Starting a business can be overwhelming at times. If you want to start a business in Alaska, you may not even know where to begin. However, starting a company does not have to be a daunting task. This article will cover everything you need to know about starting a business in Alaska.
There are 12 main steps to starting a business in Alaska, so you’ll find everything you’ll need to know, from choosing your idea to marketing your business. Follow this step-by-step guide, and you’ll find yourself the owner of a company in Alaska in no time!
All successful businesses start with an idea. Coming up with a business idea is not as difficult as you think it may be. It is as simple as answering a few questions and expanding on the answer.
Here are some questions to formulate a good business idea to get you started:
- What are my passions and hobbies?
- Can I turn what I love into a viable business?
- What skills do I have?
- How can I use my experience and knowledge in this business idea?
- What gaps are there currently in the Alaskan marketplace?
- Is there a demand for my business idea in Alaska?
Answering the above questions should help you find a business idea and determine whether it is something you might be able to turn into something successful and marketable.
Another way to choose a business idea is by actively seeking what people need. Ask your friends and family; they’re great to bounce ideas off. You could also create an online survey asking participants to express what they feel the market lacks. Or perhaps it’s something you have noticed is missing. There are so many ways to determine a gap in the market.
Choosing the right name for your business is very important because people will base their first impressions of your business on your name. Anybody can pick a name, but to be successful, you need to choose a name that represents your business perfectly. From the name, people should be able to see what your business is. Your name should be memorable and unique.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some creative ways to choose a name:
- Create a list of words that pop into your head when you think about your business idea. This part of the process is purely creative, so don’t think too hard about what words to write down.
- Use a thesaurus. While it is old-fashioned, a thesaurus has many synonyms you can also use as inspiration. Visit this online thesaurus to get started.
- Host a brainstorming session with some friends and family. This is a great way to come up with potential business names.
- Use an online name generator. Name generators are a great asset when it comes to choosing unique names. You can use this online name generator to start deciding on names.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing a name for a business in Alaska:
- Your name should follow the guidelines set out by the State of Alaska. You can find the regulations here.
- The name must be unique and not already registered with the Alaska Department of Commerce. You can conduct a search using this link.
- Your name cannot include any words or phrases that may cause it to become confused with a government organization.
Having a business plan is an essential part of starting your business. Your business plan will include every piece of research you have conducted so that you know precisely what you need to do, how to do it, and how much it will cost you.
Every good business plan should at least include the following:
- A brief summary. This part is the “pitch.” It sums up who your business is, why you have started it, and what customers or investors will gain from it.
- Describe your business. In this part of the plan, you will describe everything about your business. For example, the name, location, services offered, and even what staff members you will need.
- Describe your goals for the business. Here, you can set yourself smaller milestones and larger goals.
- Include all research. And finally, include all the research you have done for your business that may interest potential investors. There is no limit on what you can include here.
A well-written business plan is great for potential investors to decide whether or not they would like to fund your new business. However, if you aren’t sure where to start when drafting a business plan, you can easily find a template online!
Starting a business requires money to cover start-up costs. While finding funding can be cumbersome, below is a list of different ways to get funding for your business.
Applying for a grant is a good way of getting funding as you don’t need to pay it back. You will find more information about grants on the Small Business Association website for Alabama.
You could always apply for a loan if you do not qualify for a grant. Banks and other private institutions will listen to business ideas and pitches and decide whether or not to give a loan to support the business. Unlike a grant, you must pay back a loan and a fixed interest rate.
Investors are a great way of acquiring funds for start-up costs. Just be aware of what terms and conditions come with the money. Of course, you could also turn to friends and family to invest in your business. However, be sure whatever agreement you come to is written in a contract and signed by both parties – no matter how close you are.
You can provide the capital for your business using your savings and current income if you have the means.
When choosing what business structure to use, you have a choice of four main types: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation.
The business is not separated from its sole owner in a sole proprietorship. Because none of the company and personal assets are separated, the owner is personally liable for the business. This structure is suitable for businesses with minimal risk and smaller customer bases.
A partnership is just like a sole proprietorship, except that the business has multiple owners who are liable for the company.
This business structure is a hybrid between a sole proprietorship and a corporation. An LLC offers the liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility of a sole proprietorship. This structure is suitable for both small and large companies.
A corporation is a separate legal entity that multiple shareholders and investors own. This type of business structure is best suited for large companies. There are two types of corporations: C corps and S corps. Which one you decide on depends on the size of your company.
Once you have chosen your desired business structure, you must register the business to be legally allowed to operate. Below, you will find the process of registering each business structure.
In Alaska, there is no formal setup required to start a sole proprietorship. Instead, you can simply start working from day one.
Registering a partnership in Alaska is done by following the provided steps below:
- Choose a name for the business
- Register the name with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
- Complete the required paperwork with the Alaska Secretary of State (only applicable for limited partnerships)
Forming an LLC in Alaska is done by following the steps below:
- Choose a name for the business
- Appoint the business with a registered agent
- Complete and file the certificate of formation with the county probate court
- Create an operating agreement
- Get an EIN for the business
Registering a corporation in Alaska is done in five steps.
- Choose a name for the business
- Appoint a registered agent
- Hold an organizational meeting
- Complete and submit the articles of incorporation
- Get an EIN for the business
Setting up your business’s finances is very easy to do so. The first thing you will want to do is separate your personal and business assets. The best way to do this is by opening a business bank account. To do so, you will need an EIN. If you want, you can take it a step further and get a business credit card to keep better track of all business expenses.
A good accounting system is key to ensuring the business and tax filings run smoothly. You can hire a professional accountant to care for all your accounting needs, from supervising payroll to managing the business’s taxes.
Investing in insurance for your business is highly recommended to protect your business from any damages. There are several different insurance policies for companies in Alaska to choose from, including:
- General Liability Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance
- Workers Compensation Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy
- Commercial Auto Insurance
- Cyber Liability Insurance
Knowing which one to choose can be overwhelming, so getting advice from a professional insurance broker is a good idea.
In Alaska, most businesses must apply for a state business license, which can be done online. The fee for this license is only $50, valid for one year, and must be renewed annually. You must apply for a Sales Tax Certificate from this website if you sell taxable goods. Depending on your business, you may also need to apply for additional licenses and permits. You can search for what else you may need on the Alabama Department of Revenue website.
Having a website is a must when owning a business. It is a great way to engage with customers, showcase your services, build brand recognition, and market the business. In addition, your business website can be linked to your other social media accounts and used to create an online market.
Before, building a website involved a lot of confusing code and computer jargon. Still, nowadays, it is as easy as clicking a few buttons. You can choose to hire a website creator to build you one, or you can do it yourself with one of the many website-building platforms online.
Hiring employees is essential to the smooth running of your business should it be too much for one person. However, while employing people who fit in with your company culture is recommended, you must also adhere to the hiring laws in Alaska.
The two most important laws are that you must report each new hire to the State of Alabama using this form. Second, you must register with the IRS to pay employer taxes. Employer taxes typically include unemployment taxes and workers’ compensation insurance.
The last step to starting a business is to market the business, and luckily there are so many different ways to do this successfully and on any budget.
Some ways to market your business:
- Business website
- Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok
- Create a Google Business Profile and advertise on Google
- Television and radio
- Local newspaper
The possibilities are endless when it comes to marketing a business.