Whether you are looking to try a new venture or expand on an idea, starting a business is a great idea. Due to its low-income taxes, Idaho is one of the best states to start a business. However, you’ll need to take many steps to get your Idaho business up and running. So, where do you start?
In this article, you will find everything you need to know to successfully start your own business from scratch, from choosing a business idea and structure to marketing your new business.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
Every business, big or small, starts with an idea. Like building a house, the business idea will be the foundation of the business. However, your business idea does not need to be overly complicated or thoroughly thought out; this is only the creative stage of the process. As you start your business, your idea will expand and become a fully formed business by the end of these 12 steps!
When deciding on a business idea, it will help to answer the following questions:
- What are my passions and hobbies?
- Can they be turned into a profitable business?
- Will I enjoy running this business for the foreseeable future?
- Is there a need for my business in Idaho?
- Are there any businesses out there already that are similar to mine?
- Does your business solve a consumer’s problem?
By answering these questions, you should be able to tell if your idea can be turned into a workable business venture. If not, try again with a different idea and tweak it as you go.
Step 2: Pick a Name
The name you choose has the power to make or break a business. Your chosen name will be the first thing potential customers will see and hear. Their first impressions will be based on your name.
Therefore, you want the business name to be unique, but easy enough to read and pronounce. In addition, it is recommended that the name you choose be relevant to your business or industry.
There are also state regulations that you need to be aware of when choosing a name. In Idaho, you cannot use a name that has already been registered with the Secretary of State. To avoid any legal problems and a hold-up in the process, conduct a business name search. You can do this on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website.
If you’re still battling to come up with a name, here are some tricks to try:
- Create a list of words that pop into your head when you think of the industry your business is in.
- Hold a brainstorming session with friends and family.
- Create polls online to get other people’s suggestions.
- Use an online name generator.
Step 3: Write a Business Plan
Once you have decided on a name and business idea, you must create a business plan. A business plan is like the blueprints to the “house” you are building. The business plan will have everything you need to know about the business: your research and planning, costs, and financial goals.
There are no set rules about what needs to go into a business plan, but it is a good idea to answer the following questions:
- What is your business, and what services do you offer?
- Why have you started the business?
- Who are your direct competitors?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on turning them into paying customers?
- What costs are involved?
- What roles will be available in the business?
- What are your financial goals and predictions?
If you’re still unsure how to write your business plan, plenty of ready-made templates are available online.
A business plan also serves another essential purpose: it can be used as a presentation for potential investors.
Step 4: Get Funding
Starting a business can be costly, and unless you can foot the bill yourself, you will need to get funding for the business elsewhere. In Idaho, the three best ways to go about this are with a grant, loan, or through an investor.
In Idaho, many different grant programs are offered to new and existing businesses across the state. To check them out and see if you’re eligible to receive a grant, visit the Idaho Department of Commerce website.
If you do not meet the requirements for a grant, your next best option is to apply for a loan. You can apply for a business loan at any reputable bank in Idaho. You can even ask your friends and family to see if they would be interested in loaning some money for your business. Be sure to get your loan in writing, even with a close family member. You never know what may come up, and you don’t want money to potentially ruin your relationship!
The last option is to try and get the business an investor. Just be aware that many investors will require a portion of the business or profits in return for their money. So, always read the fine print!
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
Each business structure has different benefits that suit different businesses. The four types of business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, and corporation.
This informal business structure is the simplest and easiest to set up in Idaho. In a sole proprietorship, there is one sole owner of the business and no legal distinction between the owner and the business. In other words, the owner is liable for everything. Low-risk businesses favor this business structure.
A partnership is just like a sole proprietorship because it is not a separate legal entity from the owner and is also an informal business structure. The only difference is that this business structure has more than one owner, all within equal shares.
Limited Liability Company
As one of the most commonly used business structures for small businesses, limited liability companies, or LLCs, are a hybrid business structure. An LLC combines the simplicity and flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the liability protection of a corporation, making it an excellent choice for small business owners.
C or S Corporation
As the most formal type of business structure available, corporations are favored by large companies with multiple shareholders. Corporations are separate entities from the business owners, and there are many tax benefits for corporations too.
Step 6: Register the Business
Once you have chosen your business structure, you must register it with the state.
Although a sole proprietorship is an informal business structure, you must still register the business with the state. To do this, complete and file the assumed business name certificate with the Secretary of State. You can do this online for a fee of $25.
The process of registering a partnership is very similar to a sole proprietorship. But in addition to the assumed name certificate, you will also need to complete a Statement of Partnership Authority for $100. All forms can be found here.
Limited Liability Company
To register your corporation with the state, complete and submit the Articles of Incorporation online. The fee for filing this document is $100.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounting
You will want to set up the business’s finances before you start trading. To set up the finances, open a business bank account, apply for a business credit card, and set up a payment method for customers. Many banks in Idaho offer credit card machines to businesses that bank with them.
Additionally, it might be wise to invest in payroll software to stay on top of their salaries and employee taxes if you have employees.
Hiring an accountant is strongly recommended to help you take care of all of the above. An accountant can even help you take care of all finances while the business is running, making tax season a breeze for you.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
It is not required in Idaho to insure your business. But, starting a business without business insurance is risky if something goes wrong. Out of all the insurance policies available, you should at least invest in general liability insurance. This broad policy provides daily coverage for damage and injury on your property, among other things.
Other insurance policies available are:
- Business owners insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- LLC insurance
Speak to your local broker for more advice on what insurance you will need for your specific situation.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
Not all businesses in Idaho need a permit or license. However, depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain specific permits before trading. You can visit this site to search for what permits you may need. Additionally, you should check with your local county’s office as they may have additional requirements.
If your business sells goods or services that collect tax, you must also register for a Sales and Use tax permit. This is done during the registration process of a business or by completing form IBR-1.
Step 10: Build a Website
Having a website as a business owner is highly recommended. After all, the 21st century is the digital age. Building a website nowadays is very simple, with a wide variety of web-building websites available for free or for a subscription.
A business website is a great way to market your business, engage with customers, and provide a platform for an e-commerce store should you want one in the future. Forming a website is also a great stepping stone to expanding your company beyond Idaho and beginning to do business in other states.
When building your website, there are several things you need to do:
- First, check if your desired domain name is still available. There are multiple domain searches online to use.
- Ensure your business name is visible and stands out on the web page.
- Ensure that all the font used is clear and easy to read.
- Avoid cluttering your web page with multiple images and animations, as this can drastically slow loading times.
- Ensure that your website is mobile-compatible.
- Include an “About Us” section.
- Provide all contact information.
- Provide links to your other social media accounts.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
If you find yourself juggling different roles in the business, it might be worth your while to hire employees to help you. When hiring new employees, take the time to review the candidate’s qualifications and experience to ensure they are a good fit for your business.
All new hires in Idaho must be reported to the Idaho Department of Labor within 20 days of their hire date.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The final step in starting your business in Idaho is to market your business. Luckily, there are many different ways to do this, regardless of your budget.
When marketing your business, it is so crucial that you remain consistent, as this is the best way to build brand recognition.
Different ways to market your business:
- Advertise on your business website
- Make use of social media like Facebook and Instagram
- Create a Google Business Profile and advertise on Google
- Create flyers
- Write a weekly newsletter
- Advertise on your local radio station
- Attend local markets and business expos
These are just a few different ways to market your business. You can be as creative as you like!