system, search Equifax and Experian’s sites for the small business. You can do this at www.creditsuite.com/reports. If there is a record with them, check it for correctness and completeness. If there are no records with them, go to the next step in the process.

By doing this, Experian and Equifax will have activity to report on.

Vendor Credit

First you should build trade lines that report. This is also referred to as vendor credit. Then you’ll have an established credit profile, and you’ll get a business credit score.

And with an established business credit profile and score you can begin to get more credit.

These types of accounts have the tendency to be for the things bought all the time, like marketing materials, shipping boxes, and office furniture.

But to start with, what is trade credit? These trade lines are credit issuers who will give you starter credit when you have none now. Terms are usually Net 30, instead of revolving.

Therefore, if you get an approval for $1,000 in vendor credit and use all of it, you need to pay that money back in a set term, like within 30 days on a Net 30 account.

Vendor Credit – It Helps

Not every vendor can help like true starter credit can. These are merchants that will grant an approval with a minimum of effort. You also need them to be reporting to one or more of the big three CRAs: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.

You want 3 of these to move onto the next step.

Information on how you can Discover 7 Easy Vendors to Start Building Business Credit Immediately - without a Personal Credit Check or Guarantee via Credit Suite

Monitor Your Business Credit

Know what is happening with your credit. Make sure it is being reported and deal with any mistakes ASAP. Get in the practice of checking credit reports. Dig into the specifics, not just the scores.

We can help you keep track of your business credit at major CRAs for considerably less than it would cost you at the CRAs.

Update Your Records

Update the info if there are mistakes or the information is incomplete.

Start a New Business in Pennsylvania – A Word about Building Business Credit

Always use credit smartly! Never borrow beyond what you can pay off. Track balances and deadlines for repayments. Paying punctually and in full will do more to elevate business credit scores than virtually anything else.

Growing company credit pays. Good business credit scores help a company get small business loans in Pennsylvania. Your loan provider knows the small business can pay its financial obligations. They understand the small business is bona fide.

The small business’s EIN links to high scores and lending institutions won’t feel the need to request a personal guarantee.

Business credit is an asset which can help your company in years to come.

Learn more here and get started toward opening a new business in Pennsylvania.

Want to start a new business someplace else in America? Then check out our handy guide to starting a business in any state in the country.

Pennsylvania’s Response to COVID-19

What is Pennsylvania doing about COVID-19? On March 16, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf strongly urged non-essential businesses across the state to close for at least 14 days to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The Keystone State’s main economic response is to direct businesses to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to get low-interest loans. Another suggestion was the Department of Community and Economic Development and their working capital loans could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19.


On March 25, Governor Wolf announced there was more financial assistance available for small businesses. This is a a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA).

By April 11, the Northeast Pennsylvania Alliance started exploring options for small businesses in the region.

About the author 

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Janet Gershen-Siegel is the seasoned Finance Writer and a former content manager at Credit Suite. She has been admitted to practice law for over 30 years, with a focus on litigation and product liability, and is a published author, with writing credits at Entrepreneur, FedSmith.com and BusinessingMag.com.

She has a BA in Philosophy from Boston University, a JD from the Delaware Law School of Widener University, and a MS in Interactive Media (Social Media) from Quinnipiac University.

She regularly writes for Credit Suite, which helps businesses improve Fundability™, build credit, and get approved for loans and credit lines.

Her specialties: business credit, business credit cards, business funding, crowdfunding, and law

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