Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
If you don’t “believe” in planning, then good luck and you can move on to step 2. However, if you recognize the incredible value in professional business planning then this is your first step. Take this as seriously as Idahoans take Boise State. Your plan will become invaluable in a large variety of ways, especially when you reach steps 7, 8 and 9.
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.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Choose Business Entity & Register
The next step is to decide which business entity is right for you and then register it with the state. Regardless of the type, once incorporated you and your brand will be protected and gain a variety of tax breaks. Most importantly, your personal assets (house, personal bank account, etc) will be protected.
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: Sync With The Idaho Tax Code
Depending on your specific legal structure and the type of business you’re in, there are a number of variables here. For example, you may need to register with other states, local agencies, state-level departments like the Department of Labor, etc. This is where you'll really want to do some research and be 100% sure you're compliant as an Idaho startup.
Take Action: Start with the Idaho State Tax Commission’s Businesses section on Idaho.gov. They’ve got links to all the information you’ll need including access to online services and an explanation of their system.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
The regulatory environment in Idaho is increasingly startup-friendly and not near as complex and mind-blowing as other parts of the nation. For some, a simple business license will do, for other startups there could be a fair amount which is why it's such a good idea to work with a lawyer or filing service through this part of the process.
- For DYI’ers give the Idaho Regulatory Requirements Wizard a try. For application instructions, bookmark the Idaho Business Registration Information
- If you need help getting everything together, a Business License Service is very helpful. 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 Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Step 6: Pick A Stellar Idaho Location
Idaho is a central northwest location with doorways to WA, OR, NV, MT, WY and Utah! But, in the beginning the most important thing to consider is which location has the most assets and will make managing the business easier? There's far too many variables to consider to just throw a dart at a map of the region. Be strategic.
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: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform
Your business is going to need capital once it reaches a certain level of success. Thanks to modern-tech you have more access to more resources than any other human being at any other point in history. Idaho has every option there is – CrowdFunders, social/conventional lenders, startup networks, grants and county/state-level programs, etc.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like white water and huckleberries. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
Getting a great domain and setting up your digital shop/agency site doesn’t have to feel like peeling a mountain of potatoes anymore. There are platforms now who’ve made the process of building a website much quicker and more affordable.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are some very good options. We highly recommend checking out Wix or Weebly, which are two of the most popular. Both help you build a professional business website while being very easy to use. No previous tech-skills required.
Step 9: Market Your Business
Let’s be frank with one another, there are no rules in marketing anymore. Well, there are laws, but in terms of methodologies it’s all a roll of the dice. Idaho is a friendly place with astounding demographics and networks so the most important thing you can do is get out there and learn more about your customers!
Take Action: Before heading online to reach out to strangers in rather impersonal ways, be sure to look at your current personal and professional networks.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
At this point you’re the proud owner of an Idaho startup, well done! Now you got to keep on your toes, because the journey’s just begun. Please keep Startup Savant in mind, in your professional Rolodex of reliable sources of valuable information from fellow change-makers and savvy tools.