10 Simple Steps
The reason squaring away at least the initial draft of your business plan comes first is because it’s going to force you to really dig into your value propositions, refine/erase assumptions you may be stringing yourself along on, evaluate your current/forecasted financial situation objectively, and much more. You don’t go outside in a Western Montana winter without your coat on, and you don’t enter the modern marketplace without a game plan!
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 next step has three parts. First, you pick the type of legal entity you want to form under the law, then you go through the incorporation process which will secure your brand name and get it registered in Montana. Right now in late 2016 for example, the state filing fee for an LLC is a mere $70 with an annual $15 charge for ongoing compliance. Cake walk!
Take Action: As this part of starting a business in Montana 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.
Unlike its vast network of stunner hiking, biking and ski trails the Montana tax code is pretty darn quick and easy to master. In fact, The Tax Foundation ranks 2016’s Montana business tax climate 6th-best on their index (0% Sales and Excise Taxes helps). As you’ll see, aspects of steps 2, 3 and 4 tend to blend together because they’re all the same category of red tape.
Take Action: If you’re doing this Lone Ranger-style without legal help, head on over to the Montana Department of Revenue’s site and leverage their Businesses Section. Their 2015 Corporate Income Tax Booklet is a free PDF you can use to get started as well.
The next leg of this trek will be either super-simple or a bit complex depending on a) the type of legal structure you’ve formed, b) what kind of business you’re in, and c) where your business is located within Montana. Maybe you only need one simple business license to open shop, or perhaps zoning is involved, or even the public.
Okay, whew, you’ve come so far! Incorporated, registered, protected under the law. Nice work! The next logical step is to pave the way for centralized, clean and tidy financials. This is done by choosing a banking institution with the best offer and creating dedicated business checking and savings accounts.
If you’re setting up a physical business, or renting commercial space, then the first thing you need to know is that people in Montana are pretty spread out. Looking at 2013 numbers, the three bighorns are Billings, Great Falls and Missoula. Added together that only comes to roughly 241k souls…so about as many people are in those three cities as Laredo Texas. But they’re amazing people and everywhere you look is breathtaking.
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.
To be frank with you, outside funding from more conventional sources can be a smidgen more limited because Montana accounts for a small portion (less than 1%) of US GDP. VCs can be hard to come by in-the-flesh and many banks outside “bigger” cities are more used to lending to ranchers than modern companies. That said, CrowdFunding and Social Lending are very viable and accessible options as long as you have internet access and a bank account.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Stroopwafels and cowboy boots. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Without a website today’s consumers/professionals take your brand about as seriously as a bull takes a naked rodeo clown. They’re default now, whether we’re talking ecommerce or the easy-responsive agency site that sums everything up on one page. In case you’re wondering, currently Meagher County has the most internet access in Montana. Get’er done!
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.
Do you know why the Grand Union Hotel B & B is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Montana today after nearly 140 years in business? Management. The words marketing and management are VERY similar because listen, all the hustling in the world means squat if you can’t keep your doors open.
Take Action: Before throwing resources behind this or that marketing trend ask yourself two penetrating questions. Could this money be used to improve brand management (software is a perfect example)? Is there a cheaper, more direct way to connect with ideal clients, users, or customers?
Once you’ve got steps 1 through 9 in the bag, please consider Startup Savant as a reliable resource for not just tools of the trade, but motivating insight from fellow change-makers moving forward.
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 Montana, 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.
IncFile is the most affordable online incorporation available. Since 2004, IncFile has helped over 75,000 entrepreneurs incorporate their business on a budget. For $49 + State Fee, they'll bring your business to life by registering whichever business structure you choose.Visit IncFile.com
One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. LivePlan is a business plan software that will walk you through the entire process as it has for 375,000 entrepreneurs across the world.Get 25% Off LivePlan