Glossary of Business Terms

  • Business license - Permission granted by a governmental agency for a person to conduct business activity. This term is also commonly used to describe the Registrations and Licenses document issued by the Business License Service (BLS).
  • Business License Application - An application form on which you give basic information about your business such as the owner's name and address, the type of business structure, and information about any employees you have or will be hiring. After filing a Business License Application, your business is issued a Unified Business Identifier number on a Registrations and Licenses document - commonly referred to as a business license.
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  • Business Licensing Guide - An online tool that allows you to enter information about your Washington company and instantly receive a customized list of the related local, state, and federal licensing requirements you will need to know about. Downloadable forms are also available.
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  • Business structure - The way a business is organized, owned, and managed. Examples are: sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations. The laws governing the business will depend on the structure the owner chooses.
  • Corporation - A complex profitable, or not for profit business structure that has certain rights, privileges, and limitations on liabilities beyond those of an individual since it is a chartered legal entity. Doing business as a Corporation may yield tax or financial benefits, but these can be offset by other considerations, such as increased licensing fees or decreased personal control.
  • General Partnership - Two or more persons (usually not a married couple) who agree to contribute money, labor, or skill to a business. Each partner shares the profits, losses, and management of the business, and each partner is personally and equally liable for debts of the partnership. Formal terms of the partnership are usually contained in a written partnership agreement. (Same as partnership)
  • License - See also "Business license"
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) - A business structure formed by one or more partners or entities through a special written agreement. The agreement details the organization of the LLC, including provisions of management, assignability of interests, and distribution of profits and losses. LLCs are not permitted to engage in any form of banking or insurance activity for profit.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) - A business structure formed by two or more partners or entities through a special written agreement. The agreement details the organization of the LLP, including provisions for management, assignability of interests, and distribution of profits or losses. LLPs generally exclude partners from liability due to negligence of another partner. LLPs are not permitted to engage in any form of banking or insurance activity for profit.
  • Limited Partnership - A business structure composed of one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The general partners manage the business and share fully in its profits and losses. Limited partners share in the profits of the business but their losses are limited to the extent of their investment. Limited partners are usually not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.
  • Permit - Refers to a variety of licenses, permits, certifications and registrations provided by government agencies. A permit provides permission to do a specific government-regulated activity.
  • Prevailing wage - The hourly wage, benefits and overtime paid in the largest city of each county to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics. This is the wage employers must pay when they have contracted for a public works project.
  • Registered agent - Registered Agent is a person living in Washington that a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) has appointed to receive legal documents, including lawsuits, on behalf of the corporation or LLC. A registered agent may also be a corporation, partnership or limited liability company authorized to do business in Washington. Corporations, LLCs must have a registered agent.
  • Registration - See also "Business License Application"
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW) - The laws of Washington State.
  • Sole Proprietorship - A business structure represented by one individual or a married couple who are conducting business alone. Sole Proprietorships are the most common business structure. This type of business is simple to form and operate, and may enjoy greater flexibility of management, fewer legal controls, and fewer taxes. However, the business owner is personally liable for all debts incurred by the business.
  • Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number - The nine-digit number a new business owner receives after registering with the state of Washington. The UBI number links your business to many state and local government agencies that participate in the UBI program.
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  • Washington Administrative Code (WAC) - The rules adopted by state departments or agencies to carry out laws passed by the Washington Legislature.