Employee Retirement Plan - Establishing
Abuse in the Work Place
Payer Identification Number
Minorities, Veterans, Disabled
DBAs (short for "Doing
Business As") are used to
identify your particular business, such as "Jones Plumbing." Anyone planning to engage in business in Idaho must register the business name with the Secretary of
State's office before transacting business.
information on this topic, visit the Legal
Structures/DBAs page on this site.
Registering an Assumed Business Name does
NOT create a legal form of business (business entity), such as
a Partnership or Corporation, nor is it a business license.
Business licenses are issued by your city or county, not the
registering your Assumed Business Name with
the Idaho Secretary of State does NOT protect you from someone else using
the same name if you or they are a sole proprietorship (corporations and
LLCs must have unique names). Therefore, before you
register a business name, you may want to make a search at
to find out if another
business is using the
same name or a similar one, or has recently used it.
It is currently legal for more than one business to use a
name the same as, or similar to, that of another business if one or both
businesses are sole proprietorships. However, doing so can
create confusion between the two businesses and
you could be mistakenly associated with the actions of the other business,
including negative ones and financial ones, so it
is best to choose a unique name.
Once you have registered your unique business name, to protect
it from use by others, you can register
it and/or your unique logo as a trademark or service mark. To register
your trademark in Idaho, visit the
Secretary of State’s Trademark Division at http://www.sos.idaho.gov/tmarks/tmindex.htm.
National Registration: To protect your trademark
within the entire U.S., you can
register it with the U.S. Patent
& Trademark Office at
The Madrid System for
the International Registration of Marks, established in 1891, allows
businesses working in more than one country to register a trademark in
multiple countries with the completion of only one application. For
cannot register the same trademark. Therefore, before applying to trademark your name or logo, first do a
search to determine whether another business has already trademarked it or
something very similar. If they have not and you trademark it, then, if
someone attempts to use that name or
symbol, you can take legal action for trademark or service mark
After trademarking your business name or logo in Idaho,
you should use the trademark symbol ™ on written materials that include
the trademarked name or logo. If you register your trademark with the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office, you should use the Registered ® symbol.
Crowdfunding is a current financing
trend designed primarily to raise start-up funds or funds to
launch a new product. The most common type of crowdfunding involves
securing donations from the public. Companies attempt to raise funds by
offering a specialty gift in return for donations of varying amounts. For
instance, a company raising funds to import gourmet coffee might offer a
special mug for a donation of a certain amount or a pound of coffee for a higher
donation. Two of the most popular crowdfunding donation websites are
percent of products meet their funding goal. If they don't, the business
receives no money and the funds that were 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 popular, and therefore easily funded,
products are games, art, books, music, food, and fashion and design -
anything new and different. Crowdfunding is usually not successful for
service businesses, websites, app development and any other business
that does not offer a tangible product.
types of crowdfunding involve selling small amounts of equity in a
business to a large network of purchasers and financing microloans, also
called debt funding, by a crowd. Equity
funding is addressed in the JOBS Act signed into law by President Obama
in April 2012. It is currently under review by the Securities and
Exchange Commission. Crowdfunder is an example of equity crowdfunding. Kiva
is an example of debt crowdfunding.
Employee Retirement Plans -
Establishing a 401(k), SEP, or another retirement plan for
your employees will help with employee retention and may help
attract new employees. The plan 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, visit http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/retirement/consumerinfpension.htm.
Information on the Pension Protection Act is found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pensionreform.html.
IRS tax reporting requirements for small business
retirement plans are found in Publication 560 at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p560.pdf.
For information on establishing, operating, and terminating plans, see
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 much more.
Selling to Federal Agencies: Businesses interested in selling to
or contracting with federal government agencies must register with
Federal Contractor Registration at
Information about contracting is found at
https://www.uscontractorregistration.com/government-needs. Government agencies search
this database to find suppliers for needed goods and
Requests for bids on government contracts are listed in
Federal Business Opportunities database,
https://www.fbo.gov/index?cck=1&au=&ck=. Once registered
with FCR, you can access the database to find bid opportunities.
Information on Federal construction project bidding procedures and on
retail products and services needed by federal agencies, including food, is
(Government Services Administration) is the primary purchasing agency
for the federal government. Federal "Prime" contractors (major
contractors) are required to purchase a percentage of the goods and
services they use from small businesses. Prime contractors are listed in the GSA Subcontracting Directory at
You can contact these businesses to find out about selling your goods
and services to them.
TechHelp, 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 on their
Selling to Idaho Agencies: To sell to Idaho state government agencies,
you must first register your business at
http://www.sicomm.net/Users/registration.html or at
Then, you can sign up to receive e-mail notification of bid opportunities matching
your specific qualifications. Once registered with SiComm, you can access
many current bid opportunities posted at
Not all state agencies list their contracting opportunities with SiComm, choosing instead to post bid opportunities on their own websites. Idaho Transportation Department
construction and maintenance projects are posted at
Idaho public works construction projects are posted at
http://adm.idaho.gov/pubworks/dpwconstprojects.htm. 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 visit
For information about the SBA's
new Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, visit
HUBzones: If your business is located in a
federally-designated HUBzone (an economically distressed area within a
city or county), you will have preference in bidding on federal contracting opportunities. For
information on the HUBzone Empowerment Contracting Program, visit
To find a map of HUBzone areas in Idaho, visit
http://www.sba.gov/content/hubzone-maps. Portions of several Idaho cities and counties are designed HUBzones.
In a nutshell, very few grants are available if you want to start
or expand a for-profit business. Despite what you may see or
hear, once you sift through the hype, only a few grants (with many
restrictions) are available for starting or expanding a for-profit
business. Most grants are available to non-profit organizations to
expand their work or to fund special projects and activities. Grants are
also available to communities for job creation in economically depressed
areas, building infrastructure (highways, bridges, etc.) and creating or
expanding community development programs.
Many grants conferences
and books are scams. They say there is free money, and there is, but not
for a typical for-profit business.
For information on a national grant scam that has been around for years, visit this
page to read an article from the Consumer Fraud Reporting website.
You do not need to purchase books or pay for help to locate legitimate
grant opportunities. The information is available for free on the
Internet and from your local
Small Business Development Center or SCORE
SBIR/STTR Grants: 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 you develop it.
Grants are offered by 11 federal agencies through a competitive process. Boise State's
TECenter can help with
the application process and the
service is free. For information, check out SBIR and STTR programs at http://www.idahosbdc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.view&page=22
or visit these 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, visit the following websites:
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,
Non-profits: 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 welfare recipients or the
long-term unemployed, or bringing broadband to rural communities.
Incentives are offered at both the state and federal levels. Information
on State programs can be found on the Idaho Department of Commerce website at
find federal tax incentives, do a search of the Resource
Wizard on this site or make a search on the IRS website at
The Idaho State Treasurer in cooperation with the Small
Business Administration and the banking community offers the Idaho Prime
Loan Program. This is a low-interest loan program, not a grant, available to qualified small businesses. For information, visit http://sto.idaho.gov/Programs/IdahoPrime.aspx.
Loans and tax incentives for energy conservation
programs are offered through the Idaho Office of Energy Resources. For
information, visit http://www.energy.idaho.gov/financialassistance/.
The site includes information on the federal Rural Energy for America program,
which funds grants and guarantees loans to agricultural producers and
rural small businesses for assistance with purchasing renewable energy
systems and making energy efficiency improvements.
for Women: Zion's Bank offers annual "Smart
Women" grants. The competitive grants are for $3,000 or less and are
available for special projects in the following areas:
- Community development
- Continuing education and teacher support
- Child and elder care
- Health and human services
- Arts and culture
The program is accepting applications
through June 28. See
To get the truth about grants and loans, talk with a counselor at the Small Business Administration, the Idaho
Small Business Development Center, or SCORE. Contact information for each
organization is listed
in the Business Assistance section of this
site. A counselor will help you determine the best funding options for your business. Their services are free.
For more information about grant scams, visit the Scams
& Schemes Hot Topic on this site. Also visit
Trade Commission's website at
The FTC files fraud charges against companies that conduct misleading grant workshops and
those advertising that, for a fee, they can provide grant
For information about business loans, see the
Loans section below or do a search on the
Certifying your business or product as
eco-friendly or organic informs potential purchasers that your company
cares about the environment and is actively engaged in sustainable
practices. Once certified, you can include a logo and/or information from
the certifying organization on product labels, in brochures, on your website and in other marketing materials.
To find a list of U.S. and international organizations
offering green certification for a wide variety of products, visit
If your business produces organic food products
or an organic soil amendment (fertilizer), contact the Idaho Department of Agriculture
to obtain organic certification. For information,
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
On the job harassment takes many forms, none of which should be
tolerated. One employee may harass another; a supervisor may harass an
employee or group of employees or another supervisor; or a customer may
harass one or more of your employees. The 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 them 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. In a 1998 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court made
employers more liable for the actions of employees even if the employer
is unaware that harassment has occurred. 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 and
Nondiscrimination Compliance on the Employer Issues page.
Home-based businesses must conform with special regulations in addition to
the regulations associated with the type of product or service they offer.
For example, you may need a Home Occupation Permit or a Conditional Use
Permit to comply with city or county zoning regulations.
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.
Be certain your business can comply
with your city, county, and/or homeowner's or
neighborhood association regulations before you open it
in your home. 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, particularly if clients, employees, or delivery
trucks will come and go.
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. (This
is particularly important if you plan to care for children, vulnerable
adults, animals, or prepare food for sale to the public.) 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 - If you plan to sell food prepared in your
home, you will need to install a commercial kitchen in a
separate area away from your 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. You will be required to install special sinks,
stainless steel countertops, storage racks, refrigerator and more.
Child Care - If you plan to care for four or more children
in your home, you will need a license from your
city or from
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Your
home will be inspected
by your regional health department and by 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, sanitary and medical products. Your community may
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
city clerk's office
Animals - Businesses involving animals are subject to
numerous additional regulations and licensing requirements,
depending on the type and number of animals involved and the
service provided. You may need a kennel or breeder's license and/or
be subject to special waste handling and noise abatement procedures, as
well as other permits. You may also be required to carry
If you don’t contact the agencies governing home
businesses, they will contact you and you may have to pay taxes and
possibly fines for the months or years you were in business before they located you. If your
business does not comply with zoning regulations or is operating without a
conditional use permit (if required), you could be forced to close the
business on very short notice.
Your city or county regulates the
number of employees your home business can have and the
number of vehicles they can park at your home or on a public street. You will be required to display
in your home office or shop. You must also carry workers compensation
insurance, pay unemployment taxes, both federal and state, and comply with
OSHA safety regulations.
For in-depth information on employee-related issues that may affect
your business visit the Employer Issues section of this
Signage: Most communities regulate the
size and type of signage allowed, if any, in a residential area. For instance, in
Boise an unlighted sign no more than 2 square feet (2'x1') may be
displayed. Check with your city clerk's
office for your local
If you are considering
taking a tax deduction for your home office or shop, check with an
accountant first. Some rules regarding recovery of expenses may not be
in your best interest. For instance, if you take a deduction for a home
office, you will not be able to use your office area or your office
equipment, including computers and printers, for any purpose other than
business. When you sell the house, you must pay taxes on the portion of
the house you excluded in previous years.
If you are
considering writing off hobby expenses as a business activity, check
with an accountant first. Special tax regulations cover hobby businesses
and you must have income from the activity to deduct expenses. For more information, visit
http://www.irs.gov/ and look for
small business owner, you must pay taxes on
the profit from your business. You will also pay self-employment tax and you 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 http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10022.html.
Financing: Home-based businesses may have difficulty
securing loans, particularly for start-up financing. Banks
generally limit start-up funding to 50% of what you need. You might use
savings or loans from family and friends to finance the balance. To apply
for a loan you will need to have a good personal credit rating and a
well-written business plan with financial statements. You will be expected to provide collateral as
security for the loan. This may include pledging your home, a vehicle, or
other personal assets in addition to business assets. Interest rates and repayment requirements vary by
You will need to insure your business regardless of where it is located.
Check with your homeowner’s insurance agent or an insurance agent who
writes policies for small businesses. Not
all types of home-based businesses are covered by homeowner's insurance,
particularly if your primary activity, such as house painting, does not
occur at your home. If your homeowner's insurance will cover your
business, you may need to add additional coverage for business
equipment, inventory, or a business-owned vehicle.
You may need to increase your liability
coverage if clients regularly visit your home, you have a dog or another
animal that might harm a client, or other issues, such as
falls, might occur. 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.
Security: Home-based businesses have
issues. These include allowing strangers into your
home, protecting mail, computer security,
safety issues, both in and out of the office.
You can protect your mail, particularly
checks and financial information, by using a mailing address other than
your home address. If you receive or send a large number of packages,
neighbors may complain about delivery trucks coming and going. Using the
services of a package shipping center, where you can also rent a mail
box, can solve both problems.
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Center offers much information on protecting your home and yourself at
including a recommendation that you create a security plan for your
business describing how various emergencies will be handled.
Using your home phone number as your business number
is not a good idea unless you are certain other family members,
particularly children, will not answer the phone or will answer all
in-coming calls in a professional manner.
If you use a cell phone as
your business phone, you may have
difficulty listing your business in your local phone directory and in the Yellow
Pages. If you change carriers and phone numbers often, that will
negatively impact your business when customers can't reach you.
You will also not be listed in the directory or Yellow Pages if you
use your home phone number as your business phone number. You must
have a separate business phone line.
Zoning: Before opening a business in your home, check with your city or county planning and zoning department to
find out if you can legally do so. For instance, you may not be able to
operate a construction business from a private home if you park trucks and
equipment around the home or employees come and go. Most communities do
not allow retail businesses, such as stores or restaurants, to be
located in an area zoned for residential use. If
you are operating the business in violation of zoning regulations, your business 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 your covenants allow you to operate a business from your home,
particularly if employees, clients and/or delivery trucks will come and go.
zoning regulations, your homeowner's association or apartment complex do not allow client
meetings at your home, if you have young children, an unruly pet or another distraction, or safety
is a concern, you may
need to meet clients at another location. The best solution is to meet the
client at his or her office. If that isn't possible, you may be
able to rent temporary meeting space in an office complex, hotel, or
another facility. Depending on the nature of your business and the formality
of the meeting, you may be able to meet at a coffee shop or another public
If you can't meet clients at your home office, or you
don't want to deal with interruptions caused by unannounced visitors, don't list your address on your business cards,
website, or in advertising
materials. Instead, list only your phone number or email address and say "By
Business Considerations: If you start your business on the side
while working for an outside employer, the product or service you offer
should not compete with that offered by your employer's business, nor
should you use company time, equipment or materials to pursue your
Closing Your Home Business:
If you decide to close
your home-based business you will need to contact several agencies.
For information, visit the Business
Assistance section of this website.
CAUTION - 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 Hot
Topics below. 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 call your nearest Better Business Bureau before you send
money. All are listed under Business
Assistance, Business Formation and Expansion.
To find information on inventing, product
development, commercialization and more, visit http://www.idahosbdc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.view&page=16
or visit the Links section of this
website by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.
Contact the organizations listed that offer unbiased
help. There are many and most are free. Also visit the
websites offering information on Invention Fraud and
patent attorney. You will need one eventually, so do it early in the
process. For further assistance, contact the Small Business Development
Center office in your area.
CAUTION - Before giving money to anyone to help you with your
invention, check with the many government and non-profit organizations
offering free, unbiased help. Many scams prey on trusting inventors. They often want money up front to evaluate the
patentability of your invention, then more money to help you develop a
prototype, evaluate the market, file the patent, etc. You may get
little or no real help from these organizations. They may be reluctant to
give you qualified references of inventors who used their service with
success as well as inventors who used their service with no success (even
harder to get). They often provide no strategy for commercializing your
product (taking it to market). If they do file for the patent, the
application may be weak and not provide the protection you need. If they don’t
produce any results for you and you want your money back, you may need to
take them to court, and that can be a long and costly process.
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
If your business meets the criteria, you may qualify for
an SBA-guaranteed loan. 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. Additionally, the bank must
certify that it would not provide this particular loan
under the proposed terms and conditions without an SBA
To find out if your business qualifies
for an SBA loan, talk with the loan
officer at your bank or visit
Express - The SBA created the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative for veterans,
active duty members of the military, reservists and their spouses or
widows who want to establish or expand
a small business. Ask your banker for details or visit
-The SBAExpress program offers small business
borrowers an accelerated turnaround time for SBA's loan
document review. A response to an application is usually
received within 36 hours. In addition, lower interest rates
may be offered when a loan application is made through
an Express program. See
http://www.sba.gov/content/express-programs for details.
- This SBA loan program helps
established businesses meet short term and cyclical working capital needs.
Talk to your banker or visit www.sba.gov/content/caplines.
SBA loans for Sam's Club
Members - In July 2010 Sam's Club, in
cooperation with Superior Financial Group, announced a pilot
program offering SBA loans of up to $25,000 to Sam's Club
qualifying members. (You must be a member of Sam's Club to apply.)
Priority is given to minority, veteran, and woman-owned
businesses and micro enterprises. The program offers a 20%
discount on loan origination fees and quick turn-around time
to pre-qualify. Applications are made on-line. For information,
visit http://www3.samsclub.com/NewsRoom/Press/734?pid=WalmartStores and
Idaho Prime Loan Program
- The Idaho State Treasurer in cooperation with the
Small Business Administration and the banking community
offers the Idaho Prime Loan Program. This low-interest loan program
is available to qualified small businesses and start-ups. For information, visit http://sto.idaho.gov/Programs/IdahoPrime.aspx.
Energy Conservation Loans - Loans for energy conservation
programs are offered through the Idaho Office of Energy Resources.
Information is available at
Business Finance.com -
This website matches businesses with over 4,000 lending resources. Enter
your loan criteria and your fico score and receive a list of potential
http://www.businessfinance.com for details.
- This new method of raising funds
involves either securing many small donations from a large number of
people or offering a small equity share in a business to many small
investors. For information, see Crowdfunding
Angel Investors - Angel investors
are individuals or small groups who invest in start-up or
businesses that have the potential to provide a high rate
of return in a short time, usually high tech businesses.
To find an angel investor, talk with your CPA, banker, or
lawyer and ask for a referral. Most angel investors do not
like to be approached directly. To find angel investors who invest in
your particular type of business, do a search on the Resource
Resources - SCORE publishes the 60 Second Guide to
Financing Your Start-up Business found at
The guide will help you determine your financing needs and
offers tips on approaching lenders. You may also want
to read through the Business Loan Checklist found
to be certain you have all the necessary documentation
before approaching a lender.
To find banks and other loan providers in your area, do a
search of the Resource Wizard on this site.
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 can
also find useful information by going through the Business Wizard
and answering the questions about their business. The information will be
particularly helpful if you have employees or use the
services of independent contractors.
To be classified as a non-profit, a business
must obtain approval from the Internal Revenue Service. The
process can be expensive and time-consuming and many business activities
do not qualify. Your attorney can help
with the details and file the application for
you. For information on applying for non-profit status, visit
The application form is found at
You may find the IRS information on The Life Cycle
of a Public Charity, found at
to be helpful.
Once the IRS grants non-profit status, failure to file an
annual information tax return for three consecutive years may result in
the organization losing its tax-exempt status. For information see
The Idaho Non-profit Center offers much information on
establishing a non-profit in Idaho. The
Center can help with creation of a board of directors, volunteer
recruiting, fund raising, writing by-laws, creating a website,
financial record keeping, and other issues. Their website is
If you are thinking of starting a non-profit
organization, you will find helpful information at http://www.idahononprofits.org/ResourcesResearch/HowtoStartaNonprofit/tabid/73/Default.aspx
The Idaho Law Center publishes the "Handbook
for Idaho Nonprofit Corporations" and "Now
Am on a Non-profit Board, What Do I Do?" Both explain Idaho laws concerning non-profits
and your responsibilities when serving on the board of a non-profit organization. To obtain a
copy of either publication, contact the Idaho Law Center at 208-334-4500. There is
a cost for each 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 organization, refer to 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 to submit to a background
check and be fingerprinted. For information, visit
Small business owners, people wanting
to start a small business and small business employers are prime targets
for scams, schemes and fraudulent activies. Among the most common issues are:
The following organizations offer assistance in dealing
with scams, schemes, and fraud in the business community, including
- Better Business Bureau -
investigates business schemes and charitable giving scams - http://www.bbb.org.
Visit the Business Assistance page on
this site for
links to local BBBs.
- Federal Trade Commission
- registers consumer fraud complaints. File a complaint on-line
at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. The
FTC does not investigate or resolve your specific complaint. Rather, they collect
information about complaints filed with other agencies and use the
information to track patterns of misconduct by specific companies or
within certain industries. Therefore, you should file your complaint
with both the appropriate agency (department of insurance, etc.) and
with the FTC.
- created by over 20 nations to address cross-border consumer
complaints - http://www.econsumer.gov/english/
- Idaho Attorney General -
The Consumer Protection Division investigates complaints of consumer
fraud and regulates telemarketing activities, including enforcing the No-Call
and telephone solicitation laws in Idaho. For information, visit
- Idaho Mortgage Fraud Resources -
report suspected cases of mortgage fraud, both business and personal - http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/mortgage_fraud/report_Idaho.asp
- Idaho Real Estate Enforcement Division
- report illegal acts committed by real estate agents and brokers licensed in
Revenue Service - investigates tax fraud complaints and tax
schemes - http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=121259,00.html
- Internet Crime Complaint
Center - This is a joint effort of the FBI, the Bureau of Justice
Assistance and the National White
Collar Crime Center to locate and prosecute Internet schemes and scams
- National Check Fraud
Center - investigates complaints of check fraud. For
information, visit http://www.fraud.org/tips/internet/fakecheck.htm.
Also contact your bank.
- National Association of Insurance
Commissioners - investigates complaints of suspected
insurance fraud. File an on-line report at
Also contact the Idaho Department of Insurance at http://www.doi.idaho.gov/investigations/investigation_home.aspx.
- National Fraud Information
Center - accepts complaints, particularly against telemarketers
and Internet schemes. Complaints are forwarded to the proper
agency for investigation. http://fraud.org/about.htm
- National Inventor Fraud
Center, Inc. - information on frauds committed against inventors -
- Office of Homeland Security
- report fraud, waste or abuse related to natural disasters and disaster payments -
of Justice Criminal Division - investigates violations of Federal
law, including bank fraud, securities schemes, computer and internet fraud,
intellectual property crimes, and other
complex white-collar crimes. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/reporting.html
Postal Service - investigates mail fraud complaints and schemes
involving the U.S. mail system -
https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/filecomplaint.aspx. If you are a victim of identity theft that involved the mail, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/IDTheft.aspx
or call toll-free 877-876-2455.
- Welfare Fraud - if you
suspect a business owner or an employee of welfare fraud, including food
stamp fraud, see
- Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud
- see the Insurance section of this Web site at
Abuse in the Work Place
According to the U.S. Department of
Labor, 75 percent of the nation’s current illegal drug users are
employed, and 3.1 percent say they have used illegal drugs before or
during work hours. According the the American Insurance Association,
abuse of prescription drugs 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. The greatest percentage of
drug users are between 16 and 25 years of age and are
employed in construction, mining, manufacturing, food preparation and service,
To 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 employee policies on
substance abuse. The information is found at
U.S. Department of Labor elaws, How Does Substance Abuse
Impact the Workplace?, is found at
Ninety 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. Visit their website at
All businesses must have a tax payer
identification number for tax reporting and other business
purposes. If your business is a sole
proprietorship with no employees, you may be able to use your Social Security
Number, though most businesses with whom you work will
require an EIN (to protect you and them from identity theft). If you
have employees or do business with
corporations or government agencies, you will need to obtain
a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN or
which will be your tax payer ID number. Your bank may also
require you to have an EIN for account identification
For information about obtaining an
EIN visit the Internal Revenue Service website,
www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html. There is no cost to obtain a number and the process is quick
If you change the name of your business or
the entity type (such as from a partnership to a
corporation), you may need to obtain a new EIN. For
information click on the IRS link above.
If you have an EIN and then close your
business or the business is never actually started, you will need to
notify the IRS in writing. See
information. Once an EIN is assigned to a business, that number is yours
forever. Should you later reactivate the business, you can also
reactivate the EIN number.
If your business offers employee health insurance, you will need to use a National Standard Employer
Identification number for electronic claims reporting. The
Department of Health and Human Services recommends that
businesses use their Federal Employer Identification Number
(EIN) as their health insurance identification number. For
Idaho does not issue a state tax payer ID
number; your federal number is acceptable for doing business
Venture Capital: Finding venture capital
may seem like
the answer to many small business funding needs, and it may be if you 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, check with
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. They may ask for a sizeable up-front fee to review
your business plan with no assurance they will fund your business.
Before you make a commitment, spend some time researching the VC firm. How long have
they been in business? How large is their investment fund? Who are their
partners? What is their expertise? Get a list of their past investments. Check their
references. What equity percentage of your
business do you have to give them? Did you find this VC firm through
legitimate sources (attorney, accountant, banker)? Call the chamber of
commerce and 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.
Angel Investors: 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
Angel investors are wealthy individuals or groups that provide smaller
amounts of 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 is found at
http://www.vfinance.com. The site
matches investors with businesses seeking venture or angel capital. To
find venture capital and angel investors interested in investing in Idaho
businesses, do a search of the
For more information on venture
and angel capital funding, visit the Small Business Administration
Minorities, Veterans, Disabled
Special business assistance programs may be available to
businesses that employ or are owned by women, minorities,
veterans, or the disabled (called "disadvantaged" businesses). For assistance in locating a program, contact your nearest
Small Business Development Center or Small Business Administration
office. Most programs give preference in government
contracting or provide tax credits. They do not offer grant money, despite
what you may have heard.
If you are a veteran or active duty military
and you own a business,
you may qualify for the Small Business Administration's Patriot
Express pilot loan program. For information see Loans
above. Also visit the website of the SBA Office of Veterans Business
Numerous government contracting
available to qualified disadvantaged businesses. Some can be found in the Links
section of this site. Others can be found by doing a search on the Resource
Wizard on this site. Also see Government
Contracting/Procurement above. You must be registered with either
the state or federal government or both to bid on contracting opportunities.
SBA's new Women-Owned
Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program provides opportunities
for woman-owned businesses that desire to contract with the federal
government. For information, see
We have all seen the ads for
work-at-home opportunities on telephone poles,
in the newspaper classified section, and on late-night
TV. They sound so promising, so easy. In reality, many are
scams. Among them are envelope
stuffing, jewelry assembly, rebate processing, and medical billing or claims processing. Before
you invest money, check it out. Visit the Federal
Trade Commission's (FTC) websites at
and http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/bizoppflop.shtm. For
information in Spanish, visit
Also check Work at Home Truth,
to find legitimate opportunities as well as updates on current scams.
The U.S. Postal Service files postal fraud
charges against those who use the mail to perpetrate fraudulent
work-at-home schemes. For information, visit
Before accepting a work-at-home
"opportunity," talk to a counselor at the Small Business
Administration or the Idaho Small Business Development Center;
their services are free. They are listed under Business
Assistance, Consulting and Counseling on this website. Check out the
opportunity with your
local Better Business Bureau or the BBB
in the city where the business is located. Also visit
the Scams & Schemes
and Conditional Use Permit Compliance
Every city or county in Idaho has
zoning regulations with which your business 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. Zoning laws prevent
certain types of businesses from operating in certain
areas. For instance, you would not be able to build a
convenience store in an area zoned for agricultural
use, nor can you establish a construction business in an
area zoned as
If you open your business in violation of zoning
regulations, it can be immediately shut down when a zoning
inspector finds you or when a neighbor complains and it may
be difficult to terminate your lease or purchase agreement.
Home-based businesses must also conform to
zoning regulations, as well as regulations established by
their homeowner's association. More information on this topic
is found under Home Business
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.