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Federal, state, and local licensing laws all vary widely and create competing obligations. Don't try to save a few bucks by handling that stuff on your own. Failing administratively can end up costing you a lot -- and "that stuff' is the law.
Finding out What You Need
What you will need for your particular business of course depends on what you will be doing. Food service has different requirements than opening a doctor's office, and regulation of the sale of some items -- like liquor, gas, and guns -- is more rigorous than for other goods.
Restaurateurs will need permits from the health department while nightclub owners need the approval of the fire department. That's precisely why it is a good idea to hire an attorney to assist you. Your lawyer can look into and lay out what licenses and permits are required, help you apply, and ensure that you are in compliance with all of your obligations at every level.
An attorney is basically a trained administrator. Lawyers are experts at tedious but necessary tasks like filling out forms and applications. Although many forms will not technically require a lawyer to complete them, you will benefit enormously from an extra set of eyes and the administrative expertise counsel will bring to your paperwork.
The Price for Licensing
What the licensing and permitting services of an attorney will cost you is impossible to say without more information. First, it depends on the business you are getting into and the intensity of the requirements. Second, it depends on where the lawyer is located, experience, reputation, and whether they bill hourly or on a per-project basis.
Getting a liquor license from a locality is much more difficult than obtaining an Employer Identification Number from the federal government. Consult with counsel about your business and its needs before deciding permits are no big deal.
Getting the forms right the first time can save you much money down the line. Delays in permits and licensing can run up costs on a new business very quickly. You will never get to profitability until you get permission to start your business, so it's worth it to pay someone to administrate accurately.