DON'T MISS A BEET
Business Licensing >>
Food Licensing/Permitting >>
Manage your Business >>
Buy Food Supplies >>
Buy Packaging Supplies >>
Local Food-Related Networking Groups >>
Resources for Food Trucks >>
Helpful Articles >>
Small Business Resources >>
GET EDUCATED AND GET FUNDING
Local Seattle non-profit Ventures (formerly Washington C.A.S.H. provides access to inexpensive business training, capital, coaching and hands-on learning opportunities for entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential. ^^
WA Secretary of State
While the specific business structure you choose may vary based on a number of factors, about 80% of the food businesses we run across choose the structure of Limited Liability Company (LLC), and about 20% choose to Incorporate. Once you have decided on which structure is the best fit for your business, visit the WA Secretary of State website and register there first.
WA State Business License
All businesses in Washington State need a state business license to operate. Learn more here.
City of Seattle Business License
If you plan to operate in our kitchen or sell or produce food anywhere in the City of Seattle, you also need a city business license.
Get an EIN from the IRS
If you plan to hire employees or open a bank account, you will also need to obtain a free Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. ^^
King County Department of Public Health
Keep your business on the up-and-up by getting properly licensed. If you are planning to retail (as in, sell food directly to consumers), get licensed by the King County Department of Health.
King County Permit Login
If you have already paid for your permit but you either have not received a copy, or lost your permit and need a new one, you can obtain a copy online instead of waiting for the health department to send you one. You will need your "PR" number to register for an account. If you don't know your PR number, call King County Environmental Health at (206) 263-9566.
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)
If you are planning to wholesale your product (as in, sell to a company who is planning to sell it to consumers), you'll need to become a food processor and obtain approval from the Washington State (WSDA) for proper licensing
Food Handler Permits
Anyone who is handling food will need a food handler permit. They cost $10 and the class, which only lasts about 45-60 minutes, can be taken online 24/7. Every worker in the kitchen should have one and Seattle Commissary Kitchen requires vendors to provide copies of cards for all food workers to keep on file.
For Mobile Food Vendors
The City of Seattle publishes some great information for mobile food vendors (for example: food trucks). Read about it here.
If you will be building or getting a food truck, it is important that you are also aware of all of the regulations from the WA State Department of Labor & Industries ("L&I") ^^
MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS
When I Work for Scheduling Employees
While there are a couple of great employee scheduling apps out there, we recommend When I Work because it integrates with the Payroll service that we love and will recommend below. Check out When I Work to schedule employees, track attendance, and collect job applications.
Gusto for Payroll
Gusto is the best, modern payroll service available on the market for small businesses up to 250 employees. Gusto makes onboarding new employees and processing payroll a breeze. When processing with Gusto, you don't have to worry about filing any taxes or other state reporting (New Hire Reports, L&I, ESD, or Federal). Plus, it makes sending job offers and other essential new employee documents (Employee Handbook and more) extremely easy. If you decide to sign up, please use our referral link.
QuickBooks for Bookkeeping
Whether you plan to do your own bookkeeping or hire a bookkeeper or accountant, you should consider getting a QuickBooks Online (QBO) account. This is the most commonly used software for small business and all accountants and bookkeepers should be familiar with using it.
Business Insurance from C Don Filer Agency
Business insurance should not be complicated or expensive. 80% of our kitchen members use a local insurance company in Seattle called C Don Filer Agency (Shari Lofquist is our representative). Insurance costs are estimated for most of our food vendors to be between $250 and $500 annually. Call Shari and she will have you insured within 1-2 days (we have even had vendors who call her in the morning and are insured by the afternoon.)
Branding from Hero Creative Media
If you don't have a logo, photos, promotional video, or a website yet, consider getting a quote from local Seattle firm Hero Creative Media.
Great Food Photography
Business Impact NW is a non-profit that specializes in small business loans and education.
If you have time to wait, you can typically get inexpensive printing (business cards, menus, and more) from Vistaprint. Use code VPBC500 at checkout for a discount on business cards.
LOCAL NETWORKING GROUPS
Don't go it alone! Check out these awesome local membership groups.
Seattle Made is an initiative of Seattle's Good Business Network to grow and support our local Seattle manufacturing and producer economy. If your business makes a physical product in the city of Seattle—anything from bikes to biscuits to recycled goods and more—and you want to collaborate with other local producers and manufacturers to find and share the resources you need to succeed, join today! Membership is free.
Seattle restaurateurs can join in on the first Wednesday (unless otherwise stated) of each month between 10-11:30 a.m. for monthly membership updates. At these meetings, a range of topics relevant to the local restaurant industry are discussed.
RESOURCES FOR FOOD TRUCKS
Northwest Mobile Kitchens (NMK) custom builds high quality Food Trucks, Catering Trailers, Promotional and Mobile Business Vehicles. Our commitment to excellence in design, craftsmanship and culinary knowledge has earned NMK a reputation as the leading builder of mobile kitchens in the Pacific Northwest.
If you have anything to do with food trucks in Seattle, this is an essential resource! List your food truck on Seattle's #1 favorite food truck resource, where customers can view daily schedules to find and book their favorite trucks.
The Washington State Food Truck Association was officially launched in April of 2015, as a 501c6 non-profit advocacy organization, hoping to help food trucks succeed in this very competitive industry. They aim to serve as a central hub of communication & information, a catering referral & information source, and provide local and state-level proactive lobbying and advocacy.
BUY FOOD SUPPLIES
If you're going to be feeding people, you'll need food supplies.
BUY PACKAGING SUPPLIES
Packaging, business cards, etc. - you may need it all.
More knowledge is better.