An entrepreneurial spirit and a great idea are only the beginning when it comes to starting your own business. In Idaho, like any other state, special considerations need to be taken into account prior to opening the doors to your new company. It is important for the long- and short-term success of any venture that you acquaint yourself with Idaho's requirements when it comes to small businesses and get the help you need from the start.
Select a business entity. Consult an attorney to determine the best entity for your business. Currently, 11 legal structures are recognized in Idaho: Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Partner, Corporation, S Corporation, C Corporation, Non-Profit Corporation, Professional Service Corporation, Limited Liability Company, and Professional Limited Liability Company. Download and fill in the appropriate business entity form from the Secretary of State website (see Resources) and mail to:
Office of the Secretary of State 450 N. 4th Street P.O. Box 83720 Boise, Idaho 83720-0080
Apply for your Tax Identification Number. Idaho does not issue a state Tax Identification Number, which also is referred to as an Employer Identification Number; however all businesses are required to obtain a federal EIN with the exception of sole proprietors without employees. The federal number will be used for Idaho business income tax purposes and also is a means for the federal government to identify businesses. Go to the Internal Revenue Service website and type in “Apply for Federal EIN online” in the search box at the top of the page. Click on the link by the same name to begin the application process immediately over the Internet (see References).
Select a business name. Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships using anything other than the true names of the owner or owners, must file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the Idaho Secretary of State. If you have chosen any other legal structure, your business name will have been filed when registering the business entity form. The Assumed Business Name form can be filled in and downloaded from the Secretary of State's website and mailed along with the filing fee to the Office of the Secretary of State.
Write out a business plan. Include an overview of your business, management, marketing, operations, financial plans which include employee wages, and any projected long- or short-term financial loss or gain. Supporting documents, such as tax returns and other financial statements should be attached to your business plan. Conduct thorough research of your market to ensure the accuracy of your plan.
Comply with state and federal licensing requirements. A number of license and tax requirements vary depending on the type of business you are starting and depending on whether you plan to hire employees. Go to the Idaho Small Business Solutions website and click on the business wizard (see Resources). Answering the questions regarding your venture will direct you to the names, phone numbers, websites and addresses of the appropriate regulatory agencies that can provide you with specific information on licensing, tax and registration. In addition, contact your city clerk, county clerk or recorder's office to determine what city or county licenses and permits are needed.
Obtain the necessary funding. Review personal resources to determine if you are able to finance your business, including any employees, without outside help. Other options include applying at your local bank for a small business loan or going online to the Small Business Administration website (see References). The SBA has a number of programs that are available for small businesses and provides a list of Idaho lenders that participate in these programs.
Purchase the appropriate insurance. Speak with an insurance agent regarding what type of business you are starting. Depending on your particular business activities, your agent will assist you in selecting the appropriate type of insurance coverage for your needs, including commercial auto if necessary.
Hire qualified employees and advertise. Create business cards and fliers to announce the opening of your business. Pass out your cards to family, friends and everyone that you encounter who may have an interest in your business. Depending on your type of business, set up a website to attract potential customers from Idaho and anywhere in the country.
Your choice of legal entity will have an effect on what you pay in taxes and how much you are personally at risk in terms of liability.
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