New Hampshire is not the country’s most business-friendly state, ranking only 35 out of 50. But the state has zero income and sales tax, so there are definitely some benefits to starting a company here. But how do you start a business? Where do you even begin?
In this article, you will find everything you need to start your new business in New Hampshire, from choosing the right business idea, registering the business, setting up finances and insurance, and marketing your new business.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
The first step in starting a business in New Hampshire is choosing an idea. This idea will form the foundation on which you will build your business. At this stage in the planning process, your idea does not need to be overly thought-out or complicated.
By answering these questions below, you should be able to land on an interesting business idea that is also marketable:
- What are my favorite hobbies, passions, and skills?
- Can any of these hobbies, skills, and passions be turned into a profitable business?
- Is there a need for my business?
- Will I enjoy running the business every day?
- What consumer problem does my solve?
- Are there any businesses similar to mine already out there?
- How will my business differ from the rest?
If you’re still struggling to pick a name, consider consulting your friends and family. Having other people to bounce ideas off of is a great help.
Step 2: Pick a Name
The second step in this process is to pick a name for the business. Make sure that the name you choose is easy for people to read and pronounce. The name you pick is important as this is what many potential customers’ first impressions will be based on, and it is often challenging to change a negative first impression.
In New Hampshire, you cannot register a business with a name already registered with the state. You can complete a business entity search on the Secretary of State’s website to check if your name is still available.
If you aren’t sure where to begin when picking a name, try out these helpful methods below:
- Use a free online name generator.
- Hold a brainstorming session with friends and family.
- Create a poll on your social media like Facebook or Instagram.
- Create a word dump, where you write down a bunch of words that come into mind when you think of your business.
Step 3: Write Your Business Plan
This third step involves a little bit more work. The business plan should have everything a person needs to know about your business, from the planning and research stages to the actual day-to-day running of the business and the services you offer. Consider this business plan to be the blueprint for your business.
You will want to ensure the business plan is as thorough as possible, as your business plan can also be used as a marketing tool to attract potential investors to your business. Writing a business plan is not required, but it is highly recommended, as doing so comes with many rewards.
Here are some questions you can aim to answer in your business plan:
- What services will your business offer?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on turning your target audience into paying customers?
- What are your marketing techniques?
- What are the startup costs involved?
- Do you have the money, or will you need funding from elsewhere?
- How much money will you need to earn before you break even?
- What are your profit projections?
- Are there any other financial details that are important to the business?
- What roles will be available in the business, and how do you plan on filling them?
While the business plan doesn’t have to look a specific way, answering the above questions is a great way to get started. Alternatively, you can download a free business plan template with a quick Google search.
Step 4: Get Funding
To start a business successfully, you will need money for the startup costs, and if you do not have this money yourself, you will need to get funding from elsewhere. This can either be through a loan, grant, or an investor.
The New Hampshire Small Business Administration has several government-funded grant programs throughout the year. You can read more on their website to see if your business will qualify for one.
If your business does not qualify for a grant, another option is to apply for a loan. You can search for a loan on the Small Business Administration website or apply for a loan at your local bank. You can even obtain a loan from your friends and family. But make sure to get all agreements in writing, as the last thing you’ll want to do is to ruin a relationship over a financial matter.
There is also the option of having someone else invest in your business in exchange for shares in the business and profits.
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
There are several different business structures, each with different benefits. Choosing the proper business structure will ensure your company functions the way you want it to. Here are the business structures you can choose from in New Hampshire:
A sole proprietorship business structure is informal, meaning there is no separation between the business and the owner’s assets. This structure is typically used for low-risk companies that started as hobbies, like photographers or freelancers.
This business structure is very similar to a sole proprietorship, as there is no separation between personal and business assets. The only difference between the two structures is that a partnership is used for businesses with more than one owner with equal shares in the business.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company, also known as an LLC, is one of the most commonly chosen business structures for small businesses. This is because LLCs are a great combination of two types of business structures. It has the ease and simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the liability protection of a corporation.
A corporation is the most formal business structure chosen by large companies with multiple shareholders. The corporation is an entirely separate entity from the business owners. This business structure also comes with some tax benefits.
Step 6: Register the Business
Once you have chosen what business structure to use, you will need to register it before you can begin trading.
This business structure does not need to be registered with the state of New Hampshire. However, if you wish to operate under a different name other than your legal personal name, you must file an assumed name with the state. This is done on the Secretary of State’s website.
A partnership does not need to be registered with the state unless you want to file an assumed name with the Secretary of State. Additionally, you will need to all sign a partnership agreement, but this document does not need to be submitted to the state either.
Limited Liability Company
Registering a corporation is very similar to an LLC. You will need to complete and submit the Articles of Incorporation to the New Hampshire Department of State website. The fee to submit this application is $100.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances and Accounting
Once your business is up and running, you will need to set up your finances and accounting to start earning.
To set up your finances, apply for a business bank account, a credit card, and a payment method for your customers to use. Additionally, you may want to install payroll software if you have multiple employees.
Consider hiring an accountant to take care of this side of the business for you. You’ll be incredibly thankful for the help when tax season rolls around! Having an accountant can also help you avoid overpaying taxes.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Every business owner will tell you that operating without business insurance is risky. While there are many different insurance policies you can choose from, you should at least have an excellent general liability insurance policy. This broad insurance policy covers all the basics of running a business and any damage or injury on your premises.
There are also many other different insurance policies you can choose from, such as:
- Workers compensation insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Limited liability company insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Business owners insurance
The options can be overwhelming regarding the types of insurance plans on the market. So if you’re unsure what to get, chat with your local insurance broker for professional advice.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
There is no state-issued general business license in New Hampshire. However, each county and city will have its own guidelines and requirements. You can find more information about each county’s requirements by visiting the Government Resources website. Alternatively, you can contact your local clerk.
Additionally, you may need to obtain other permits and licenses depending on what kind of business you run.
Step 10: Build a Website
Having a website for your business is crucial in today’s modern society, and building one yourself has never been easier. There are plenty of web-building services that you can use and do-it-yourself platforms that you can choose from.
When building or designing your website, there are a few things you need to be aware of about the design:
- First things first, check that your desired domain name is still available. There are a lot of ways to do this online.
- Ensure your business name is clear and easy to find on the webpage.
- Ensure all font is neat and easy to read.
- Avoid cluttering the website with images, graphics, videos, and GIFs. This can slow down the loading times.
- Make sure that your webpage is compatible with mobile browsers.
- Include a good call to action like a Contact us or Shop Now button.
If you are not very tech-savvy, you can always hire a web designer to build a website.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
The best way to hire new employees is by uploading a job post on job search websites. You’ll hear back from applicants that you can narrow down to your top choices. Interview your top choices, and offer the job to the candidate that is best suited for the role.
You must report any new hires to the New Hampshire Employment Security webpage. This needs to be done within 20 days of the hire date. There is no fee to report any new hires.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The final step in starting your business in New Hampshire is to market the business. Nowadays, there are various ways to market a business. The one thing to remember when you are marketing your business is to remain consistent.
Here are some different ways to market your business:
- Advertise and engage with people on your business website. Make sure your content is relevant.
- Create interest and advertise for free on social media like Facebook and Instagram.
- Create a Google Business Profile and advertise on Google.
- Attend local events and business expos.
- Hold competitions and giveaways.
- Advertise on your local radio or television stations.
- Give out freebies or samples.
If you prefer to focus on other business aspects, you can always hire someone to market your business.