For those thinking about starting a construction business, there are seemingly endless things to consider, from financing to staffing. One of the most critical yet confusing steps is licensing.

License requirements arise from an array of federal, state, county and local regulations and often differ dramatically from region to region. Industry data suggests that business owners can spend up to 20 hours researching their licensing requirements.

A new free online wizard from Wolters Kluwer’s BizFilings is designed to help business owners quickly see a snapshot of how many licenses they need. The Business License Wizard can help existing business owners make sure they are in compliance, or new founders make location and other strategic decisions as they set up a new business.

The online tool gives users a free snapshot of the city, county, state, and federal permits and licenses required for a business based on location and industry. BizFilings can then help obtain the permit and license applications, saving customers dozens of hours of research.

“Along with incorporating, getting the right licenses and permits is a critical early step in the journey of starting a business,” says Jennifer Friedman, vice president of BizFilings. "Many owners are surprised to know just how many licenses are required in order to operate legally. The Business License Wizard is a quick and easy way to figure out what documents are needed.”

Almost all small businesses in America are required to obtain permits and/or licenses of some kind; the paperwork required depends on the industry and area in which the business operates. For example, a plumbing and heating contractor opening a new business in Coral Gables, Fla., may need a total of nine federal, county, state and local licenses and permits. The owner of a contracting business in California could be required to obtain seven in various jurisdictions.