10 Simple Steps
For 99.999% of entrepreneurs starting a business isn’t avant garde where you just hurl paint at a canvas and call it art. No amount of techno-wizardry will erase planning as the initial step towards bringing your idea to life and getting the most out of it. Make it professional, and make it count.
Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Your first official business (meaning red-tape’s involved) is picking a specific business structure you intend on building in Hawaii, whether on Maui or O’ahu. Then you can incorporate your brand and in the process register with the state. Often this process integrates aspects of step 3.
Take Action: As this part of starting a business in Hawaii can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick and easy incorporation guides for the most popular entities if you want to skip over to those.
Because Hawaii is largely considered a gateway to China and Japan, it has an interesting set of tax advantages. And we won’t sugarcoat it, tax-wise and in terms of doing business in Hawaii, it’s a tough market across the board. The folks who go through the hoops typically in-part do so because they’re in love with island lifestyle.
Take Action: Cruise on over to eHawaii.gov and use their savvy Hawai’i Business Express (HBE) to file a single application to register a new business with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. There’s also the HCE for compliance matters.
Because of limited land and things like volcanoes, if you’re brick and mortar, which you’ll likely be there are licensing and permits to handle. Again, this stuff is going to blend into the processes of incorporation and registering with the state.
From amazing payroll and access to credit, to special package options, waved fees, and growth plans, now it’s time to give your brand its own separate financial footprint where all the data is centralized and clean. Don’t make the mistake of meshing your personal accounts with official business transactions, because it just makes your life far more complicated, especially during tax time.
Firstly, if you aren’t familiar, you should know each island has two identities – one is very localized, and the other is as part of the greater Hawaiian island chain/cultural identity. It’s both part and connected to the mainland, but its own unique set of worlds as well. And another thing, regardless of where you choose, from Mililani to Kahului, the initial challenge is fitting in and being accepted.
Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.
Again, another double-sided coin of doing business in the 21st century – funding in Hawaii can be a challenge to get, but there is a thriving startup-friendly support network once you arrive and get situated in your area. Keep your options open, especially non-conventional ones like Online Social Lending and CrowdFunding.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like traditional Lū‘au’s and yellow hibiscus tattoos. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
These days it’s relatively easy and far less expensive to get a business website designed and published that’s as stilling as a Hawaiian waterfall. Why? Well, because they’re a necessity. No matter what kind of business you’re in this step simply cannot be skipped, or even skimped, any longer if you want your brand to be taken seriously.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there aren’t too many yet. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.
On the one hand, digital marketing is so mind-blowingly complex. But on the other, getting out on the island and reaching people isn’t as tough. Find a good blend of the two because the people of Hawaii, both locals and travelers/tourists alike have a ton to offer.
Take Action: Figure out right now what you can (this comes up in your business plan as well) and cannot do yourself, and what you’re best at in terms of helping the business grow. Whatever is outside your core skillset, outsource!
No one learns to surf in a month. Almost no businesses see any real sales, anywhere, in the first couple years. What keeps your chugging along is enjoying the learning process and embracing the countless lessons that just keep streaming your way as a change-maker.
Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from ambitious professionals like you.
Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Hawaii, here are the two we believe in most. With IncFile and LivePlan, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.
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