How to start a business in Arkansas

10 Simple Steps

Step 1) Plan Your Business

Write a Business Plan

For the same reason you don’t go hiking in the Ozark Mountains without a compass, you shouldn’t open your doors in this state without a professional business plan. It’s mapping out your approach, designing your playbook, and structuring a game plan.

Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free Business Planning Guide 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.

Step 2) Form Your Business

How to Choose a Business Structure

Your next step is to choose a business entity and register it. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll be protecting your personal assets (car, house, personal finances) in the process.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without taking on any of its disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public via an IPO or raise substantial outside capital, consider forming a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it’s not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You’ll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

Step 3) Handle Taxes

Small Business TaxesArkansas small business taxes aren’t too confusing. There are plenty of incentives and credit programs to go around relevant to the entity you chose in step 2. Just be sure to do your homework, understand the resources below and ask questions if you need help.

Take Action: Be sure to cover relevant state tax registration requirements listed on the Arkansas Dept. of Finance and Administration page. In fact, better bookmark that site.

Step 4) Handle Licenses

Business LicensesAfter tackling tax requirements, it’s time to fill out and file all appropriate Arkansas red tape with the right agencies. There’s no way to legally operate about them. Here are two steps to help out.

1) For the DIY’ers the state page linked in step 3 also has a nice big section on Licenses/Permits to go through as well.

2) If you need help with this step, there are Business License Research Services we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

Step 5) Separate Your Finances

Best Business Bank AccountAll too often new entrepreneurs make the mistake of mixing their personal and business bank accounts. Big no no! Make your life far easier and financially safer by separating the two. Your brand should have its own individual account, which protects your personal assets in the process.

Getting Started:

Step 6) Choose Your Location

How to Choose a Business LocationSo, where’s it going to be? Little Rock? Fayetteville? Or maybe Springdale? As you know it’s location, location, location when it comes to a large part of business success, although the internet is definitely mixing things up.

Take Action: Choosing a location can be tough if it doesn’t happen naturally through personal/professional networks. To brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

Step 7) Finance Your Business

How to Finance a BusinessThe truth is your business could need far more resources than you may be expecting right now. There’s a strong small business development network throughout the state you can tap into early on or approach later. Don’t forget about social lending and CrowdFunding though, as both are great resources for Arkansas startups.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy as planning/finances go together like bread & butter. Browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8) Build Your Brand

Build a Business WebsiteWhether all you need is a digital business card or landing page, or a full-blown agency site, your brand needs a professional site to be taken seriously (and researched by potential clients/customers!). If you already know a fabulous designer, or have this squared away that’s great! If not…

Take Action: Check out a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. Both are extremely easy to use and out-of-the-box. All you’ll need to do is choose a template and make a few customizations that reflect what your business offers. Zero technical skills required!

Step 9) Begin Marketing

Social Media Channel

Boom, another monster bulldozer of worms. Marketing is both mind-blowingly simple and jaw-droppingly complex at the same time. Such is the nature of 21st century business. What counts is the kind of help you seek, and where you invest your marketing dollars.

Take Action: Start small, close to home, and research. See what similar businesses are doing in the Arkansas area you chose and what local Google results show. Start getting listed on local business sites!

Step 10) Continue Growing & Learning

How to Start a BusinessLearning how to start a business in Arkansas never really ends until you either sell, close your doors, or move. Every day has something new to teach you and your customers are always willing to share their insight into how to serve them better.

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

Arkansas Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Arkansas, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options