Ecwid for Small Business

How to Start a Small Business in Washington, D.C. (DC)

Starting a small business in Washington, D.C. can be a challenging feat. However, when you’re armed with good information, it can be much less of an uphill battle. Small businesses make up a whopping 98.2% of D.C. businesses, and they staff nearly half of the District’s workforce. While the local rate of economic growth is below the national average, it’s up from previous years and currently stands at 2.2%. If you’re interested in starting a small business in D.C., follow our step-by-step guide!

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Best Business Ideas for Washington, D.C.

If all you know about your small business is that you want to start one, that’s okay! Here are some of the best small business ideas for Washington, D.C.:

  • Fuel station
  • Specialty grocery store
  • Bar with an extensive happy hour menu
  • Parking lot business
  • Pulpit footrest repair (talk about a DC-specific niche!)

Whatever you decide you want to go into business for, it’s important to make sure you draft a solid business plan. Not sure how? We can help!

Planning Processes

Writing out your plans can be daunting, we get it. That’s why we have a step-by-step instruction guide to drafting your business plan.

1. Playing the name game

Choose a name for your business that is straightforward and doesn’t leave your customers wondering what you do. While there are some rules and regulations for naming your business, don’t let that discourage you. For example, Bar Nun Essentials is an excellent name for your pulpit footrest repair.

2.  Conducting market research

It’s crucial to get to know your market. Do search engine optimization research. Hold focus groups. Conduct surveys. You may find out surprising things! Bar Nun Essentials found out it may not have the broad customer base it originally thought it would.

3.  Structuring your business

LLC, corporation, nonprofit, partnership, sole proprietorship: which is best? It depends on what your goal is. Registering as an LLC provides favorable tax treatment, while a nonprofit is funded by donations, as opposed to investors. Bar Nun Essentials would likely work best as a corporation, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship.

Registering in Washington, D.C.

Get all the info you need about your business. Get your business’ name, employer identification number (EIN), and the name of your registered agent, then file those formation documents. Depending on the structure you choose, you may need different documents.

Congratulations: Bar Nun Essentials is now a registered business in Washington, D.C.!

Best Location for Your Business in Washington, D.C.

Before you decide where to set up your shop, it’s important to determine what your goals, visions, and needs are. Do you anticipate major growth? Will your business rely heavily on foot traffic? If so, it may be worth doing research on D.C.’s metro area. Consider opening near a popular Metro station, like Dupont Circle or Mount Vernon Square, and think about setting up an office space there. Whether you choose operating out of your studio apartment or the nicest office you can find, it’s important to ensure you have the proper documentation.

Banking and Accounting

We strongly recommend opening a separate bank account for your business. It will not only protect your assets in the event your business is sued, but will help you to better manage and track business expenditures. Opening a credit line in your business’ name will help you, as having established credit will make your business more attractive to potential lenders. We suggest hiring a business accountant or accounting software, as their services can help save your business thousands!

Ensure Your Business Is Insured

Business insurance is crucial to growing your small business in D.C. It’s a way to ensure your business avoids any unknown risks, like an employee stubbing their toe on the property, or a sewer rat chewing through your precious inventory. In Washington, D.C., businesses with one or more employees are required to have worker’s comp insurance.

Permits and Licensing

Depending on what kind of business you’re opening and where you plan on opening it, you’re going to need different licenses and permits. The best way to determine what your business will need is to conduct a search at a federal and state level and to call your clerk’s office and ask what is needed on a local level.

Hiring Employees

Hiring can be a very exciting time in a new business’ life. It can even be the first time things start to feel “real” to a new entrepreneur, being able to carefully craft exactly who represents their brand. However, it’s important to ensure your hiring practices are legal. This includes making sure you’re registered with the IRS for employee taxes, reporting new hires to the District, and filing for both unemployment insurance tax and withholding tax for the District. Once you have crafted your dream team, we recommend utilizing a payroll system. This will not only ensure your employees are paid on time but will help you to better manage your time.


Branding is fun for some, miserable for others. How do you make your D.C. small business seem unique and competitive? First, let’s start with the logo. Make sure your logo is representative of the brand and what you offer, and make sure it’s visually pleasing to your customer. Bar Nun Essentials thinks deep colors and a serious font works best to express what they do. You may decide dark, muted colors and graphics work best for your brand. There is plenty of software online that can help you if you’re stumped, too.

Branding also requires you to think about what your values are as a company. Do you believe pulpit footrests are one of the shoddiest pieces of furniture ever? Do you believe there is absolutely no need for an entirely separate business for pulpit footrests, and you’re not even sure they exist anymore? This might seem like an odd example, but it’s necessary to make it clear to yourself as much as to your customer the values your company holds itself to and what it can offer to your customers.

Do some personal reflection and truly embrace what your company believes in. Making sure these points strike home will ensure that your customers are in it for the long run.

Online Presence

In the day and age of social media, having an online presence for your brand is very important. While this may mean having a website and online store (if applicable), this also means opening accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. One of the best things you can do for your business is follow trends on social media. It makes you look hip and in-touch, and it will help your business flourish. Get creative!


Having an online presence is great, but what about marketing on those platforms? All legitimate businesses have a website. And, if we’re being honest, the less legitimate ones do, too. Unfortunately, social media profiles are not a replacement for a website. Having a professional website makes your brand seem trustworthy and reliable, and it offers better opportunities for branding.

If this seems to be way too much work, don’t worry! Companies like Ecwid help your store grow and succeed. They can help you create a beautiful, easy to navigate website while allowing you to market your products on other online platforms mentioned above. Ecwid even allows you to track your digital sales on a dashboard, where you can monitor your inventory. They’ll help make sure your Washington, D.C. small business is bound for success.

Start Your Business Online

Starting a business online is faster and cheaper.
Transform it into an offline business later.

Try now

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Go online

Start Selling Products & Services Online

You don’t have to worry about the office or warehouse if you choose to sell online. Save your time and money.

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Learn the basics

Starting an Online Store Business is Easy.
We’ll Show You.

So you’re ready to start selling online. Now the million-dollar question… where do you start?

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Read real stories

Get Yourself Ready
For Surprises

Check out our blog series all about starting an online store without prior experience. It‘s sort of like our own ecommerce reality show—starring Nicole.

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Find a product

Looking For Things
To Sell Online?

Discover best-selling products and how you can start selling them online and make money.

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Select sales channels

Catch Your Customers Where They Are

We’ll help you navigate through the market and find the most profitable channels.

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Start Your Business Online

Starting a business online is faster and cheaper.
Transform it into an offline business later.

Start Selling Online

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