How do I find out what I need to do to legally operate a
business in Idaho?
First, go through the Business Wizard
on this site. You will be asked a few questions about your business and
then provided with a checklist of agencies to contact, the
reason to contact them, and a link to each agency's website. If you
don't find your particular industry listed, you should still complete
the Wizard and answer the questions about employees.
Also visit the Legal
Structure/DBAs section of this site for help in choosing and
registering a business
entity form and registering your business name.
To find out
if you need a business license, call your local city clerk's office. Some communities license only a few business
activities; others license all businesses. You will find a list of city
clerks offices at city clerks.
For assistance in
establishing your business, click on the Business Assistance
button to the left. Under
Business Formation and Expansion you will see
links to the Idaho Small Business
Development Center, Women's Business Center and SCORE, all of whom work
with start-ups. Click on each organization's link to
find a location near you, then make an appointment for a
do I register a trademark?
Your trademark can be registered in three
Unique business names and logos being actively
used in a business can be trademarked to protect them from use by others. To register your trademark
or service mark in Idaho, see http://www.sos.idaho.gov/tmarks/tmindex.htm.
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office -
Madrid System for the
International Registration of Marks -
After trademarking your
name or logo in Idaho, the trademark symbol ™ should be used on written
materials that include
the trademarked name or logo (including websites). If the trademark is
registered with the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office, the Registered ® symbol is used. Using
the symbol gives public notice that the logo or name is trademarked and
cannot be copied without legal consequences.
I have heard I need to follow numerous regulations if I
have employees. How do I cover all my bases?
First, click on the Employer Issues button
to the left and review the
information there. Then, click on the Employee or Independent Contractor
button on that page and review the information. You can have legal problems if
you wrongly classify a worker.
Next, go through the Business
Wizard and under Question 3 select either "Employees" or
"Both" (Employees and Independent Contractors). The resulting Checklist
contact information for
the agencies that regulate employment issues. Contact them to learn what
you must do to comply with their requirements.
What kind of licenses do I need to
be able to do business in Idaho?
It depends on your type of business; there are different
types of licenses and not all business
activities need a special license. To find out if your business needs one
(or more) licenses, click on the Licenses
button to the left and review the information there. Then, go through the Business
Wizard, and in Section 2, check all the items that may apply to your
business. After completing the Wizard you will receive a Checklist
indicating which agency licenses each activity. If your business's primary
activity does not appear in Section 2, then you may not need a
license. However, depending on your business, you may still be licensed
at the local (city and county), and/or federal level. Your employees may
also need individual occupational licenses.
Many Idaho cities require some or all
businesses to obtain a city business license. To find out if you need
one, call your local city clerk's office using the contact
information found at City_Clerks.htm.
If your business will be located outside the city limits, contact your
county clerk or recorder's office to find out about a county business
If you plan to sell a product or offer
certain types of services, you may need a sales and Use tax permit, also called
a reseller's permit. Visit the
Taxes section of this site for information.
If you plan to have a home-based business,
visit the FAQs question about establishing a home
to find out what additional licenses or permits you may need and
other special requirements that may affect your business. Also,
when you complete the Business Wizard choose
"Home Business" in addition to your business activity.
How do I find out if another
business is already using the name I want to use?
You can perform a Business Entity Search on the Idaho
Secretary of State’s website at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?SearchFormstep=crit.
After entering the name you want to use, the site will indicate if it is
already in use in Idaho. Also check for similar names
spelled differently or containing a slight variation, such as
Shoppe or Centre, and do an Internet search to find regional or
national companies using the same or a similar name. You may want to
avoid choosing a name similar to an existing business. Your business could
be confused with the other business and that may not be in your best
business will be registered as a corporation or an LLC, you must choose a
unique name not currently in use in Idaho.
Once you decide on
a name, print the
Assumed Business Name (also called a DBA) form from the
Idaho Secretary of
State's website and mail
it with payment. (On-line registration is not available.)
information on protecting your business name, see the Trademarks
FAQ on this page. Also visit the Legal Structure/DBAs
section of this website for more information on choosing and registering a business
name and entity type.
How do I obtain a permit to
make retail sales in Idaho?
To make retail sales in Idaho, you need an Idaho sales tax permit,
Idaho Business Registration Application.
If you plan to sell your products
for only a short time, such as at a festival or trade show, a
temporary sales tax permit
can be printed.
Businesses offering items for rent, such as construction or yard/lawn equipment,
tables, chairs, tents and similar items, also need a sales tax
permit. Sales tax is also charged on admission to special events and on
certain sports activities, such as golf and bowling.
How do I know whether to set up a Sole Proprietorship,
Partnership, Corporation, or an LLC? How do I change from one to the other?
Structure/DBAs page on this site contains a description of each
entity type recognized in Idaho.
Because your entity choice will
affect your tax payments, you may want
to consult an accountant and/or an attorney to be
certain you have selected the best entity type for your
If you choose to register as anything other than a sole proprietorship,
an attorney will need to prepare the required Operating
Agreement, Articles of Incorporation, by-laws, or partnership agreement,
all of which must comply with Idaho law.
To change from one business entity type to another, check
the information found on the Legal
Structure/DBAs section of this site. You may need the assistance of an
attorney and an accountant to properly close your existing entity type,
pay any taxes owed, change employee withholding accounts and file the
paperwork for the new entity type.
I am thinking of giving up my business. How do
I make that decision? What do
I need to do to close the business?
To close the business, several agencies
need to be contacted to
cancel permits and licenses, file a final tax return and
more. Begin by clicking on the Business Assistance
button to the left where you will find a list of agencies under
Business Sale/Dissolution, including the Idaho Small Business
Development Center, Women's Business Center and SCORE. Contact the nearest office
for a free consultation. A counselor can help you make the
decision to continue in business or call it quits and he/she
need a grant to start my
business. Who offers them and how do I apply?
Very few grants are available to start
or expand a for-profit business unless you have invented a
new technology. Most grants are available to non-profit and
community organizations to
expand their work or to fund special projects and activities.
With few exceptions, most of the
grants available to
for-profit start-up businesses are SBIR and STTR grants (Small
Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Research). If
you have invented an innovative product that will serve the national
interest, you may qualify for an SBIR or an STTR grant to help develop
it. Grants are offered by 12 federal agencies through a competitive
process. Information is
available on the following websites:
Grants for Innovation:
If you own an existing
for-profit business (not a start-up) that is engaged in the development of
new technologies or processes or your business uses natural resources in
an innovative way, you may qualify for a grant to develop your
technology. To find grant opportunities, see the following:
in America Grants: If your product is made in America and you
have problems competing with foreign businesses, you may be eligible for
assistance through the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center,
If you are a non-profit
organization, these sites will be helpful:
Other Programs: Special business assistance programs for
women, minorities, veterans, the disabled, and others are available, but these are
low interest loans, government contracting opportunities, and other types of
assistance. They are rarely for grants.
Your business may qualify for tax
incentives (tax credits) for certain business activities, such as creating new jobs
in an economically depressed area, hiring the
long-term unemployed, or bringing broadband to rural communities.
Incentives are offered at both the state and federal levels. State programs
are listed on the Idaho Department of Commerce website at
find federal tax incentives, make a search on the Internal Revenue Service website at
Agriculture Loans and
Grants: The Idaho Department of Agriculture offers several
financial programs. See
Finance Program: The Small Business Offering Regulations
program is administered by the Idaho Department of Finance. The program
enables businesses to accept investment funds from qualified Idaho
investors, who receive dividends if the business is successful. For
information, contact the Department of Finance at
Loans and tax
incentives for energy conservation programs are offered through the
Idaho Office of Energy Resources at http://www.energy.idaho.gov/financialassistance/.
for Women: Zion's Bank offers annual "Smart
Women Smart Money" grants. The competitive grants are for $3,000 or less for special projects in the following areas:
The program is currently
closed until spring 2015. For information, see
- Community development
- Continuing education and teacher support
- Child and elder care
- Health and human services
- Arts and culture
To find out about funding for which you may qualify, talk with a counselor at the Small Business Administration, the
Small Business Development Center, or SCORE. Contact information for each
organization is listed
in the Business Assistance section of this
site. Their services are free.
What is a vendor’s license and where do I get it?
engage in temporary retail sales or solicitation of sales for future
delivery, including selling door-to-door or at festivals,
events, and trade shows, may need a vendor’s permit or a temporary vendor’s
permit, sometimes called a solicitor’s permit. The permit is obtained
from the City Clerk’s office in the city
where you will be doing business.
If you are engaged in door-to-door
sales, you and each of your employees may need to obtain a permit
in every city where you work. Each of you will need a
background check before the permit is issued and you may have to post a
bond. You and each of your employees must wear your permits in a visible
location on your clothing where it can be clearly seen by the person
In addition to a vendor's license, you will
also need an Idaho sales tax permit or a temporary sales tax permit. A permanent permit
can be obtained by completing form IBR-1 found at
A temporary sales tax permit for one specific
event lasting less than 90 days can be printed at
How do I register to sell to the government or
become a preferred
state and local government agencies purchase everything from computers and
vehicles to cookies and coffee from small businesses. They also contract
with small businesses to construct or renovate buildings,
build or improve infrastructure (roads, bridges), maintain landscaping,
clean buildings and more.
Selling to Federal Agencies: Businesses must register with
System for Award Management (SAM) at
Information about contracting is found at
Requests for bids on government contracts are listed in
Federal Business Opportunities database,
https://www.fbo.gov/index?cck=1&au=&ck=. Once registered as
a Federal contractor, you can search the database to find bid opportunities.
(Government Services Administration) is the Federal government's primary
Find information on needed retail products and services and Federal
construction project bidding procedures at
Federal "Prime" contractors (major contractors) are
required to purchase a percentage of the goods and services they use
from small businesses. A list of prime
contractors is found in the GSA Subcontracting Directory at
http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/101195. Prime contractors list goods and services they are
an Idaho manufacturing assistance organization, helps Idaho businesses
qualify for government contracts by helping streamline manufacturing processes and procedures to make
businesses more competitive. TechHelp
partners with Idaho Procurement Technical Assistance Center and
the Department of Defense TechMatch Program. For information, see
Technical Assistance Center (Idaho PTAC), a division of
the Idaho Department of Commerce, also assists businesses in qualifying
for state and federal contracting opportunities. See
Selling to Idaho Agencies:
Before accessing bid opportunities, businesses must register at
Bid opportunities are found on the same site.
Not all state agencies list their contracting opportunities with SiComm,
instead posting bids on their individual agency websites. Idaho Transportation Department
construction and maintenance projects are posted at
ITD also administers the ID Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)
Supportive Services Program,
Idaho public works construction projects are posted at
http://dpw.idaho.gov. Idaho Department
of Lands contracting opportunities are posted at
For information about the State purchasing process, visit
or download the Vendor's Guide found at
Selling to Local Agencies:
Cities and counties generally list their bid opportunities in the
classified section of a local newspaper.
Woman, veteran and minority-owned businesses,
collectively known as disadvantaged businesses, may have preference in bidding on certain contracts through the various
Federal agencies' Offices of Small and
Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). To find a list of all
Federal OSDBU offices, see
Business Administration (SBA) offers several services for those
desiring to contract with the federal government. See
For information about the SBA's Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, visit
Woman-owned businesses can be certified
as eligible for government contracting by the National Women Business Owners Corporation,
Minority Owned Businesses:
The National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.
certifies minority-owned businesses; see
HUBzones: Businesses located in a
federally-designated HUBzone (an economically distressed area within a
city or county) have preference when bidding on federal contracting opportunities. For
information on the HUBzone Empowerment Contracting Program, see
map of HUBzone areas in Idaho
is found at
Federal Grant Preparation: For
information on writing Federal grant proposals and preparing follow-up
Where can I get a DBA
or Assumed Business
Visit the Legal Structure/DBAs
page on this website or visit the Idaho Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.Idaho.gov/corp/corindex.htm.
Before registering a name, you can search the Secretary of State's on-line database at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?ScriptForm.startstep=crit
to find out if another business is
already using the name you want or a similar name.
Can I advertise on this site or put a link on this site?
Any state or federal government agency or
organization can be represented on this site if they license or regulate
business activities or offer business-related services. Local agencies, such as city
and county clerks' offices, are not represented individually, because there are so many
and their requirements vary. There is no cost to
listed on the website. This is not a commercial site,
so no advertising is accepted.
If your organization fits the above
criteria and you want to be listed on the site, send us a message via E-mail, then we
will review your site for possible inclusion. Please do not
place a link on your site and then expect us to provide a
is a financing option designed to quickly raise funds by securing
many small donations from many contributors. The most common type of
crowdfunding involves soliciting donations to start a
business or launch a new product. Donors receive a specialty gift for donating. Two popular crowdfunding donation websites are
About 30 percent of businesses meet their funding goal.
If they don't, the business receives no money and the funds raised are
returned to the donors. Crowdfunding is most successful when a business
needs to raise a modest amount of money in a short time. The median donation is $25 and the average
donation is $70.
The most easily funded
products are games, art, books, music, food, and fashion and design. Crowdfunding is not
often successful for
service businesses, websites, app development and any other business
not offering a tangible product.
funding and debt funding are two other
types of crowdfunding. Equity funding involves selling small amounts of equity in a
business to a large network of purchasers.
is an example of equity crowdfunding.
Debt funding involves
providing microloans, usually to individuals in emerging
is an example of debt crowdfunding.
What loans are available
to start a
Banks and numerous private organizations
offer loans for everything from the purchase of a business to equipment
leasing to factoring (a loan against accounts receivables). Family and
friends may also be willing to lend money to help start your business. The
following loan programs are available to many small businesses, though
some are available only to established businesses, not start-ups.
Small Business Administration
Loans - The SBA does not lend money.
Rather, they guaranty loans to qualified individuals and businesses through
participating banks. To qualify, an applicant must meet both the bank's
and the SBA's requirements.
For information about applying
for an SBA loan, talk to your bank or visit
Idaho Prime Loan Program
Offered by the Idaho State Treasurer in cooperation with the
Small Business Administration and the banking community
and available to qualified small businesses and
start-ups. See http://sto.idaho.gov/Programs/IdahoPrime.aspx.
Energy Conservation Loans
Whole Foods Local Producer Loans
- Available to businesses who sell their products to Whole
Business Finance.com -
Matches businesses with over 4,000 lending resources. Enter
your loan criteria and your fico score and receive a list of potential
- A new method of raising funds
involving either securing many small donations from a large number of
people or offering a small equity share in a business to many small
investors. See the FAQ about Crowdfunding.
See the Venture Capital/Angel Capital
Resources - SCORE publishes the 60 Second Guide to
Financing Your Start-up Business
The guide will help determine
financing needs and offers tips on approaching lenders. Also see
the Business Loan Checklist
to be certain you have all the necessary documentation
before approaching a lender.
To find banks
and other resources in your area, make a search
on the Resource Wizard. For help, contact your
banker and/or your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center,
Women's Business Center or SCORE office for information about loan programs that may fit your
What do I need to know about tax reporting for a new business?
The State Tax Commission,
and the Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov,
are the primary taxing authorities. If you have employees, you
will need to pay Unemployment Tax (sometimes called unemployment
insurance). Other taxes may also apply, depending on
the nature of your business.
To find out what taxes
you may need to pay, complete a search of the Business Wizard.
The resulting checklist will include taxes and other required reports
and the agencies to contact.
visit the Taxes section of this website
for information on specific types of taxes that may apply to your
business activity and the agencies that collect them.
How do I establish a retirement plan for my employees?
Retirement plans must be established in a manner that
complies with Federal and state laws and Internal Revenue requirements. The U.S.
Department of Labor oversees the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(ERISA), which sets standards for establishing and maintaining
retirement plans. For information, see http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/retirement/consumerinfpension.htm.
For information on the Pension Protection Act, see http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pensionreform.html.
Revenue requirements for establishing small business retirement plans
are contained in Publication 560
How do I get my products
certified as green or organic?
To find a list of U.S. and international organizations
offering green certification for a wide variety of products, visit
livestock and organic soil amendment
(fertilizer) producers and handlers/processors can
obtain organic certification through the Idaho Department of Agriculture. See
and Idaho One Plan,
The U. S. Department of Agriculture administers the
National Organic Program for production, handling, and labeling of
agricultural products, including meat, poultry, seafood, alcoholic
beverages, beer and wine. For information, see
couldn’t find my business on the Wizard, so I didn’t go through it.
That only means you don’t need a special
license or permit. You should still go through the Business
Wizard to find out what tax reports and other forms are required for
your business and to learn about your responsibilities if you have employees or independent contractors.
I have an out-of-state business and plan to
do business in Idaho. How can I get information regarding Idaho
businesses may be subject to the same regulations as businesses located
in Idaho. Click on Business
Wizard on the menu to the left to obtain a customized
check-list of agencies from which you may need to obtain licenses or
Also contact the Secretary of State's
office to find out if you need to register your business in Idaho as a foreign
corporation or LLC, the Idaho State Tax Commission
to find out about taxes you may need to pay, including employee
withholding tax, and the Idaho Industrial
Commission if you have employees or independent contractors who will
be working in
bank says I need a business tax number or a personal tax number to open a business checking account. What do they mean and how do I
probably mean the Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number)
or your Social Security Number (SSN), sometimes called Tax ID Numbers. If you are a Sole Proprietor with no
employees and you don't make retail sales, you may be able to use your SSN. If you are
unable to use your SSN, you will need to obtain a Federal EIN.
In addition to your bank, most government agencies and
corporations with whom you do business will require you to have an EIN
even if you are a sole proprietor with no employees. For security
reasons, they no longer accept Social Security numbers as business
apply for a Federal EIN, complete IRS form SS-4 found at
is no charge and the process is quick and easy. You can apply by phone, fax, or mail.
Where can I find out about paying overtime?
Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's
website at http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/overtimepay.htm.
For other important information about having employees, click on the Employer Issues button
to the left or visit the
Idaho Department of Labor's website at
What is a Health
Insurance Identification Number and how do I get one?
If your business offers health insurance to employees,
you will need a National Standard Employer
Identification number to report claims electronically.
To learn more about this topic, visit
Your Employer Identification
Number (EIN) serves as your insurance reporting number.
How do I obtain a UPC code for the product I plan to sell?
Visit the website of GS1 US BarCodes and eCom,
formerly known as Universal Packaging Codes, at
I want to change the name of my business. Who do I
To change an assumed business name,
first notify the Idaho Secretary of State's Office using the form found at
http://www.sos.idaho.gov/corp/ABNform.htm. To change the
name of a corporation or LLC, contact the Secretary of State's
office for information.
You also need to notify the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS), State Tax Commission, and Idaho Department
of Labor to
be certain your taxes and other reports continue to be processed correctly. You
may also need to obtain a new EIN, Employer Identification
Number. For information, visit
You will also need to notify any state or
local agency from whom you have obtained a permit or license or
with whom you file reports on a regular basis.
My product is made in the U.S., a rarity today. Do I
need to do something to be able to advertise it as U.S. made?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
regulates advertising that promotes products as made in the U.S.A.
Information is available at
How can I have my product certified as organic or
The Idaho Department of Agriculture certifies
organic farms and food products
grown in Idaho. They also certify organic soil
amendments (fertilizer) made in Idaho. For information, visit
The U. S. Department of Agriculture administers the National
Organic Program for production, handling, and labeling of
agricultural products, including meat, poultry, seafood, and
alcoholic beverages. For information, see
To certify a non-food product, contact
Green Seal at
Energy efficient appliances and products are certified by the U.S. Government's
Energy Star Program. Also check the information about
"Green Certification" found on
the Hot Topics page of this site.
I want to sell my cookies and pies at our farmer's
market but they won't let me unless I have a commercial kitchen.
What is that and how do I make my home kitchen into a commercial
Commercial kitchens are inspected and licensed
by your local health department. Unfortunately, you cannot make
your home kitchen into a commercial one. A commercial kitchen
must be located in a separate area away from your home kitchen
with a separate entrance and locking door
and it cannot be used to prepare your family's meals. It must contain
specific appliances, shelving, stainless steel counter tops, and special sinks,
all of which can be
expensive to implement.
Many churches and senior citizens centers have commercial
kitchens and may be willing to rent space to you. Also check
with caterers and with restaurants that serve only breakfast and
lunch to see if you can rent space in the evening. With some
searching, there is a
way to make your business possible.
What is TERO? My company wants to bid on a project
on the Ft. Hall Reservation but they say we must have a TERO
TERO is an acronym for Tribal Employment Registration
Office. To perform work on most reservations your
company must employ Native American workers. You can
obtain information and the necessary form by contacting
the tribal office of any reservation where you plan to work.
The company I
am currently working for wants me to give them a W-9. What is it
and why do I need to do this?
A form W-9 is a "Request for
Taxpayer Identification Number." When a business
pays $600 or more in a calendar year to another business or individual
who is not an employee,
is required to file an information tax return with the
IRS. To do so, the business must obtain the
correct taxpayer identification number to include on the
Examples of businesses that require a W-9
include those that issue 1099s (such as to independent
contractors) and those that must report real estate
transactions, contributions to an IRA, cancellation of
debt, payments to a childcare provider and other monetary transactions. See IRS
Harassment is a touchy subject. What do I
need to know to protect my employees and myself?
On the job harassment takes many forms, none of which should be
tolerated. One employee may harass another; a supervisor may harass an
employee, group of employees or another supervisor; or a customer may
harass one or more of your employees. Harassment may be related to religion, ethnicity, sex, age, disability or another issue.
Every business with employees should have a
written harassment policy that is clearly
communicated to employees, both as a deterrent to harassment and to
inform employees of their rights if
they are harassed. It
is particularly important to have a written sexual
harassment policy because sexual harassment on the job violates federal
civil rights laws. Having a written policy your
employees know about may offer some protection if you are sued.
To find training videos and additional information about
preventing or investigating sexual harassment, see
For more information about employer responsibilities in
preventing harassment, see
Employee Handbooks on the Links page of this website.
I plan to start my business in my home. Are
there special regulations I need to know about?
Home-based businesses must conform with special regulations in addition to
the regulations associated with the product or service they offer.
To learn about the various requirements, go through the
Business Wizard. In Section 2 select the categories that apply to your
business and also select Home Business. The resulting Checklist
will include a combined list of agencies to contact. Also call your local city
clerk's office to find out if you need a city business license or a
special license for your business activity. Click here for a list of
city clerk's offices.
Your business will need to comply
with your city, county, and/or homeowner's or
neighborhood association regulations. If you rent your home or apartment or live in a condo,
check your lease agreement
or covenants to be certain a home-based business is allowed.
A home-based business must be
operated by a full-time resident of the home, not an employee. The
business must be a secondary use for the home; the primary use must remain
that of a residence. The character of the
home, interior and exterior, cannot be changed from that of a residence. In
most communities, a retail store, restaurant, coffee shop or similar
business where customers come and go cannot be operated from a home.
The business must comply with local
health, safety, and fire codes and with city and county ordinances. If you live
inside city limits, you may be required to conduct all business
activities inside the home, not in a yard, garage, or outbuilding.
must also comply with local regulations concerning signage, traffic,
number of employees, parking, noise, and air, wastewater, or soil pollution.
You may not be able to store supplies or materials in
a yard, garage, or outbuilding or park vehicles or equipment in your yard
or on the street.
Food Preparation -
Food sold to the public must be prepared
in a commercial kitchen, not in a home kitchen. If the kitchen is
attached to the home, the adjoining door must be locked when
the commercial kitchen is not in use. The kitchen will be regularly inspected and licensed by your
regional health department. It must contain special sinks,
stainless steel countertops, storage racks, refrigerator and more.
Child Care - If you care for seven or more children
in your home and you receive payment for
one or more of
them, a license
city clerk's office or from
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
home will be inspected
by the health department and the fire marshal before the license is issued
and regularly thereafter. (Note - many city licensing
requirements are more stringent than state requirements, so
be sure to check.)
Product/Service Restrictions -
Certain products cannot be
legally manufactured or grown in a home business. These
include fireworks and other potentially explosive items,
drugs and drug paraphernalia, poisons, noxious weeds or
insects, and sanitary and medical products. Some communities
restrict the production of additional items, so check with
your city clerk.
Some services, including those involving adults-only
activities, nudity, gambling, loud noise, the sale of
alcoholic beverages, tobacco or controlled substances or
that may violate a city or county ordinance are prohibited
in a home based business. Contact your
Businesses involving animals are subject to
numerous additional regulations and licensing requirements,
depending on the type and number of animals and the service
provided. A kennel or breeder's license may be needed; special waste handling and noise abatement procedures
may be required, as
well as other issues. You may also be required to have
Your city or county regulates the
number of employees a home business can have and the number of vehicles
they can park at the home or on a public street. State and federal
employment-related posters must be displayed. You must also have workers compensation
insurance, pay unemployment insurance taxes, both federal and state, and comply with
OSHA safety regulations. For in-depth information on employee-related issues, visit the
Employer Issues section of this
Most communities regulate the
size and type of signage allowed, if any, in a residential area. Check with your city clerk's
office for local
If you are considering
taking a tax deduction for your home office or shop or
hobby expenses as a business activity, check with an
accountant first. For information, see
Small business owners pay
taxes on the profit from their business. They also pay self-employment tax and may need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. For information
on tax issues, visit the Taxes
section of this website.
For information on Social Security and Medicare requirements for the self-employed,
including independent contractors, visit
All businesses need insurance, regardless of location. Check first with
your homeowner’s insurance agent or an insurance agent who writes
policies for small businesses. Not all home-based businesses are covered
by homeowner's insurance, particularly if the primary activity, such as
house painting, does not occur at the home. If homeowner's insurance will cover your
business, you may need to add additional coverage for business
equipment, inventory, or a business-owned vehicle.
If clients regularly visit your home, you have a dog or another
animal that might harm a client, your business involves animals, or other issues, such as
falls, might occur, you may
need to increase your liability coverage. Check with your insurance agent for information.
For information on other types of insurance
you may need, such as workers' compensation or product liability insurance, visit the Insurance
section of this website.
Home-based businesses have unique security issues that include allowing
strangers into the
home, protecting mail, computer security,
safety issues, both in and out of the office.
checks and financial information, can be protected by using a mailing address other than
your home address, such as a post office box or a mail box at a package shipping center.
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Center offers much information on protecting your home and yourself at
including recommendations on how to handle potentially dangerous
Using your home phone number as your business number
is not a good idea unless other family members,
particularly children, will answer all
in-coming calls in a professional manner. If a cellular phone
is used for business and you change carriers and phone numbers often,
your business will be negatively impacted when customers can't reach you.
Before opening a business in a home, check with your city or county
planning and zoning department to be certain you can legally do so. Most communities do
not allow retail businesses, such as stores or restaurants, to be
located in an area zoned for residential use, nor do they allow trucks
and equipment to be parked at a home or employees to come and go. If
a business is operating in violation of zoning regulations, it could be closed without
notice when planning and zoning learns about it.
Also check with
your homeowner's or condo association or your apartment lease to be
certain the covenants allow a business in your home,
particularly if employees, clients and/or delivery trucks will come and go.
If zoning regulations,
a homeowner's association or apartment complex do not allow client
meetings at your home, if you have young children, an unruly pet, or safety
is a concern, you may
need to meet clients at another location, preferably the client's office. If that isn't possible, you may be
able to rent temporary meeting space in an office complex or
another facility or hold an informal meeting at a coffee shop or another public
Business Considerations: If you start a business on the side
while working for an employer, the product or service offered
should not compete with the employer's business, nor
should company time, equipment or materials be used to pursue your
Closing Your Home Business:
When a business closes, several agencies
need to be contacted.
For information, visit the Business
Assistance section of this website.
If you are starting a home business in
response to an ad about earning money at home, BEWARE! Before you pay
any money, check
the links under
Scams & Schemes
Work-at-home scams are among the most prevalent. Meet with a counselor
at the SBA or your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center and
contact the Better Business Bureau in both your community and where the
business is located before sending
money. All are listed under Business
Assistance, Business Formation and Expansion.
I want to start a non-profit organization. How do I do
that and are there special regulations?
Non-profits are regulated in much the same way as for-profit businesses.
This site is designed primarily for profit-making businesses; however,
non-profits may find it helpful to go through the
particularly if they have employees.
To be classified as a
non-profit, approval must be secured from the Internal Revenue Service.
The process can be expensive and time-consuming and many business
activities do not qualify. Your attorney can assist with the application
process. Information about establishing a charity, tax reporting and
maintaining non-profit status is found on the IRS website at
The Idaho Non-profit
offers much information about establishing a non-profit in Idaho,
including information on establishing a board of directors, writing
by-laws, recruiting volunteers, financial record keeping and more.
The Idaho Law Center publishes the "Handbook
for Idaho Nonprofit Corporations," which explains
Idaho laws pertaining to non-profits. To obtain a
copy, contact the Idaho Law Center at 208-334-4500 or see
Look for booklet #05-10 under
"Business & Corporate Law." There is
a cost for the publication.
The Idaho Attorney General's office publishes the
booklet, Service on an Idaho Non-profit Board of Directors
The booklet explains the responsibilities and liability associated with
serving on the board of a non-profit organization.
For information about state sales and income
taxes that may affect your non-profit, see the Idaho State
Tax Commission's "Sales
Tax Brochure #50, Nonprofit Groups & Churches,"
page 1 of Idaho Form 41 instructions, "Who Must File a Form
If your non-profit is engaged in activities involving
children, the elderly, or vulnerable adults, your employees
and volunteers will need a background
check and to be fingerprinted. For information, visit
I had to fire an employee who used drugs on
and off the job. I don't want this to happen again. Where can I get
Employee use of
illegal or controlled substances is an increasing problem. According to the U.S. Department of
Labor, 75 percent of illegal drug users are
employed, and 3.1 percent say they have used illegal drugs before or
during work hours. The American Insurance Association reports that prescription drug
abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the
U.S. In addition, 79 percent of the nation’s heavy alcohol
users are employed, and 7.1 percent say they have consumed alcohol
during the workday.
Fourteen percent of heavy
drinkers (those who consume 5 or more drinks each day) are employed full
or part-time. Between 10 and 20 percent of workers who die on the job
test positive for alcohol or drugs.
help combat substance abuse both on and off the job, the Substance Abuse
and Mental Heath Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains a resource
center to help employers address these issues and to assist in creating
employment policies on
substance abuse. See
The U.S. Department of Labor
offers additional information, How Does Substance Abuse
Impact the Workplace?, found at
percent of large corporations have a drug-free workplace program but
less than 10 percent of small and medium sized businesses have one,
making them prime targets for addicted employees.
DrugFree Idaho can
help you establish a drug-free workplace program for your business.
Zoning closed my business. They said it was not allowed to be located
where it was. Can they do that? What recourse do I have?
Every city or county in Idaho has
zoning regulations with which businesses must
comply. Before signing a lease or a purchase agreement, first check with your city or county planning and
zoning commission to be certain you can legally operate your
type of business in the area you have chosen. For instance, you would not be able to establish a construction business in an
area zoned as
If a business is opened in violation of zoning
regulations, it can be immediately shut down when a zoning
inspector finds you or when someone complains. It may
then be difficult to terminate a lease or purchase agreement.
Some businesses, such as churches and day care centers,
may be able to secure a conditional use permit to operate in an area not
specifically zoned for their business type. Be sure to find out if
your business qualifies for a conditional use permit and can meet all
the requirements before you open it. If you attempt to operate your business without
it will be closed when the city or county finds you.
I've heard about venture
capital and angel investors but I am not sure how they work or if my
business qualifies for their help.
Finding venture capital
or an angel investor may seem like
the answer to many small business funding needs, and it may be if you
are in the right industry, have a solid business plan, a track
record in your industry or a related one, a qualified management team, and
you don’t mind giving
up a piece of your business and having someone watching over your shoulder.
Most venture capital firms invest several million dollars in the
companies they fund and in return expect a management position within the company
or a seat on the board of directors.
To find a
venture capitalist, ask
your banker, attorney, or accountant for a recommendation to a company
that specializes in your field and then arrange an introduction. (Most
VCs don't like cold calls.) Most venture capitalists prefer
companies in rapidly growing industries, such as technology or
bio-technology. Even then, only a small percentage of businesses (less
than 1%) qualify for funding.
Venture capital funding is a fertile field
for scam artists. Before engaging in business, call the Better Business Bureau in the community where the
located and ask about them. Contact the Attorney General’s office in the
state in which the business is located and ask if complaints have been
filed against them.
If your business is in the early start-up phase or you don't
need enough money to qualify for venture capital financing, seeking an
angel investor may be more appropriate. Angel investors are wealthy
individuals or groups that provide less money than venture capital firms. Like venture capitalists,
angel investors usually prefer to invest in rapidly growing small
businesses that will provide a high rate of investment return in
a short time. They will expect a seat on the board and may also take a management position within the business.
Your banker, attorney, or CPA may be able to arrange an
introduction to an angel investor. Like venture capitalists, angel
investors don't usually like cold calls, and only a small percentage of
businesses qualify for funding (less than one in 500).
Venture/Angel Capital Resource Directory,
matches investors with businesses seeking venture or angel capital. To
find venture capital and angel investors who invest in Idaho
businesses, do a search of the
For more information on venture
and angel capital funding, visit the Small Business Administration