10 Simple Steps
Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, after naming and developing your product or service, the first giant step to success is etching out a game plan – including pitch/executive summary, objectives, financial forecasts, budgeting and cash flow, etc.
Without this you’re winging it and that won’t cut it in the Evergreen State.
Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as quickly and smoothly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Washington recognizes all kinds of business structures, from sole proprietorships and LLCs to corporations and partnerships. Each comes with its own give and take, so don’t dawdle on your homework here. This is your choice, make it and move on to registration.
Take Action: As this aspect of starting a business can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick and easy guides for the most popular entities.
As of 2016, Washington ranked #12, just outside the Top 10, on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. To the south Oregon is #11. Overall the PNW has tons to offer in terms of tax breaks, incentives and credits. Your next step is getting the tax situation sorted.
Take Action: Don’t worry, first there’s a free PDF published online by Washington State called New Business Tax Basics that will get you started. After that bookmark the Department of Revenue’s Find Taxes & Rates page to find specific answers.
Washington reached statehood about 130 years ago so there’s a fair amount of licensing and permits needed to do business wherever you go, from Spokane east of the mountains, or especially in smaller suburbs like Lynnwood or Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. You’ve got two options:
The next step is to give your company it’s very own shiny new business account with all the many perks and incentives depending on who you bank with. Washington has plenty of options so there’s no excuse to haphazardly combine your personal/business accounts. Big no no.
Are you going straight for a bigger city like Seattle, Tacoma or Bellingham? Maybe something calmer like Ellensburg, a small college town? Or maybe you’ve got high-end Bellevue in your sights? Whether you’re a tech-startup or the newest food trend, it’s all about location. Be smart about this. Do some research!
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.
Washington is booming. It has been for quite some time now thanks to a large variety of reasons (improving weather, great economy, big companies like Amazon coming to the area, etc.). And thanks to the internet, well, funding is everywhere! Question is, how do you intend on grabbing a slice to power your dream?
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like cups and caffeine (Washingtonians LOVE coffee). You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Washington is a good mix of progressiveness and liberalism. Some areas are very reserved, while others are incredibly culturally diverse. Regardless though, without a professional business website your company won’t be taken near as 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.
Keep in mind that Washington is very seasonal whether you’re west (wetter throughout the year) or east (four distinct seasons) of the mountains. Sure, tackle digital marketing with zeal, but don’t forget to get out there are really connect with your ideal market. Washingtonians are very active people for the most part.
Take Action: Make it a point every single solitary business day to really connect with at least one current or potential client/customer. Where are they? What activities are they interested in? What’s their commute like? There’s no marketing like understanding your prospects.
Listen, it’s easy to continue learning. All you have to do is basically stay conscious. Staying inspired on the other hand can be rough when you’re grinding it out during the rainy season in Washington. That’s what we’re here for!
Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.
Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Washington, 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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