Your Complete Guide to Starting a New Business in Kirkland

Share this article

A thorough business plan is the foundation of any successful small business. Once your plan is complete, you’re ready to begin taking practical steps toward your grand opening. Before planning the ribbon cutting ceremony, however, you need to learn how to navigate the ins and outs of doing business in Kirkland, Washington.

There are many important factors that will contribute to the success of your venture. You need to understand licensing and permits, zoning guidelines, financing, and how to build a robust infrastructure that will support all the needs of your business. To help make these steps simpler, we’ve created this comprehensive guide with all the resources you need to turn that business plan into a reality.

Business Licenses and Permits

Kirkland requires all businesses to be licensed. Fees collected from licenses help fund city services that support local business through the City’s Economic Development Program. Any type of business services that are being offered within Kirkland city limits need to be properly licensed, whether your business is from a fixed location or provides services at different locations throughout the city.

Business license fees in Kirkland are calculated based on the number of full-time employees. There is a formula to help you calculate the fee for your business on the city’s “Business License Frequently Asked Questions” handout.

A state business license is also required, and must be issued before Kirkland will release your city license. Depending on the nature of your business, there may be additional professional or county licenses required. Businesses such as daycare centers, gambling establishments, and places serving food and/or liquor require specific licenses in order to operate. Detailed information about all Washington state business and professional licenses is available from the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Construction and Zoning

Finding the perfect location for your business is tricky enough, but then you need to make sure that you are in compliance with all construction and zoning requirements. Kirkland requires permits for several activities including moving, setting up signs, demolition, commercial tenant improvements, as well as mechanical, plumbing, and electrical activities.

A comprehensive guide to business development planning and applicable municipal code can be found on the Planning and Community Development page of the city’s website. The city also provides a zoning map for easy reference.

Other than filling out paperwork and paying fees, you should also be prepared for the possibility of a pre-submittal conference with City staff prior to having construction or land use plans approved. Inspections are also required to make sure all buildings comply with approved plans, permits, and code requirements. To assist businesses in keeping track of inspections and inspection requirements, Kirkland provides an Inspection Request Checklist.

Business Infrastructure Solutions

After you’ve made it through the city’s labyrinth of permits, codes, inspections, and fees, you can start focusing on the inner workings of your company. Establishing the right framework for data networking, communications systems, and information security and backup is crucial. You want to make sure you have all elements you need, but it’s also smart to get the best deal available.

The easiest place to start is with a respected local provider that can take the time to get to know your business and help you integrate into the Kirkland business world. Seek a partner that understands the needs of new and small businesses, and knows how to recommend services that make sense for you.

The right provider will help you determine the pros and cons of Ethernet vs. Dedicated Internet and assist you in identifying your business phone system needs. It’s worth learning if there are any savings or benefits to bundling services rather than selecting each service a la carte. You also need to consider how you’re going to keep your company’s network and information secure. Investigate options for cloud backup, tech support, and protection against malware and viruses.

Don’t Go It Alone

Even though starting a new business may sometimes feel like it’s you against the world, you don’t have do this by yourself. The city of Kirkland has a wealth of resources and support services to help you build a business that’s going to last.

A key city department to keep on speed-dial is the Economic Development Program, which is staffed with people who are ready and willing to help you with everything finding the right location to getting through the permitting process. Contact information is below:

Economic Development Program


Another great resource is Development Services. This is a collaboration of the Public Works, Planning and Community Development, and Fire and Building departments of Kirkland. Whether you need assistance reading through a lease, understanding zoning and parking regulations, or just about anything else related to your business location and building, this is a one-stop resource to make sure you are in compliance. Contact information is below:

Development Services

Public Works 425-587-3800

Planning and Community Development 425-587-3225

Fire and Building 425-587-3600

Image by Joi Ito via Flickr