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Do you have a business idea that you’re positive will be successful? Starting a business in Oklahoma shouldn’t include countless obstacles. The process should be easy, making the prospect of being a business owner attractive.
Owning an Oklahoma business opens up so many possibilities to make a name for yourself and earn the capital you’ve always wanted. And better yet, businesses can be certified as minority-owned or women-owned, further making the business landscape a more opportune arena.
When you’re setting out on a big task like starting a business, it can be helpful to break the mission into smaller steps. By focusing on each one, you’ll arrive at your desired goal of becoming a small business owner.
So, what are the steps to start an Oklahoma business?
The first step to creating a successful business is writing a business plan. Your business plan will be your guide for starting the business and keeping it running. You can include as much information in it as you want. In fact, the more detailed it is, the better.
The type of business you plan to start, which industry you’ll be working in, and which business structure you’ve decided on will also determine how this plan will be written and how you’ll plan to earn money. Anyone putting money into the business, either as a loan or grant, will likely request to see your business plan. Make sure it is expertly written.
Here are the sections you’ll want to consider:
Need help creating a business plan for your Oklahoma startup? We put together a comprehensive library of articles and guides on business planning.
The structure you choose for your Oklahoma business should be suited to your specific tax and ownership situation. A few of the options include a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or sole proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business entity. It offers easy management and full control of the business. It does not, however, provide any liability protection for your personal assets. That means that if the company gets into legal trouble, your personal assets may be at risk.
A corporation, which can be designated as an S corporation or C corporation, provides a shield of protection for your personal assets.
C corporations come with the dreaded whammy of double taxation. This means that the money in a corporation gets taxed and, when you get paid by a corporation, that money gets taxed again on your income taxes.
S corporations aren’t subject to double taxation. Instead, you and the other owners report the company revenue as personal income. But there are some significant restrictions as to who can qualify for S corporation designation, and it takes a lot of time and paperwork to earn that certification.
A happy medium that offers both personal asset liability protection and avoids double taxation is the LLC or limited liability partnership (LLP). Both options are available in Oklahoma. Certain industries like accounting, law, and other professionals that require a license often choose the LLP structure and most other small businesses choose LLC. Note that banks and insurance agencies cannot be LLCs or LLPs.
You can file your business structure online with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, which also provides information about the various fees required.
Before starting a business in Oklahoma (or anywhere, for that matter), it’s important to calculate your business costs. U.S. Bank released a study that revealed poor management and understanding of cash were significant factors in business failures.
If you don’t know your business costs, then you can’t know your business cash flow. Let’s take a look at some business costs you should expect to run into.
Think of costs in terms of one-time, fixed, and ongoing. The different types of costs in business ownership include:
Curious about “how much it costs to start a business in Oklahoma?” Look no further. This helpful guide will walk you through business cost calculation and more.
Now for the fun part: picking a business name. Brainstorm a list of possibilities. Think about words in your industry or location that will attract customers. You can even use your own name as a business name. Then, look critically at the list. What’s memorable, unique, and easy to understand?
After narrowing down the list, check to see what’s not being used in Oklahoma already. If you have a business name ready, then we can reserve it so no one else can take it while you’re busy setting up the business.
Is your business name taken?
Validate your Oklahoma business name
Check in the online world, too, and see if the website address and social media handles for this name are available. Once you find a business name that no one else has online, register the domain and related social media handles.
Register your new business in Oklahoma using the structure you selected earlier. Then, unless you chose to operate as a sole proprietor, you’ll likely need to hop onto the IRS website to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN). This will serve as your federal tax ID number, while sole props can use their social security number for this purpose. You can get an EIN with us.
The registration and EIN paperwork are necessary to open a business bank account. The one thing you don’t want to do is mix your personal and business expenses. This can affect the liability protection for your personal assets and it can get confusing when filing taxes.
Many financial institutions in the state offer specific services for entrepreneurs wanting to open a business bank account. Do some research and ask around before deciding.
Oklahoma does not require a license to start or own a business. There are business licenses and permits required for certain industries and to engage in certain business activities, though, such as the sales tax permit. Additionally, the city or municipality where you open your business may have license and/or permitting requirements.
Need more information about licenses and permits in Oklahoma? Read all about licenses for different industries and how to apply for them in our Oklahoma business licenses guide.
To round out your registrations and account openings, consult with an Oklahoma business insurance agent to learn about what type of business insurance you may need (general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.).
Time to tell the world about your business. Consider how you’ll do this both in the real world and online.
For real-world initiatives, register your business location with Google My Business, hand out business cards liberally, and think about partnering with other local merchants for events and sales initiatives.
Join a civic organization or donate some of your products to a prominent non-profit so that the community can see you care and are there to serve them. If your customer audience isn’t local, think about how you can adapt these ideas to your target market.
Online, optimize your website through search engine optimization (SEO), create a social media strategy, or hire an Oklahoma agency to help you.
Business location is one of the most important factors you’ll have to weigh. Oklahoma makes it simple to start a business by keeping costs and taxes low. Tax incentives and credits offset costs. And with programs and incentives for automotive, aerospace, and defense businesses, the state has been very welcoming to companies in different industries.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum and well-known i2E help fund and grow start-ups in Oklahoma. Incubators are scattered throughout the state, offering guidance, networking opportunities, space to work, and educational programs for entrepreneurs. And, if that’s not enough, they even offer one-on-one help for people with a terrific business idea.
In addition to Oklahoma-specific benefits, being a business owner lets you be in charge, controlling every aspect of the company from its branding to its product. You can craft an environment that suits how, when, and where you want to work.
Before getting started, you’ll have to choose the right business entity for your idea. Each has its advantages, like offering a specific business structure. Be sure to do some research to make an informed decision. Which business structure below appeals most to you?
Here are a few business structures to consider:
Also make sure to speak with an expert like a business attorney to make sure that whichever legal business entity you go with is best for you.
Still unsure what business structure in Oklahoma is best for you? Feel 100% certain by reading this guide that compares formation types.
There are many companies in Oklahoma that started small and found incredible success. They include Devon Energy, WPX Energy, INTEGRIS Health, and Heartland Payment Systems.
Startup success stories from the well-known Oklahoma-based venture capital fund i2e include WeGoLook (sold an 85% interest for $36 million in 2017) and Prescott, a pharmaceuticals start-up.
Aerospace and defense is a big industry in Oklahoma, as it is home to the largest Department of Defense air depot and commercial airline facility in the world, along with more than 1,100 aerospace entities. If you’ve got a business idea that would serve the aerospace and defense industry or become a part of it, you would be in good company in Oklahoma.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our list of the best businesses to start in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is a small business-friendly state with low fees and taxes, and clear-cut government communication. There are numerous forms of assistance to help entrepreneurs get their business going here, both from venture capital funds and small business incubators to individual sessions with Oklahoma government workers.
If you have a grand business idea but have little way of making it a reality, then we want to help you get started doing business in Oklahoma.
We can help you form a limited liability company or a corporation. Our many business formation services have helped entrepreneurs make it big. What are you waiting for? Get started today!
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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