How to Start a Business in Vermont

More than 154,000 small businesses operate in Vermont, making up 99% of the state’s total business. It offers a wealth of resources for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Vermont, helping offset the state’s higher taxes. And, if you’re looking for a location where your business can grow, consider that 80 million people live within a five-hour drive of Vermont.

Guide – Start a Business in Vermont

Let’s get organized! Follow these steps to start your business in Vermont:

Step 1: Create a business plan

The business plan is a critical component of success. All of your funding sources will request a look at your plan, as this is where you lay out your business idea, how it will work, what it will cost, and its profit potential. You’ll also refer back to this plan as you face decisions for your startup. In short: this plan will keep you on track. Don’t skip this step and make the same common, costly mistakes other small businesses struggle with as they begin.

Things to Consider for Your Business Plan

  1. Describe your specific business idea. What issue does it address or problem does it solve for Vermont residents? How?
  2. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). See how other Vermont startups organized their goals and plans by reviewing the LaunchVT Virtual Demo Night.
  3. Brainstorm what could go wrong and how you’ll prevent or address those scenarios. This also lets potential funders know you’re both realistic and proactive in setting the business up for success.
  4. Identify your customer. Drill down as much as you can here. Don’t be satisfied with “adult women.” Think, “Eco-conscious women in their thirties who have school-aged children but like to dress up and go out once a week with friends or on a date would be attracted to my line of dresses made sustainably.” There should be an element of your business in the description.  
  5. Delve into the plethora of economic opportunities and resources Vermont offers. 
  6. Count the costs. What will you need to purchase, and who will you need to pay to get this business off the ground in Vermont?   
  7. Choose a location. Vermont’s cities come with added incentives, put in place by Vermont to spur growth in those specific areas. They’re called “Opportunity Zones.”  
  8. Chart a course for growth. Remember those millions of people living within a five-hour radius of Vermont. Maybe appealing to them is your growth plan.

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

Step 2: Choose a business structure

Your business must be registered with Vermont and the IRS, which means you’ll need to pick a corporate structure. Your most common business entity options are corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or sole proprietorship

Sole Proprietorships

A sole proprietorship model allows you to get up and running quickly under your name and social security number. It does not, however, offer your assets or finances any protection from liability. Further, investments and grants may be less available to you as those programs often prefer other business structures. 


A corporation is more complex and operates as a separate entity from you, personally, so your assets are protected from liability. Corporations have officers, directors, and shareholders. The downside of this structure is double taxation. The corporation taxes profits and pays taxes on money the corporation pays you in the form of salary and profit share. 


An LLC is sort of the best of both worlds. It offers liability protection to your assets but avoids the double taxation of a corporation. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce says, “Nowadays, LLCs are the option of choice for small business owners, as they are easy to manage and provide the benefits of a corporation while lacking their complex structure.”

You can file for an LLC online. The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation provides information on the permits, business licenses, or registrations you may need.  

Step 3: Determine your Vermont business costs

Calculating your costs is an important exercise to take before spending the first dime. Think about the details of your business operation. Every item in that picture — from people to products — needs to be accounted for. As you list costs, consider categorizing them into fixed, ongoing, and one-time. 

  • Fixed costs are those that don’t change. No matter how much you sell, these costs won’t fluctuate, and you will have to pay them. Think rent, attorney, insurance, and bookkeeper. Companies like The Hartford in Vermont can help you estimate insurance costs. 
  • Ongoing expenses will go up and down, depending on your business volume. Think product component costs, shipping, and worker pay if you hire employees.
  • Last but not least are your one-time costs. What will you have to buy just once? Computers, furniture, and equipment come to mind.  

Need some help? Vermont offers several resources that can assist in counting up your business’s costs, including the Vermont Small Business Development Center. 

Curious about “how much it costs to start a business in Vermont?” Look no further. This helpful guide will walk you through business cost calculation and more.

Step 4: Create a business name

How do you choose the right name for your business? First, choose something not already in use because you can be sued for operating under someone else’s business name.

In addition to only being yours, the name should be memorable. Fuzzy McFee’s Frankfurters if you’re slinging unique hot dogs. Verily Vermont for a tourist shop. Get creative!

Once you land on a memorable name and are not in use, check to see if the website address and the social media presence are available. If the website is functional, register the domain name so no one else can swoop in and grab it.

Keep in mind that your business’s registered name isn’t necessarily the name it must operate under. You could use another name and register it as your DBA in Vermont (doing business as). 

Step 5: Register your business and open financial accounts

Now that you have a name and structure make your business official by registering it. Next, obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Tada! You’re official. 

Open a Business Bank Account

Open a business bank account for your Vermont company. Don’t mix business funds with personal funds. It makes taxes difficult and can affect your assets’ liability protection by the LLC and corporation structures.) Citizens Bank, Union Bank, Vermont Federal Credit Union, and Keybank are all friendly to Vermont’s small businesses.

Check For Licenses and Permits

Don’t forget to check what permits, licenses, zoning requirements Vermont may require for your business and what small business insurance you may require.  

Need more information about licenses and permits in Vermont? Read all about licenses for different industries and how to apply for them in our Vermont business licenses guide.

Step 6: Market Your Business in Vermont 

Time to get some customers! Grassroots efforts are often the best, so don’t be shy. Get involved and network with the numerous entrepreneur-friendly business organizations in Vermont. Join the Chamber of Commerce and civic organizations. Volunteer to help with community events and nonprofits. Hold an event in your store so the community can take a peek and see what your business is all about. Also, register the business location with Google My Business so Vermonters can find you. 

Remember the domain and social media presences you registered? It’s time to use them. Optimize your website for search engines, create a comprehensive marketing strategy, and be faithful when executing it. 

Don’t hesitate to get some help with advertising from local agencies if you don’t have time or this isn’t your bag. 

Benefits of Opening a Business in Vermont

Vermont offers new companies numerous benefits. Tax credits, loans, grants, investment relationship referrals and cultivation, Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, Think Vermont Innovation Grant Program, and the Vermont Commercial Solar Incentives are just a few of the ways this state rolls out the welcome mat for new businesses. The Vermont Economic Development Authority and the state’s Think Vermont program are treasure troves of guidance and gateways to financing relationships.

Start an Entity in Vermont

Still unsure what business structure in Vermont is best for you? Feel 100% certain by reading this guide that compares formation types.

Examples of Good Businesses to Start in Vermont 

Vermont is home to all sorts of industries, from ice cream to tech, giant corporations to mom-and-pops. Service industries drive Vermont’s economy via restaurants, drug stores, sporting goods stores, and healthcare services. Remember how we said beer was big in Vermont? Breweries are in the top 25 most concentrated industries in the state, along with ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturing and coffee and tea manufacturing. Vermonters are serious about making the stuff that makes life suitable!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our list of the best businesses to start in Vermont.

Bottom Line

While its taxes are high, Vermont has put in place tons of resources to help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running. Assisting companies to start and grow, even under challenging circumstances, appears to be a priority. It’s also only a beautiful place to live and work, offering the amenities that help keep you and your workers safe, healthy, and happy. 

Top Kentucky Cities to Form Businesses

Burlington: Vermont’s largest city, with a strong focus on sustainability and local businesses. Economic strengths in health services, education, and technology. Vibrant downtown and waterfront areas ideal for retail and hospitality businesses. Supported by the University of Vermont and numerous startup incubators.

Montpelier: State capital with a stable economy centered around government services. Growing center for the arts and food industry. Community-oriented atmosphere, suitable for small, local businesses. Tourist appeal due to historic sites and cultural activities.

Rutland: Key location for tourism related to nearby ski resorts. Economic revitalization efforts in energy, manufacturing, and technology. Suitable for businesses related to outdoor recreation and adventure tourism.

Brattleboro: Known for its artistic community and progressive values. Supportive environment for creative industries like arts and crafts, publishing, and sustainable agriculture. Hosts events and festivals that attract visitors from across New England.

St. Albans: Strong agricultural base, especially in the dairy industry. Growing sectors include manufacturing and renewable energy. Community focus evident from events like the Vermont Maple Festival, enhancing tourism potential.

These cities offer a mix of economic strengths, community-oriented environments, and strategic locations, making them suitable for various types of business ventures in Vermont.

Vermont Business FAQs

  • The filing fee to start an LLC in Vermont is $125.

  • Burlington was named the 12th best city in the United States for entrepreneurs.

  • The average Vermont income is $60,782 (slightly below the national average of $61,937).

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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