If you're wondering what the best business to start in Oklahoma is, knowing the resources and prospects for the state are important. While the state economy has had setbacks due to drop in oil and gas prices, there are still opportunities for you as an entrepreneur.

Benefits of New Business in Oklahoma

Oklahoma offers an opportune business climate. The state has favorable lands for building and governmental support, as well as business development centers and local chambers of commerce. These centers can offer you professional advice and resources to help you start or grow your business.

Low Cost of Living

One attractive benefit of doing business in Oklahoma is the low cost of living that reduces overhead expenses and makes hiring employees affordable. A major factor in lower living costs is low housing costs. According to Sperling's Best Places, the cost of living in Oklahoma is 84 percent of the national average. Housing contributes to the low cost with Sperling's list stating that national averages are equal to 100, but Oklahoma housing costs ranked 63.

Access to labor

Oklahoma has a low unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, but this is on the rise because of the gas and oil industry downturn. According to Mark Sinatra, CEO of Staff One, in recent years Oklahoma has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, despite the layoffs in the oil and gas markets.

Low Taxes, Simple Regulations, and Incentives

Some benefits of being a business owner in Oklahoma are the easily navigated regulations that make setting up or maintaining a business manageable. Oklahoma has modest tax rates with a corporate income tax of 6 percent and a sales tax of 4.5 percent of a business's gross receipts. The personal income tax has a top marginal rate of 5.25 percent. There is no capital gains tax. In addition to low taxes, there are incentives for entrepreneurs from the state that include the Small Employer Quality Jobs Program, aimed at companies with 90 or fewer employees. This program offers quarterly payments as incentives for starting small businesses. The quarterly payments may be as high as 5 percent of new taxable payroll for up to 7 years. Business owners can attribute qualifying payrolls to their employees' annual salaries if these are least 110% of the average county wage where jobs are located. In addition, a qualifying business in Oklahoma must attain 75 percent out of state sales.

Issues to Consider for Oklahoma Businesses

While Oklahoma is an ideal market for business because of the low living cost and availability of labor, there are some issues with doing business in Oklahoma. Unlike startup venture capital areas such as Silicon Valley, it is more difficult to access financing for new businesses. Venture capital is not as readily available as markets that are more active, and self-funding is an issue that Oklahoma business owners must consider. Another issue that business owners should think about is the downturn in Oklahoma's energy sector. While a downturn frees up labor for entrepreneurs to tap, it also means there will be less disposable income for potential customers that could harm business profits.

Business Resources

There are numerous resources for business owners in Oklahoma.

  • Oklahoma SCORE
    SCORE is a made up of volunteer business professionals and mentors who give advice to entrepreneurs.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration District Offices
    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers grants, financing, consultations, and counseling services. Opportunities to apply for federal government contracts and assistance after natural disasters are available for entrepreneurs.
  • Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers
    Oklahoma has a number of development centers for small business dedicated to supporting the development of small businesses.
  • Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies (CETES)
    CETES is an incubator organization offering co-working spaces and support services to encourage business growth. CETES provides mentorship, help in obtaining capital, and networking opportunities.
  • Innovation to Enterprise (I2E)
    The I2E is a private non-profit corporation that helps technological entrepreneurs. It collaborates with researchers, entrepreneurs, and other groups to help small businesses to spur innovation.
  • Oklahoma Venture Forum
    The non-profit Oklahoma Venture Forum connects investors and entrepreneurs, helping business owners find venture capital.

If you need help with your Oklahoma business decisions, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.