How to Start a Business in Oklahoma

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.

Guide – Start a Business in Oklahoma

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?

Step 1: Form a business plan

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.

What to Include in Your Business Plan

Here are the sections you’ll want to consider:

  • Executive summary: This is a summary of everything in the plan, so it may help to write it last.
  • Company description: What problem does your company provide a solution for? How does your company provide a positive presence in the world? Be specific in this part. Also, use this section to identify SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).
  • Market analysis: Who else is addressing this area of business? How are you different? What will you do differently that others aren’t doing?
  • Products and/or services: What exactly do you plan to sell or offer? Will you be earning money through the sales of products or services? Describe them with as much detail as possible and how they serve your customers. 
  • Management team: You’re at the top, but is anyone else helping you get this business off the ground? They may not be owners, and they could only serve as advisors. Use this section to let people know there are others working on the project who have unique skills.
  • Marketing plan: How will your target customers know your business exists? What exactly will you do to get your name out there and find the customers you need?
  • Financials: Think about what you’ll spend and what money will come in. At what point in time do you project the business to break even (bring in as much money as it spends)?

Need help creating a business plan for your Oklahoma startup? We put together a comprehensive library of articles and guides on business planning.

Step 2: Choose a business structure

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

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

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

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. 

LLCs and LLPs

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.

Step 3: Assess your Oklahoma business costs

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.  

Different Types of Costs

Think of costs in terms of one-time, fixed, and ongoing. The different types of costs in business ownership include:

  • One-time costs: These you’ll experience at startup time, like buying equipment. Once you’ve paid a one-time cost, it’s done.
  • Fixed costs: These have to be paid regularly, no matter how your business performs. These are things like the office/warehouse rent, utilities, and insurance fees. Those business incubators in Oklahoma can help keep some fixed costs low for you by providing low-cost office rental space.
  • Ongoing expenses: These are costs you’ll have regularly, but whose prices change as your business changes. For instance, if you sell more, you’ll probably have to buy more supplies to make your product.

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.

Step 4: Pick a business name

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.

Consider a Domain 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.

Step 5: Register your business and open financial accounts

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.

Open a Business Bank Account

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.

Licenses and Permits

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.

Business Insurance

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.).

Step 6: Market your Oklahoma business

Time to tell the world about your business. Consider how you’ll do this both in the real world and online. 

Marketing in Person

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.

Marketing Online

Online, optimize your website through search engine optimization (SEO), create a social media strategy, or hire an Oklahoma agency to help you. 

Benefits of Opening a Business in Oklahoma

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.

Growing Your Oklahoma Business

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.

Being Your Own Boss

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.

Choose a Business Entity in Oklahoma

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?

Business Structures to Consider

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.

Businesses that Found Success in Oklahoma

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.

The Bottom Line

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.

Top Oklahoma Cities to Form Businesses

Oklahoma City: State capital with a diversified economy centered on energy, particularly oil and gas. Growing aerospace industry supported by Tinker Air Force Base and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Investments in biotechnology and health sciences, with facilities like the Oklahoma Health Center.

Tulsa: Historical strength in the energy sector, with expanding interests in finance, technology, and manufacturing. Benefits from significant business infrastructure including the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, enhancing logistics and transportation. Diverse economy with a strong corporate presence.

Norman: Home to the University of Oklahoma, fostering a vibrant educational and research environment. Specializes in weather-related technologies and engineering, supported by the National Weather Center. Thriving startup ecosystem with opportunities in science and technology.

Edmond: Known for high quality of life and strong educational offerings, including the University of Central Oklahoma. Growing community of small businesses with strengths in retail, healthcare, and professional services. Close proximity to Oklahoma City enhances business opportunities.

Lawton: Economy influenced by the presence of Fort Sill military base. Opportunities in sectors providing services to the military and associated civilian workforce. Developing manufacturing and retail sectors.

These cities offer a mix of economic strengths, strategic locations, and supportive environments, making them suitable for various types of business ventures in Oklahoma.

We Can Help

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!

Oklahoma Business FAQs

  • Oklahoma boasts a large workforce and provides details about it by region to potential employers. The workforce is lagging in educational credentials.

  • Tulsa and Oklahoma City are rated in the top 50 cities for startups in the nation.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information 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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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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