Starting a Business in Idaho: 8 Essential Steps

Aerial View of Downtown Boise, Idaho in Summer

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Polina Solovyeva
Written by Polina Solovyeva
Written byPolina Solovyeva
Updated November 08, 2023
Edited by Carlos Serrano
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Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the expansive plains of the Great Basin, Idaho offers a unique backdrop for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Its business-friendly environment, high quality of life, and skilled workforce make it a great place to start a small business. We created a step-by-step guide to help you start a business in Idaho, from idea to incorporation.

Start Operating in Idaho: Key Points

  • Small businesses make up 99.2% of all companies in Idaho, thanks to the state’s low taxes, developed infrastructure, and talented workforce.[1]

  • Your Idaho business can be a limited liability company, a corporation, or a nonprofit. 

  • Idaho doesn’t have a state business license, but you may still need to apply for federal, state, or local permits, depending on the nature of your business. 

Set the Stage for Business Success

Easily start your business and remain compliant with our all-in-one tools, guiding you well past the initial setup with the right support and documents.

Start Your Business Journey

Ready to Start an Idaho Business?

Becoming a small business owner in Idaho doesn’t have to be complicated. A brand-new entrepreneur can complete the incorporation process and start operating in Idaho. However, it’s essential to research the business formation process and get all the necessary information instead of jumping in blindly. 

You’re not alone on your journey. In the following sections, you’ll find the eight essential steps to setting up a business in Idaho that you can follow to incorporate in the Gem State successfully. 

1. Choose a Business Idea

The first step to starting a business in Idaho is to develop a promising business idea. Some entrepreneurs know what they want to do immediately, but for most small business owners, the ideation process takes time. From figuring out what you’re truly passionate about to calculating startup costs, there are various factors to consider. 

If you’re searching for inspiration, here are a few things you can do to develop a winning business idea for your new venture.  

  • Start with your skills and passions. Being a small business owner can be incredibly fulfilling if you love what you do. Identify your interests and hobbies and brainstorm how to turn them into an Idaho business.

  • Do market research. Figure out where the opportunities are. Idaho’s economy boasts of “a balanced mix of traditional and emerging industries” with great potential in food production, tourism, and outdoor recreation.[2]  

  • Solve a problem. Your small business can make a positive impact on significant issues. Think about how you can contribute to helping your local economy or community. For example, you can start a green business for better sustainability.

  • Consider the finances. It’s crucial for your business idea to be financially viable and have the potential for profitability. Estimate your potential revenue, ongoing expenses, and startup costs.

  • Plan for the future. Make sure that your business idea will stay relevant in the long term. Avoid blindly following trends and instead focus on starting a sustainable business. 

Choosing the right concept for your new business can take time, but few things are more rewarding than becoming your own boss. Whether you want to leave your 9-5 or are thinking about starting a small business as a recent college grad, there are endless opportunities out there. Stay persistent and don’t be afraid to have bold dreams. 

2. Draft an Idaho Business Plan

Starting a new business requires meticulous planning to improve your prospects of success. A well-executed business plan serves as a roadmap that outlines your business goals and how you will bring them to life. It’s important to have a business plan before starting the business formation process to minimize risks and avoid costly mistakes.

There’s no one set business plan format that every business needs to follow to start operating in Idaho. You can draft a traditional business plan or a leaner startup business plan depending on your goals and preferences. That said, consider integrating the following sections into your business plan: 

  • Executive Summary: a short overview of the most critical parts of your business plan, including your mission statement, goals, and target market.

  • Company Description: a summary of your business concept and your key differentiators.

  • Market Research: a detailed overview of your target audience, leading competitors, industry trends, gaps, and opportunities.  

  • Products and Services: an explanation of your products and services, including their most important features and benefits.

  • Marketing Plan & Sales Strategy: an overview of your sales funnel and how you’re planning on attracting customers and promoting your business.

  • Financial Projections: a breakdown of your anticipated revenue, expenses, and other important financial considerations.

  • Operations Plan: an explanation of how your business is going to operate on a day-to-day basis, including whether you’re going to hire employees. 

Spend a reasonable amount of time on your business plan and consider sharing it with trusted mentors or advisors to gather feedback. As your business grows, you must regularly update and refine your business plan. This document will help you improve your company for many years to come. 

→ If you’d like more guidance on how to create a functional business plan, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has downloadable business plan templates that you can use. The Idaho Small Business Development Center also assists with business plan research. 

3. Select a Business Name

Choosing a business name for your new venture is a big decision. Your business name should communicate your business idea and mission, resonate with your target market, and comply with Idaho naming requirements. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the possible options out there, so here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Do an Idaho business search. Your business name must be unique. Idaho law says that you can’t register a legal entity using a name that another company already uses.[3] So, confirm that your desired business name is not already in use. You can use our Free Business Name Search tool.

  • Make it clear and relevant. It’s tempting to get creative and develop a complicated business name for your brand. However, for better recognition and memorability, it’s best to stick with concise, simple, and easy-to-pronounce names.

  • Check domain name availability. Most businesses need to maintain a digital presence for marketing purposes. Ideally, your domain name and social media handles should be an exact match for your business name so it’s easy for your target audience to connect with your brand. 

Once you find a business name that you like and that meets state requirements, you can reserve it with the Idaho Secretary of State for a $20 fee. Name reservation is an excellent option for entrepreneurs considering starting a business in Idaho but need some time to figure things out before they move further along with the business formation process.  

Digital entrepreneur, business owner and reading with contract, proposal and paperwork

4. Choose a Business Structure

There are different kinds of business structures available in Idaho. It’s essential to research the advantages and disadvantages of each type of business entity and choose the one that best serves your vision and goals. Selecting a business structure is not a mere formality. It heavily impacts your tax obligations and legal requirements that your business may face. 

You can register your business as a limited liability company (LLC), a corporation, or a nonprofit. You can also file for a DBA (doing business as) if you want to conduct business under a name that’s not your legal name. If you’re filing for a corporation, some small businesses may qualify for S corporation status for tax benefits. 

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the default unincorporated business structure for entrepreneurs. It’s not a legal entity and you don’t need to file any business formation paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State to become a sole proprietor. However, you may still need to obtain business licenses and permits. By definition, sole proprietorships can only have one owner. 

As a sole proprietor, your business and personal assets are the same. There’s no separation between you and your business, meaning you don’t have any personal liability protection. Your property and personal finances may be at risk if your company has debts or faces legal action. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC) 

A limited liability company is a hybrid legal structure that combines the freedoms of a sole proprietorship with the strong liability protection of a corporation. LLC owners can still report their business revenue as a part of their personal income tax the way sole proprietors do, but registering an LLC creates a separate legal entity to protect your personal assets. 

At the same time, limited liability companies face fewer management responsibilities and record-keeping requirements than corporations. This makes an LLC an attractive business type for entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can start an LLC in Idaho in just a few minutes with Swyft Filings. 


Starting a corporation offers various advantages, including solid liability protection and the ability to issue stock. It’s also much easier to sell a corporation than it is to sell an LLC. Many medium-sized and large businesses are corporations, but small businesses can also be corporations. 

Corporations are typically subject to what is known as “double taxation.” In contrast with limited liability companies, corporations have to file separate tax returns, and shareholders can’t report their business earnings on their income tax. As a result, your business profits are taxed twice: first at the corporation level and second when you pay your income tax. 

Some startups can avoid double taxation by applying for an S Corporation tax status. We can help you form a C corporation and obtain an S corporation status accurately and swiftly. 


If you don’t want to use your legal business name to operate your business or run multiple branding campaigns, you can register a DBA (doing business as). If you run a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, a DBA can help you boost credibility and is typically required to open a business bank account. 

Nonprofit Organization 

If your business is advancing a social cause without expecting profit, you can form a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits can qualify for tax-exempt status and are funded by donations instead of investments. Public schools, charitable foundations, and churches are examples of nonprofit organizations. Start a nonprofit for free with us.  

5. File Business Formation Documents

To officially complete your business registration, you must submit business formation paperwork to the Idaho Secretary of State. What type of business formation documents you need to file depends on your chosen legal structure. You’ll also need to cover a filing fee.  

Idaho LLC Formation Documents

To form your LLC in Idaho, you must prepare a certificate of organization and file it with the Secretary of State. This document is also known as a certificate of formation or articles of organization. You’ll need to provide information about your company and the address of your Idaho registered agent. 

Consider creating an LLC Operating Agreement and keeping it on file in your principal office. Idaho doesn’t require limited liability companies to file an operating agreement with the Secretary of State. Still, it’s a crucial internal document to help you run your business more successfully. 

Idaho Corporation Formation Documents

You need to file articles of incorporation (also known as the certificate of incorporation) with the Secretary of State if you want to form a corporation. You’ll need to provide your business’s name, the number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue, your registered agent’s name and address, and other information about your company. 

The State of Idaho also requires the board of directors or members of a corporation to adopt corporate bylaws to regulate and manage internal affairs.[4]

How to File Business Formation Documents in Idaho 

You can file your business formation documents online on the Idaho Secretary of State website or manually as a paper form. Submitting your formation documents manually requires an additional $20 processing fee. 

You must fill out your business formation documents truthfully and accurately. Even small mistakes and inconsistencies can compromise your liability protection or result in legal issues for your business later. We’re here to help you accurately form your LLC, corporation, DBA, or nonprofit organization in just a few minutes.  

6. Apply for Idaho Business Licenses and Permits

There are no general business license requirements in Idaho. However, your small business may need to obtain business licenses, permits, or certifications depending on the nature of your activities. 

Your startup may face business license requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. As a business owner, you’re responsible for knowing what business licenses you need to get. 

Federal Licenses

The federal government regulates specific industries, such as alcoholic beverages and logistics. You can check if your business falls under one of the regulated industries here. If it does, then you’ll need to get a federal license to start operating in Idaho. Remember that getting a federal license doesn’t satisfy state or local requirements. 

State Licenses

You may need an occupational license to carry out specific business activities in Idaho. Plumbers, acupuncturists, and midwives are just some of the regulated professions that require additional licensing after incorporation.[5] You can use Idaho Business Wizard to check if there are additional licenses, permits, or taxes that apply to your business.

Local Licenses 

Your business may also need local Idaho business licenses to operate in your county or municipality. For example, Boise requires sidewalk cafes, vendors, and childcare facilities to get a permit to “maintain the health, safety, and general welfare of the public.”[6] Contact your city clerk or county clerk for more business resources on local licensing. 

Apply for Business Licenses with Swyft Filings

It’s essential to get appropriate business licenses for your small business, but figuring out which licenses, permits, and registrations your business needs can be confusing and time-consuming. Our team of business professionals can help you figure out what types of permits you need and obtain them from appropriate government agencies.  

Stylish Young Male Small Business Owner Working on Laptop Computer in Warehouse Facility

7. File and Report Business Taxes

It’s crucial to file and report business taxes accurately and on time. Failing to comply with tax obligations can result in severe penalties and legal consequences. As a small business owner, you must determine what taxes you must pay and when, so do appropriate research and set reminders for important deadlines. 

Most small businesses must pay a federal tax to the IRS and appropriate state taxes. Business owners will also need to pay an income tax. Idaho also has a state-wide sales tax and a franchise tax for corporations, but corporations aren’t subject to both the franchise tax and the income tax.[7]

8. Open a Business Bank Account

Your business needs a separate bank account to stay in good standing with the IRS and ensure liability protection. Having a dedicated place for your business finances makes accounting much more manageable. 

Most business owners must obtain an employer identification number (EIN) to open a business bank account. This number is also known as a federal employer identification number. The IRS uses it to identify your business for tax purposes. You can think of it as a social security number but for your business. We can help you get your EIN today

Take Your First Steps Toward Small Business Ownership

With its business-friendly environment and low cost of living, the Gem State is an attractive place for entrepreneurs to bring their business ideas to life. To start operating in Idaho, you must go through a business formation process and register your startup with the Secretary of State. You may also need to obtain business licenses and permits to comply. 

We’re here to help you start a business in Idaho successfully and swiftly. Whether you’re forming an LLC, a corporation, a nonprofit, or a DBA, our dedicated Business Specialists will take care of all the paperwork while you focus on doing what you genuinely love — growing your business. 

Your Dream, Our Mission: Partnering for Success
  • Your Perfect Fit: Whether you're looking at a simple LLC or a dedicated nonprofit, we'll help you identify the best structure for your dream business.

  • Continued Support: Your entrepreneurial journey doesn’t stop at formation. Our key management services help ensure your business thrives. 

  • Tailored Affordability: Get value-packed options suited to your business needs, starting at just $0 + state fees.

Begin Your Business Journey

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Idaho a good place to start a business?

Low corporate and personal income taxes, minimal regulations, a skilled workforce, and a high quality of life all make Idaho a desirable place for entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

How much does it cost to start operating in Idaho?

Startup costs vary from business to business. At the very least, you must cover a filing fee when registering your business with the Secretary of State. The price to start an LLC or a corporation in Idaho is $100 if filing online and $120 by mail. Remember that you may also need to apply for business licenses and purchase necessary inventory or equipment. 

Can I start a business in Idaho without a business plan?

It’s highly recommended to create a thoughtful business plan before embarking on a new business venture. It will help you make more informed decisions and increase your chances of building a profitable and sustainable business. 

What does Idaho require to start a business?

To register your new small business with the Secretary of State, you must file business formation paperwork. You’ll need to provide details about your business, such as your business name, address, and contact information of your Idaho registered agent. Depending on the nature of your business activities, you may also need to apply for business licenses. 

What is the process for starting a business in Idaho?

Start with solidifying your business idea, turning it into a business plan, and choosing a unique name for your business. Then, file your business formation paperwork with the Secretary of State and ensure that your business complies with the law by obtaining any necessary business licenses, filing taxes on time, and opening a business bank account. 

Why are most LLCs in Delaware?

Delaware offers unique opportunities to entrepreneurs and small business owners unavailable in other states. Learn more about starting an LLC in Delaware.  


  1. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Small Business Profiles for the States, Territories, and Nation 2022.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  2. Idaho Department of Commerce. “Key Industries.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  3. State and Federal Resources for Business. “Assumed Business Name (DBA).” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  4. The Official Website of the Idaho Legislature. “Idaho Statutes.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  5. Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. “Professions and Occupations.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  6. The City of Boise. “Licensing.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

  7. Idaho State Tax Commission. “Income Tax for Corporations.” Accessed September 11, 2023. 

Originally published on November 08, 2023, and last edited on November 08, 2023.
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