Starting a business in Colorado is one way to become your own boss and have more control over your career and financial future, but it is not without risks. In addition, there are several legal requirements for companies operating in Colorado that must be met and renewed annually. Fortunately, the state of Colorado has published several checklists and guides on how to legally start and maintain a business for both new and seasoned company owners.
Consider whether you have the money, time and family support needed to successfully start a business in Colorado. You should read the "Colorado Business Resource Guide" (see Resources section). Realize that many new companies fail because the owner really did not have the money or time required to successfully operate his or her own firm.
Understand that you may need to go through a lengthy inspection and approval process, especially if you want to open a restaurant or massage business in Colorado.
Name your business and get an Assumed Name Certificate from your city or town hall in Colorado. The department from which to obtain an Assumed Name Certificate is usually Licensing or Zoning. This is generally about $10 to $20 and allows you to legally do business under a name that is not your own.
Pay any required city or town business taxes in Colorado, which allows you to be issued a business license. This must be renewed annually and in most cases is under $100. However, if you are wanting to have a business such as a pawn shop, theater, massage business or restaurant, the cost could be as high as $1,000, and you will need to have your premises inspected before the business license will be issued.
Incorporate your firm with the Colorado Secretary of State (see Resources section). This enables you to have your business as a separate legal entity and protects your personal assets in case your company is sued or must go bankrupt. You can download the required forms as well as accompanying instructions by visiting the Colorado Secretary of State website. Incorporation costs less than $200 in most cases and has become easier to do yourself. Alternatively, you can hire a company specializing in getting both your business license and incorporation documents (see Resources section).
Apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN (see Resources section) with the Internal Revenue Service once you are incorporated. If you do not choose to become a corporation, you can apply for an EIN as a sole proprietor or self-employed individual.
Remember that the best resource for any business information is your state or local government in Colorado.
Do not expect legal or tax advice from any state or local officials in Colorado. You will need to address such questions to your accountant or attorney.