FAQs About Opening Businesses

FAQs About Opening Businesses

Starting a Business in Stillwater

A great place to start your research is the Oklahoma Department of Commerce's "Business Services & Startup Guide" website. You'll find a wide range of business information that will help your company have a successful start. 

Below, you'll find helpful links and frequently asked questions about starting a business in Stillwater.

Helpful websites


Q1: I would like to open a business in Stillwater. What do I need to know?

  • That’s great! The following frequently asked questions should get you started.

Q2: Are there any funding resources that I need to know about?

  • Commercial Loans
    Lenders look for a number of things when evaluating a loan application — a conservative business plan, a significant equity contribution, capable management, realistic repayment ability, good credit history and collateral.

  • Micro-loans 
    Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for information about loans. 

  • Commercial Venture Capital
    Venture capitalists have exacting standards for choosing an investment and often require some management and ownership control in the business. A good primer can be found on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. 

  • Kick Start it with Crowdfunding

  • Here's a summary of the types of loans you may be interested in: Entrepreneur Magazine.

Q3: I’ve heard that the City determines how many or which kinds of stores or franchises can operate within city limits. How do I find out if I can open my business?

  • The City does not determine how many or which franchises (including restaurants, retail stores or services) can open a business. The City welcomes all kinds of businesses because they generate sales taxes, jobs and provide useful services for our residents.

  • On the flip side of that question: Residents often ask why the City doesn’t have their favorite restaurant or store. To operate a successful business, retailers or restaurants must decide for themselves if Stillwater meets their business model. For example, does Stillwater have the right customer base? Are Stillwater residents interested in purchasing their product? After all, businesses are interested in making a profit.

Q4: Do I need a business permit or to register with the City to open a business in city limits?

  • The City of Stillwater does not require businesses to register or to apply for a business permit. However, there are some types of businesses that are required by ordinance to obtain annual licenses. The following licenses are issued through the City Clerk’s Office: Alcohol Beverage License; Bus Business License; Itinerant Merchant/Peddler License; Itinerant Merchant/Peddler License for Mobile Food Services; Low-Point Beer License; Pawnbroker License; Solicitor/Canvasser License; and Taxi/Limousine Business Registration.

Q5: Where do I need to register my business if not with the City of Stillwater?

Q6: Where do I find out how a property is zoned or what type of business is allowed by zoning?

  • The Zoning Map for the City of Stillwater is available on the City’s website.

  • Uses allowed by right or with a specific use permit are identified by zoning district in City Code, Chapter 23, Article VI.

  • For additional information, contact Development Services at 405.742.8220.

Q7: Can I run a business out of my home?

Q8: Why do I need a building permit? I’m only remodeling an existing building.

  • Building permits are necessary to ensure that the work performed, whether on a new building or on an existing building, is safe and that licensed and knowledgeable people are performing the work.

Q9: Why does Development Services provide tax information when it issues building permits?

  • When you apply for a building permit, Development Services (Per 11 OS § 43-101.2) will provide you a list of Oklahoma State taxes that may potentially be assessed against Oklahoma or out-of-state taxpayers. These taxes include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Ad valorem taxes

    • Aircraft excise taxes and registration fees

    • Employment security tax

    • Employee withholding tax

    • Franchise tax

    • Income tax

    • Motor fuel tax

    • Motor vehicle excise taxes and registration fees

    • Sales and use tax

Q10: Where do I get my Proof of Registration and Occupancy Permit and what do I do with them?

  • The Tax Commission requires proof of registration when an occupancy permit is requested. Proof of registration with the Tax Commission will be required upon request for issuance of an occupancy permit. Failure to provide proof will result in Tax Commission notification of nonregistration. The City of Stillwater issues a certificate of occupancy when permitted work is completed or when a change of use of a building occurs.

Content last reviewed 05.13.2020