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Roadmap for 2022 Business License Requirements and Filings

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Do you wish you were more organized and confident about managing your business license portfolio? When it comes to researching, filing, and renewing business licenses and permits, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Our experts will walk you through the different types of business licenses and also discuss the importance of establishing a centralized process to manage your research and renewals.

Webinar transcript

Disclaimer: Please be advised that this recorded webinar has been edited from its original format, which may have included a product demo. To set up a live demo or to request more information, please complete the form to the right. Or if you are currently not on CSC Global, there is a link to the website in the description of this video. Thank you.

Caitlin: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "Roadmap for 2022 Business License Requirements and Filing." My name is Caitlin Alaburda, and I will be your moderator. 

Joining us today are Brian Bartnicki and Calla Heathman. Brian is the senior business license sales engineer at the forefront, assisting customers with their industry-specific requirements, which range from research, portfolio management and renewal services. Brian has worked with CSC for more than a decade, offering his expertise in the field of license compliance. Calla is a sales engineer that supports the Corporate Legal Services group at CSC and is based in Wilmington, Delaware. Since joining CSC in 2015, Calla focused on B2B relationship management and consulting to find solutions that best fit the needs of new clients. And with that, let's welcome Brian and Calla.

Brian: Thank you, Caitlin. So let's talk about who we are as an organization. That's what the first agenda item that I want to address. Before I get there, I do want to dive into what we're going to talk about through the rest of the session. We're going to go into the types of business licenses that are out there in the world. We're going to talk about some license management questions that you really need to take into account when it comes to managing your licensing process. We're going to talk about the importance of really having a streamlined workflow when it comes to managing these, some of the consequences that can arise if you don't have that in place properly. Then we're going to dive into how CSC can help. We offer a multitude of different facets of licensing options. Really, you could listen and see what fits your organization best. And then we're going to end with a Q&A. You type your answers in, and Calla and I are more than happy to address them at that appropriate time.

So as promised, who are we here at CSC? We've been around for quite a long time, since 1899. So really a cool, fun fact, we've been around for three centuries and two millennium. I find that really fascinating. We were really founded initially in Delaware. Our headquarters is still there today. But we've expanded all across the globe. We support customers in many, many different types of industries and services. Some of those are law firms, financial institutions, some of the largest brands in the world. In some capacity, 90% of the Fortune 500 does business was CSC. And today, we have just under 3,000 employees who work for the organization.

But you didn't attend this session just to listen to me talk about CSC. You came here because you're really interested in learning about business licenses. So I think it's important to take a step back and first really dive into what do we mean by business license. Some of you might have different hats, you have different responsibilities. And a license to you might mean something completely different than another individual. So I think it's really necessary to dive into that specifically.

A business license is not necessarily just incorporating the organization, whether it's a corporation, an LLC, a limited partnership. Again, whether it's in Delaware, Nevada, or anywhere else across America, you're probably filing with the secretary of state office. Additionally, once you do that, you have these obligations to maintain your good standing, where you're also physically filing an annual report or some jurisdictions call it an annual franchise tax. Those are really annual report filings.

A business license in our world and the universe that we're going to speak in today really dives into the nuances, whether they are industry-specific related, and I'll talk to some of these in a couple seconds, or potentially local, city, county, village, township, borough licenses, that are really going to be more general related for maybe your offices or places that you're doing business across the country.

They're all called different things, and that's kind of the real challenge here. There are truly, you know, so many filing authorities out there, literally hundreds or thousands that, you know, knowing what every jurisdiction calls a license is just very difficult to understand.

So just some common ones, from a knowledge perspective, that you probably may run into, you might hear about an occupational license. You might have a privilege tax license. Maybe you have, you know, local tax receipts. Or some of you might have professional licenses, maybe those of you in the accounting world. 

But then, of course, every business is different. Some of you are in regulated industries and trades. You might be a contractor, an architect, an engineer. Some of you might have, you know, retail licenses. Maybe you have point of sale for your scanners. You might have, you know, fire permits, alarm permits, those types of things. You might even have a little food establishment or food licenses for candy and such. Those of you that are in the hospitality world, you might have food establishment licenses, you might have liquor licenses, you might have to sell tobacco, lottery, right, all these different variables.

And those of you in the insurance world, you have your own set of regulatory terms. Those could be adjusters, surplus lines, producer licenses, third-party administrator license, and I can keep going on. But the key here is when we're talking about licensing, this is the type of world, again, these local-related or industry-specific types.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to now let Calla take over, and she's really going to talk about the key questions and concerns that you need to be aware of when really managing these.

Calla: Great. Thanks, Brian, for reviewing some of those common and very industry-specific licenses that even some of you may have in your portfolio today. Now, as you mentioned, we're going to switch gears a little bit and review some of those key questions or concerns that we really do experience throughout each different stage of the licensing process while we're speaking with customers just like you.

Step one in the licensing cycle is always to just try to understand your license requirements through the research phase. It's really the first step to understand what you need moving forward. So one of the major or most common concerns and questions that we've experienced over the last few years and counting has been surrounding remote workers or remote employees. So how does that impact license requirements?

And the true answer is that it's always changing every day. More and more authorities are imposing remote working rules, and there are many different things that could trigger those requirements or if you may need to look into those. Are those employees remote full-time or just part-time where they're doing maybe a hybrid? Or is where they reside inside or outside city limits that would impose a requirement? Or even if their job functions, what are they? Are they really helping drive that company revenue, or are they just simply conducting administrative work and not necessarily adding to that bottom line?

All of these things can impact those types of requirements that a jurisdiction may impose, and it's certainly one of the most common questions that we've been hearing over the last, again, two years as we change the landscape of our working environment.

Secondly, is there really a need for industry-specific licenses? You know, Brian just went through all of the types of licenses or at least some of those that you may see, depending on what your business activities are and what products or services that you offer. And that's when these specific requirements can trigger and you may need to meet those.

In this phase, we really often experience the confusion on how those specific licenses may be regulated. Are they regulated by states? Sometimes are they regulated by cities or counties? Another thing to consider is, how do you know what to choose if maybe there's multiple disciplines in the industry? You know, Brian went over construction, architecture, engineering, different industries, Maybe there's classifications or things for different professional services that you offer.

And this could also be a question if you are not necessarily working in a very regulated industry, that Brian mentioned. So trying to understand, what is the need for you with those industry specific licenses?

We also often run into customers asking the question, do we, you know, as a business have the appropriate resources to manage all that effectively internally? Many individuals or teams that are actually tasked with the preliminary research have other responsibilities, or Brian mentioned wearing many hats for the organization. So is there really enough manpower behind getting the right results? Does the person or the team have the ability to physically call each issuing authority and possibly confirm those requirements? Are there time restrictions, right? Do these folks have other job responsibilities that maybe wouldn't allow for them to have the best review of the results?

So all of these are incredibly common questions that we experience when talking to customers every day in the research phase.

Aside from research, we hear about the challenges through the filing process or initial filings, right, getting set up once you've done that research. So after there's that requirement identified, now you have to meet that requirement. So most commonly we hear about the challenges in understanding which forms to use to file or where or how to actually file them.

So, as mentioned, many licenses have different classifications, or there could possibly be multiple applications listed depending on your business specifically, your activities and where you're operating. So there definitely could be confusion on which applications you may need to use. 

Also, there's really no uniform filing method. So Brian mentioned, you know, we have hundreds of thousands of filing jurisdictions, and each authority has the ability to determine how you need to submit or what their rules are with that. So some may have online options, but maybe they aren't so user friendly or require logins that maybe you forgot or you don't have yet. And others may still need to be originals or mailed in for you. So there could be multiple options, and every license is going to be different.

So let's say you're able to go ahead and get that filing submitted, but once that's complete, then there becomes that period of unknown, depending on how the filings are sent out. Again, if they're sent by mail, do you have tracking? Do you know when it made it to the jurisdiction? Or even if you file online, did you get confirmation? Was it accepted? Or did they just not reply? Is there a turnaround time? Or how could you understand the status of that filing if you're really not receiving updates, really which are rarely sent, or you don't have someone behind the scenes that's able to allocate the time to follow up with those jurisdictions? Again, because those updates are not uniform and more likely than not you may not receive them.

Lastly, if you're filing licenses, you know that when it comes to getting set up to do new business in new places or get new licenses, that work really always needed to be done yesterday. So that question then remains: Can these authorities move faster for you? Is there any way to do this quicker? And most licensing authorities really don't have a traditional expedite option, but rather just that preferred method of filing that's going to be accepted faster. So since you can't really opt to pay more to get a quicker result, that level of follow-up again needs to happen, and is really that something that we can allot a lot of time to every time you're filing a new license or every day.

After the licenses are submitted and the expiration dates are received, we meet really the next and final challenge as we face the renewals. So one thing that's really never consistent across licenses is when they're actually required to be renewed. So a lot of the licenses have different renewal triggers, like individual licenses for birth dates or anniversary dates of when you organized that organization or even periods of time throughout the year that are specified depending upon the licenses.

It's very unlikely that all of the licenses in your portfolio or any given portfolio would follow the same schedule. So the challenge then becomes keeping up with those requirements as you may have different jurisdictional licenses and industry-specific licenses, which will all follow different rules.

Aside from really the renewal application portion, there may be other documentation required in order to process a renewal. And that, you know, is something that we encounter a lot is really how will I know what else is required to submit? There could be financial information or bonds or background checks, even fingerprints, or other supporting documents that need to be submitted alongside of just a renewal or in conjunction with those filing forms. So, in some cases, it may not be very clear as to what you need to supply, but it also may not be listed on the renewal. So you may need a separate check sheet or something to go along with those supporting documents or that actual application that maybe was sent to you or supplied.

Now, lastly, and most likely the largest task of licensing and most common across everything from a challenge perspective that we all face is the availability of centralized data, not only centralized but something that's accurate and provides the most transparency across all of the licenses held within the organization and across multiple people in the organization since those licenses may need to go different places or be accessible to others. And more often than not that question is raised as to, how could the license portfolio be managed better if maybe there isn't a central repository of information or if it isn't easily accessible in other places?

Brian: So now why don't we dive into assessing the importance of why you really need to have all of your licenses in line, making sure that you have everything in compliance, and to make sure that there are no issues when it comes to managing them on a day-to-day basis.

The first consequence that's important to bring out is simply that if you don't have your licenses in order, there could be a delay in providing certain products or services. So just a couple of examples that come to mind that I think some people maybe you may have familiarity with this industry, but some of you might be in lending or collection, right? If you don't have those particular financial licenses in order, you're physically not able to do that type of work.

Some of you might be selling insurance. But if you don't have the appropriate licenses in place, there are severe, severe, heavy consequences for selling without it. So you physically, as a result, can't sell without having them in place.

Again, there's many other types. Some of you might be in manufacturing, right? You might have new products that you're delivering or, you know, distributing out across the country.

So you really need to make sure that you have all of that in order. And if you don't, it's just really going to put a freeze on your ability to launch that particular service.

Another that you might run into is simply just the inability to bid on an opportunity. We really see this when it comes to more of those trade industries. You know, maybe there's a RFP in there, and you're bidding on a job, trying to win a bid for maybe you're going to erect a building, or you're going to do some architecture or landscaping work, right? Or you want to bid on land to build a different development. If you don't have the appropriate licenses in order, you may just lose out. It could be part of the opportunity that those organizations have to be licensed to even go through with that particular process. You don't want to miss out on anything in that regard.

Negative press is one that we really don't think about all the time, but it comes up more than you think. I don't know if many of you on the line happen to be hockey fans, but recently, actually about a month or so ago, one of the NHL hockey teams in their particular state, out in the West, had an issue where they were not paying or not keeping up their local license in the city up to date. And it turned out that the city threatened to lock them out of the arena, not allowing them to play if they didn't pay really the fines for not paying and not keeping the license up to date, and they hadn't renewed it in two years. Something that literally is a couple of hundred dollars. You know, they actually, the city had to go and really initiate this to really get the negative press out to get them to comply. It seems like an extreme example, but it is absolutely true.

The other is simply regular fines and penalties. Some jurisdictions might say, "Well, you don't have a license in San Diego, don't worry about it. It's $35." That might not be the case. I'm just throwing that jurisdiction out, right. Some jurisdictions could have a flat fee of $300, $100. Some jurisdictions though could base penalties of non-compliance off of other factors, such as maybe square footage of a building, maybe gross revenue in a jurisdiction, or potentially maybe how many employees are working within a location or providing services.

And based on these factors, fines and penalties can become quite large. You know, instead of, you know, $100 or $25, you could be talking about $30,000, penalties, $50,000 penalties, potentially, depending upon how these authorities want to enforce it. And the challenge is, to go back to what we talked about, it's such a big universe of authorities out there that to know how they're going to enforce it, who's going to have inspectors checking on your locations, who's going to really be a stickler, who's not, it's just really hard to really get your head around that. And as a result of all those things, you could ultimately end up with litigation for not having yourself compliant.

Sometimes business closures come into play. You might have situations where you don't have a license posted, an inspector comes in, maybe you get a warning. Someone forgets to file it on the site. It's really not their main responsibility. Maybe it's done in corporate. And before you know it, the health department comes down because you didn't renew a particular license, and they shut down the restaurant or the location simply for just, you know, not renewing the license, sometimes with no warning.

And depending on the situation, you know, you can lose thousands and thousands, right, on not being open. Depending on when it occurs, and during what time of the week, it could affect you for multiple days. So business closure really is kind of another step to leverage these authorities to make sure that you comply with their regulations.

And arrests actually do exist in this world when it comes to licensing beyond closure. Sometimes as a result to get your organization compliant, some authorities will physically result or really go to arresting someone on-site as collateral and close the business until that's been rectified. But many times, arrests could actually occur on-site if a jurisdiction deems that that's the necessary action to take to really make your company comply with their particular licensing regulations.

Calla: Great. So now that we've talked about not only challenges behind licenses or consequences of not being in compliance, and obviously those questions earlier, let's really just discuss how CSC can tackle those types of uncertainties for you and your business and how we can help.

So first and foremost, CSC has an entire division of individuals that solely work in the business license world. And so partnering with CSC will give you access to our tenured customer service specialists, our dedicated research analysts who solely focus on research, and an entire support team that's not only behind them, but behind our portfolio management system. We do take a very customized approach to each of our customers given that there's really just never one shoe that fits all. So we want to make sure that our solution is going to be the best fit for you.

As mentioned previously, and Brian gave us some background on the time frames, being in business since 1899, CSC really just has unmatched knowledge and the experience in not only the business, but the corporate compliance world here. With our long-standing relationships and things, you know, how long we've been in business, we've definitely cultivated those relationships and built them very strong. We have a strong network of contacts and resources across the filing jurisdictions nationwide. And that also just allows us to support companies in all U.S. jurisdictions. So where you grow, we can grow with you.

And then most importantly, we don't outsource any step of this license process. So when you're working with us, you can really trust that CSC is going to keep all of your information safe and secure not only within CSC as an organization but within the technology that we offer to house some of that data that we'll speak to further in just a little bit.

So aside from our outstanding team of folks behind the service, we do have a suite of services to help answer some of those key questions surrounding licensing and provide you with a full-service licensing solution. So we talked about some of those challenges behind research, and whether you're expanding by operating a new physical location, maybe you hired a new remote employee, right, or you're offering those products and services in a new state, or even if you're just trying to understand what you have on file currently. Maybe you don't know what your license portfolio looks like, or maybe you think you're missing something or just truly don't know what applies to you.

CSC can conduct that research and be a partner for you to identify the license requirements that are not only general or common, like Brian went over earlier, but also specific to your business activities. And then with that, we can also help identify if you currently have something on file with a jurisdiction and what that may look like for you, so filling some gaps within your portfolio if you need us to.

Along with taking over a task of research or the ability to take that task off of your plate, CSC is able to assist with filings. So, for new licenses and any regulations or permits that arise from research, we can be able to fully prepare with your company information or things that we already have on file, file those applications and help you understand some of those complexities of which applications are right or what supporting documents need to go along with that, and also file those licenses with the filing authorities on your behalf. So we can take care of some of those additional steps that may cause some problems today.

Once the research and all of the initial filings are complete, that task of tracking and managing that we've been speaking about from the expirations and just the overall data to understand what you have, CSC can step in and monitor those data points for you, the expirations of the licenses, again physically renew the registrations as they're reaching those expirations, and really provide that tracking and management system to give you visibility and storage of information and the ability to see what's on file, when they've been renewed, and find the maintenance of anything thereafter.

With all that being said, I did mention that we have a full-service solution for you, and that is CSC's license outsourcing service. So CSC truly becomes an extension of your in-house team and fulfills the role of a licensing department. We can then track, monitor, prepare, and file those licenses that are inside your portfolio today.

And while CSC conducts those administrative tasks, we will also maintain the data. And so, through our technology, you can see every data piece and documents, you can see your orders, your copies, and just have that full visibility or transparency into the licenses.

So with all of that being said, we are going to take this time to introduce you to that technology that we keep speaking about and the portfolio of information, which would be the CSC license portfolio management system, where every license and document that CSC would be managing for you would be housed.

So this comprehensive technology is accessible anywhere that you have an internet connection, as it is a web-based portal. So that means that you have the ability to view your license information anywhere that you are and at any time with no limitations. This really gives you the ability to just see everything in one place, and we keep bringing up centralization and the visibility or transparency into the information. And this is really the central method for that. So it'll give you the ability to see everything from version control, the data is accurate, and just the transparency not only into what licenses you have, but maybe what CSC is doing on your behalf or the copies on file and different things that can impact the licenses.

You're able to just realize the prevention of penalties and missed filings, because partnering with CSC and utilizing the technology it allows us to be able to monitor the expiration dates, and your team within CSC is going to be proactively completing those filings, again understanding when the licenses are expiring, any jurisdictional nuances, and making sure that we're taking care of those filings for you and updating you inside the technology so you can view all of that alongside of us as we're processing the work.

So with the implementation of outsourcing and CSC's portfolio management system, you can have dependability without compromise here at CSC, because we're able to become, again, that true extension of your internal team, to be acting as that trusted advisor for you and making your life easier as it relates to those licenses inside your portfolio.

So there's a few things that you can benefit from or what you'll realize within our service. We will definitely allow you to streamline your workflows while mitigating the risk for the organization. We allow for the increased internal efficiencies through that centralized, simplistic technology, where you can spend more time focusing on other tasks. Again, we mentioned a lot of people have other hats to wear within the organization. But then you may still need access to your licenses, and you can access that information quickly and with ease within the CSC technology.

You can implement some of the industry best practices through our research services and the filings here. And then lastly, we are providing you with this technology that comes inclusive with enhancements and security, and it's truly unmatched to keep all of your company data safe and secure. And again, part of that is understanding that, when working with CSC, you're only working with CSC, so we can always understand where is your information, where is your data, and who is touching that for you in the way of security.