How to start a business in Colorado

10 Simple Steps

STEP 1: PLAN YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

Write a Business PlanWhether you intend to be a completely online operation or open a brick and mortar shop Colorado-style, without a professional business plan you’re just another fly-by-night. And forget about funding. Would you hike deep in the Rockies depending on a guide who claimed they could navigate without map or compass?

Take Action: Check out 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: CHOOSE BUSINESS STRUCTURE & REGISTER

How to Choose a Business StructureNow it’s time to get your head out of the mystifying Colorado scenery and get down to brass tacks. Your journey begins with choosing a business structure and registering it with the state. This will protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) and make your business official in the process.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form 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: TACKLE COLORADO TAX OBLIGATIONS

Small Business TaxesDon’t sweat regulatory steps. Dig in and before you know it this layer of red tape will be completely off your plate and your brand will be ready for those juicy tax incentives, kick-backs, credits, etc. I mean come on, heard of the Rocky Mountain High? It’s a progressive state!

Take Action: Hop on over and then bookmark the Colorado Dept. of Revenue’s Taxation Division page which should get you started if you don’t have a tax attorney or legal help.

STEP 4: OBTAIN LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesThe regulatory environment in Colorado is very entrepreneur-friendly, but strict. Consider city/county licenses, possible zoning requirements, public accommodations, digital issues and federal accommodations. Good news is once handled it’s just light annual maintenance in most cases.

  1. For the DIY’ers a good place to begin is the Colorado Business Resource Book published by the CO Small Business Development Network and this Checklist.
  2. If you need help with this step, here’s a list of Business License 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: OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountThe biggest reason setting up a unique/separate business bank account is a good idea is because it isolates those financials making them easier to manage and track. Fully leverage the versatile benefits by giving your brand its own centralized/dedicated business accounts.

Take Action

STEP 6: PICK A STELLAR COLORADO LOCATION

How to Choose a Business LocationThe landscape is majestic literally everywhere, but there’s a large variety of different niches in every nook and cranny. Such an amazing state to conduct business if you ‘fit in’, from the hot spots of Pueblo and Colorado Springs, to Loveland in the north or small outdoorsy gems like Hartsel.

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.

STEP 7: FUND YOUR BUSINESS

How to Finance a BusinessWith the fourth-strongest economy in the US (2015) Colorado is experiencing a boom period in many respects that doesn’t show signs of waning despite the overall national scene (on the federal level). Funding is there, credit is available, CrowdFunding and Social Lending are very-serious options, don’t be intimidated. Just be sure to do your research and understand the resources your business actually requires to get off the ground.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like traditional suntan lines and snow. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

STEP 8: BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteLike the rest of the modern world your brand needs a website to be taken seriously and findable by potential customers. Whether it’s a complex ecommerce platform with all the bells and whistles, or a simple responsive one-pager that’s basically nothing more than a digital business card.

Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are a couple fantastic business website builders. Our favorites are Wix and Weebly. No matter which website builder you end up choosing, you’ll be in good hands since each one offers free support.

STEP 9: MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Social Media ChannelWhether we’re talking localized digital marketing, guerilla tactics, or personalized B2B networking…it’s all the same. If there was a formula for success it would look something like this:

Great Product/Solution + Personalized Marketing + Social Good Incentives = Successful Brand Expansion Campaign.

How long it lasts depends on a fair amount; incentives refer to building ways for the brand to give back, to donate, etc., within the business model.

Take Action: The Colorado people have so much to offer no matter what kind of business platform you intend to build. Honestly. You can feel it in the air, regardless of your altitude. People are excited, love to get moving and exercise, and really get behind brands that fit their niches. Reach out to them!

STEP 10: CONTINUE LEARNING & STAY INSPIRED

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsAfter steps 1 through 9, consider Startup Savant as a fabulous resource to keep you in the loop and motivated. We focus tons on tools and giving change makers a podium to positively impact others with. While going through your entrepreneurial journey, we’ll be right by your side.

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.

Colorado Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Colorado, 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
And

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