Starting a Business?
Colorado is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the country to start a small business. And it seems simple. Tell some friends, maybe do a bit of advertising, set up a website or Facebook page, watch the money roll in. Or maybe not — starting a business is full of gotchas and half of all businesses fail in the first two years.
The Town of Calhan is a great place to start a business and we want you to be around for a long time, so here is a 12-point checklist and some resources to help you out.
1. Why do you want to start a business?
What products or services you will provide? Can you do it better/faster/cheaper than someone else, or is there enough demand to bring people to you?
2. Create a business plan
Create a plan for your first year in business. Be realistic; pessimistic, even. Who are your potential customers? How will you get their business? How much it will cost to start the business and keep it running for the first year? Work from home, from office, from storefront? How will you handle bad weather? Plan every detail you can think of.
3. Discuss the proposed business with your family
Even a very small business can have a large impact on a family. The more time, money, and attention you give to the business, the less you’ll have for your family. Discuss expectations and responsibilities, and set limits on how much the business can intrude on family life.
4. Choose the legal structure of your business
There are a number of ways your business can be structured: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), and others. Each has specific legal requirements and tax implications. Most home-based and small business are Sole Proprietorships, but research what will work best for your business.
5. Decide on a company name and get a trademark, if needed
Your company name appears on nearly every business document, so choose something that has meaning to you. Do a search to see if there are any businesses nearby with the same or similar names. Trademark the company name to give it legal protection. Your company name does not have to be the name that your customers see. You can have one or more Trade Names (also called DBAs—Doing Business As); especially useful if you eventually run several business ventures. Note that Trade Names can be registered but not trademarked,
6. Register and license your business
All businesses opened in Colorado need to registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. Registering is NOT the same as getting a business license. There are many businesses that do not need a business license; however, many businesses do need a specific license (or licenses) depending on the type of business and how it’s regulated.
The Town of Calhan requires businesses to obtain both a State and Local Sales Tax License for retail sales and certain services provided. A Transient Sales Permit is required for auctioneers, door-to-door sales, or any similar venture. An Alcohol Sales License or Private Security Services License may also be required. Contact Town Hall or see Chapter 5 of the Town Ordinance and Code Book for details.
7. Open a bank account and get tax IDs
Once you have registered your business, open a bank account. Always keep your business and personal finances separate! If your business will need to collect sales taxes, or pay federal or state taxes (most businesses) you will need a Federal Tax ID Number and a State Tax Number.
8. Arrange financing and insurance
For many types of business, especially if you plan to open a storefront or restaurant, you will need financing to make it through the first year. There are bank loans, and many federal and state loan and grant programs. This is where a detailed, realistic business plan will help. Colorado requires that certain types of businesses obtain liability insurance. You may also want business insurance to protect against theft, weather or fire damage, or business interruption.
9. Hire employees, if needed
If you can do everything yourself, great! But many businesses need helpers.
10. OPEN FOR BUSINESS!
CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made it this far and your business is now open for, um, business! After the Grand Opening, though, make sure you keep the books up. Make a schedule of what needs to be done when. You worked hard to get to this point, don’t let the business end because you slacked-off.
11. Market, Market, Market, Market
No one will come if they don’t know you’re there, so make sure you promote your business. Website, Facebook page, Twitter, business cards, even those old standbys of Yellow Pages ads and mass-marketing. Get the word out!
12. Don’t forget your life
Some businesses are a dream come true, where you look forward to work every day. Others are just work. Regardless, make sure you schedule time for family, friends, and yourself. No business works well if the owner is too worn out to work the business.
For Starting Business resources, check the Business Resources block in the righthand sidebar.
See Guide: Starting a Business in Colorado
Chapter 5 of the Town Ordinance and Code Book covers rules and regulations for businesses and selling, including licensing, sales and property taxes, alcohol sales, and more.
Business License Application
Here are links to more resources for starting a business: