Voted in 2022 as one of the most affordable states to live in, Utah is becoming a more popular state to start a business. This landlocked state has many charms, and it’s slowly becoming one of the best economies in the United States. However, starting a business can be tricky, especially if you have never started one before.
With this detailed guide, you will learn everything you need to start your business in Utah. You will learn how to choose a business idea, write a business plan, register the company, and more.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
Step one in starting your new business in Utah is to choose your business idea. The business idea is super important as this is what the rest of your business is built upon, which is why you need to ensure the idea will work in today’s economy. This means not only finding something you are passionate about but also something that will attract consumers who have a myriad of other choices out there, both locally and abroad.
To test if your idea will actually work or to come up with one in the first place, answer the following questions:
- What hobbies, skills, or interests do I have?
- Can these hobbies and skills be turned into a profitable business?
- Can I see myself enjoying the work or running the business every day?
- What skills are needed to run the business?
- Do I have these skills?
- What needs are there in the market?
- What problem does my business solve for consumers?
- Are there any businesses like mine already?
- How can I make my business unique from theirs?
Your answers to these questions give you a good indication of whether the idea will work. You should also ask your friends and family for help, as they can give you valuable insight as fellow consumers.
Step 2: Pick a Name
After choosing your idea, you will need to pick a name for your business. It is imperative that you are happy with the name that you choose. It will appear on all the paperwork, licenses, and branding. Changing your name partway through the process will result in more work and extra expenses, not to mention the effect it will have on your marketing.
The name you choose should be easy for people to read and pronounce. It should be unique from others but still relevant to the industry your business is in. The name should also give people an idea of your services or products.
In Utah, you cannot use the name of a business already registered with the state. To check if the name you wish to use is still available, you can search for companies on the Utah Business Search.
Sometimes coming up with a name can be difficult. If you are stuck, try out some of these helpful methods below:
- Brainstorm with friends and family.
- Create a word dump. This is where you quickly write down any word that springs into your head when you think of your business.
- Use an online name generator. These are free and provide randomized names.
- Create a poll or survey on social media.
Step 3: Write a Business Plan
Every successful business in Utah needs a good business plan. Think of the business plan as the blueprint of your business. It will contain all your research, planning, product information, how the business is run on a day-to-day basis, and any financial information you deem necessary.
Make sure you complete the business plan as best as possible, as this can also be used when applying for funding.
Here are some things you should consider including in your business plan:
- Why have you started the business?
- What products or services are you offering?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on converting your target audience into paying customers?
- Who are your competitors, and how do you plan on standing out?
- How much do you need to break even?
- How much are your startup costs?
- Do you have the money to start a business?
- How will you get funding?
- What roles will be available in the business?
- Will you need to hire employees?
If you are struggling to write your business plan, consider downloading a template from the internet to help you.
Step 4: Get Funding
Starting a business can be costly, especially if you need to buy equipment and supplies. Unless you have this money readily available, you must apply for funding elsewhere. In Utah, businesses can get funding through a grant, loan, or an investor.
The Office of Economic Opportunity does offer businesses in the state grant opportunities if they qualify. To learn more about the grants, you can visit the Office of Economic Opportunity website. If you do not qualify for a business grant, you can apply for a loan from your local bank or have an investor cover the startup costs in exchange for shares in the business.
Your friends, family, and acquaintances can also help you fund the business by offering a loan or investing in your business. If you choose this route, make sure to get all agreements in writing!
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
To ensure your Utah business runs as successfully as possible, you must choose the proper business structure. There are four structures to choose from:
A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure used by businesses with only one owner. The sole owner is liable for the business, as there is no separation of the owner’s personal and business assets. The structure is favored by companies that are considered low-risk.
A partnership is very similar to a sole proprietorship; they are both informal business structures with no separation of business and personal assets. The only difference between the two structures is that in a partnership, there is more than one owner with equal shares in the business.
Limited Liability Company
The limited liability company, or LLC, is the most popular choice for small businesses. This is because it has the flexibility and simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the added liability protection of a corporation.
C or S Corporation
This is the most formal business structure available, and many large companies with multiple shareholders choose to use this structure. Unlike informal business structures, a corporation is an entirely separate entity from the owners. There are also some tax benefits available for corporations.
Step 6: Register the Business
Once you have chosen a business structure to use, you might need to register the business with the state of Utah.
A sole proprietorship does not need to be registered with the state of Utah, but you must file an assumed name, or DBA, with the state of Utah, if applicable. This must be done on the Secretary of State’s website.
A partnership does not need to be registered with the state either, but you must file a DBA if you wish to operate your business under a different name than your personal legal one.
In addition, it is recommended that all owners in Utah sign a partnership agreement in case any conflicts within the business arise.
Limited Liability Company
To register your LLC with the state of Utah, you must fill out the Articles of Organization and submit them to the Utah Division of Corporations using the OneStop business portal. The fee to register your business is $70.
To register a corporation with the state of Utah, you must complete the Certificate of Organization and submit it to the OneStop business portal. The fee to register your corporation is $54.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounts
You should set up your finances and accounts before you begin trading. Setting up your finances could include opening a bank account, applying for a company credit card, and choosing a payment method for customers. If you have employees, consider installing good payroll software to manage their salaries and taxes efficiently as well.
Taxes and finances can get confusing – even for the best of us. So, unless you feel confident about taking care of this side of the business flawlessly, consider hiring an accountant to assist you with your business’s books.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Every business needs good business insurance, as you can never predict when a disaster will strike. For this reason, having at least a general liability insurance policy is strongly advised. This is a broad type of plan that covers everything you need when running a business and coverage from damage or injury on the premises.
Other insurance policies you can get include:
- Business owners insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Limited liability company insurance
Chat with your local insurance broker for professional advice on what type of insurance is best for your company.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
The state of Utah does not issue a state-wide general business license. However, some cities or counties within the state may have their own requirements, which you should check out. Check with your local county office to see what permits or licenses you may need. In addition, depending on the nature of your business, you may need further permits or licenses.
You will also need to apply for a Sales Tax permit. This can be done through the Utah State Tax Commission.
Step 10: Build a Website
Consider building a website for your business, as they are a great way to advertise your business and engage with consumers. You can even sell your products from your website using platforms like Shopify.
Whether you are designing the website yourself or paying someone to do it for you, there are some things you need to do:
- Check if your desired domain name is still available.
- Make sure your business name is bold and visible to viewers.
- Keep all fonts neat and easy to read.
- Try not to overload the page with images, speech bubbles, GIFs, etc. This can result in slower loading times and sometimes be difficult to load on a mobile screen.
- Ensure that all content is your own or that you have the owner’s permission to use it.
- Make sure your website is compatible with mobiles.
- Link the website to the business’s other social media accounts.
- Ensure contact details are not hidden and are easy to find.
- Include a call to action button like “Shop Now” or “Contact Us.”
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
If you are planning on hiring employees for the business, post a job advertisement online or on local job boards. Interview your top choices, and offer the job to your preferred candidate! Ensure your new hire has the experience and the demeanor to handle the job needed.
You need to ensure that you report any new hires to the New Hire Registry. This needs to be done within 20 days from the hire date, and there is no fee.
Step 12: Market the Business
The final step in starting your business in Utah is to market it. Nowadays, marketing a business can be an incredibly creative exercise, as there are so many different ways to do it on any budget. When marketing the business, be sure that all content is up to date and that you are consistent.
Here are some various ways to market your business:
- Make use of your website.
- Create content and advertise on social media like Facebook and Instagram.
- Make use of pay-per-click advertising.
- Create a Google Business Profile.
- Run competitions and giveaways on social media to build a following.
- Create flyers.
- Advertise in your local newspaper and radio station.
- Attend expos and local markets.
- Attend local networking events.
- Hand out free samples.
- Consider hosting a launch party.
If you are overwhelmed and prefer to focus on other aspects of the business, consider hiring a marketing expert or an agency to take care of all of this for you.