Vermont is well-loved for its stunning scenescapes and hiking trails. Whether you are looking to escape your mundane 9 to 5 or simply looking to work on an idea you have, starting a business in Vermont is a great idea. However, starting a business can be complicated, especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship. But not to worry! This guide is designed to help you start a business in Vermont in no time. From choosing an idea to writing a business plan and even marketing your business, this article will cover everything.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
The first step you need to complete when starting a business in Vermont is to choose your idea. This idea will form the foundation of your business. But more than simply thinking of an idea, you will also want to think of an idea that will work and is marketable.
To help come up with a business idea and to test it, answer the following questions:
- Do you have any passions, skills, interests, or hobbies?
- What skills are needed to run the business?
- Do you have the skills to run the business?
- Can any of the above activities be turned into a profitable business?
- Can you see yourself working in the business every day and enjoying it?
- Are there any businesses like yours that already exist?
- Is there a need for your business?
- How is your business solving a consumer’s problem?
Your answers to these questions indicate whether your idea will translate into a successful business. You can also employ the help of your friends and family and take advantage of their valuable insight as consumers.
Step 2: Pick a Name
Picking a name for your business is more important than you might think. You should be completely happy with the name you choose, as you will use it on all your business paperwork and branding. Changing your name after establishing your business is not always a good idea, especially from a marketing standpoint.
The chosen name should also be unique from others and relevant to the industry in which your business is based. Make sure that the name you chose is easy enough for people to read and pronounce.
The state of Vermont does not allow businesses to register if it is using a name already used by another company. To check if the name you want to use is available, run a business search on the Vermont Secretary of State’s Business Name Database. You should also check that your desired domain name is available at this stage of the process too.
Thinking up a name for your business can be tricky, so if you don’t have any ideas, try out some of these helpful methods:
- Create a word dump. This is a list of words that pop into your mind when you think about your business. The trick is to not think too hard about what to write down.
- Use an online name generator. These are free, and the names are randomized.
- Brainstorm with friends and family.
- Create a poll on your Facebook page.
Step 3: Write a Business Plan
Now that you have chosen a business idea and a name, you will need to flesh out your business by writing a business plan. The business plan is like a manual for your business. It will have everything from all your research and planning to how you will run the company on a daily basis and any financial information that you deem important. Vermont doesn’t require companies to write business plans, but they are an important part of getting organized.
Make sure your business plan is as thorough as possible because you can use it to apply for funding for the business.
There are no set requirements about what needs to be included in the business plan. However, you should make sure that you answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your business?
- Why have you started the business?
- What products or services does your business offer?
- Who are your direct competitors?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on turning your target audience into paying customers?
- How much will you need to start the business?
- Will you need funding?
- How do you plan on getting funding?
- How much will you need to make to break even?
- What equipment is needed?
- What type of employees will you need?
- What are your financial goals and predictions?
If you are struggling to format your business plan, you can download a ready-to-use template from the internet.
Step 4: Get Funding
You need money to start a business, especially if you need to buy equipment and surplus stock. If you do not have the funds, you will need to get some from either a grant, loan, or an investor.
The state of Vermont does offer its businesses many funding opportunities. Visit the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s website to learn more about the different grants, loans, and funding programs available.
Alternatively, you can go the private route and apply for a loan from your local bank or even from friends and family. However, with whatever agreement you get, read the small print and understand the terms. And especially when borrowing money from family for business, ensure you get all agreements down in writing.
If you’re happy to part with some shares or profits in your business, another option is to have an investor cover the startup costs for you.
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
All businesses must choose a business structure, and each structure comes with its own features and benefits. Finding the right structure for your business is very important.
Here are the different structures to choose from:
The sole proprietorship business structure is an informal structure with only one owner. The sole owner is liable for the business as there is no separation between the assets of the owner and the company. This business structure is commonly used for low-risk businesses like freelancers or businesses started from hobbies.
A partnership is also an informal business structure and one that is very similar to a sole proprietorship, as there is still no separation between the owner’s assets and the business’s. The only difference between the two business structures is that there is more than one owner in a partnership. All owners have equal shares in the business.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company, or an LLC, is the most commonly used business structure for small businesses. This is because an LLC combines two business structures and offers advantages of both types. It has the flexibility and ease of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the added liability protection of a corporation.
A C or S corporation is a formal business structure used mainly by large companies with multiple shareholders. A corporation is an entirely separate entity from the owners. A reason why this business structure is popular with large companies is that it may offer a few tax benefits as well.
Step 6: Register the Business
Depending on your business structure, you may have to register it with the state of Vermont.
This business structure does not need to be registered with the state of Vermont. However, if you wish to operate under a different name other than your personal name, you will need to file an assumed name on the Online Business Service Center.
Like a sole proprietorship, this business structure doesn’t need to be registered with the state either, and you can file an assumed name on the Online Business Service Center.
In addition, it is highly recommended that all owners of the partnership sign a partnership agreement to prevent any future conflicts. This agreement does not need to be submitted to the state but should be kept in the business’s records.
Limited Liability Company
Before you begin trading, you must register your LLC in Vermont to remain compliant with the state. To do this, you must complete the Articles of Organization and submit them to the Online Business Service Center. The fee to register your LLC is $125.
To register a corporation in Vermont, you must complete the Articles of Incorporation and submit them to the Online Business Service Center. The fee to register a corporation is $125.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounting
You should set up your finances before you open your business. To set up your finances, you need to open a company bank account, apply for a company credit card, and set up a payment method for customers to use. If you have employees, you will also want to install a payroll system for managing employee salaries and taxes.
Taxes and finances can get confusing, so consider hiring an accountant to help you with the business’s books.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
It is irresponsible to run your business without insurance. You never know when disaster can strike. While there are plenty of other insurance policies to choose from, you should at least have a general liability insurance policy. This broad policy will cover you in case of injury or damage to your property. It also covers everything you need to run your business on a daily basis.
Other insurance policies you can choose from include:
- Business owner’s insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Limited liability company insurance
Chat with your local insurance broker for professional advice on what type of insurance is best for you and your business.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
Vermont does not require businesses to have general business licenses, but there are still other licenses or permits they might need to get. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to apply for specific permits or licenses. Check out Vermont’s Business Start Up Guide for more information.
If you are selling tangible items, you will be required to apply for a business tax license. This can be done through the Online Business Service Center.
Step 10: Build a Website
Once you have applied for all your licenses and registered the business, you can start building a website for the company. You can build one using DIY website builders or hire someone to do it for you.
Make sure you do the following when building a website:
- Ensure your domain name is available for use.
- Make sure all the fonts used are clear and easy to read.
- Make sure the website interface is simple and easy to understand.
- Avoid filling the web pages with unnecessary images and videos, as this will slow down the loading times.
- Ensure that all content is your own, and if not, make sure you have permission to use it.
- Ensure all information is correct and relevant.
- Provide contact details.
- Link your website to your other social media accounts.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
If you are planning on hiring employees for your business, draft a job post and read all applications. Narrow them down to your top choices and interview your preferred candidates. Offer the job to the applicant who is best suited for the role.
You must report all new hires to the Vermont Department of Labor. This should be done within ten days, and there is no fee to do this.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The final step in starting your Vermont business is to market the business. This step can be fun as there are many different and creative ways to market your business. Whether you hire someone to handle your marketing or do it yourself, always remember to keep your content relevant and consistent.
Here are some excellent ways to market your business:
- Advertise on your business website.
- Use social media like Facebook and Instagram to create interest.
- Make use of pay-per-click advertising.
- Advertise on Google with your business profile.
- Advertise in your local newspaper.
- Attend markets and expos.
- Attend networking events.
- Run competitions and giveaways.
- Host a launch party or event.
Questions? Let us know.