Starting a business in Colorado can be a huge undertaking. The Colorado Business Resource Book is the most useful guide for businesspeople who are already starting or attempting to grow their business in Colorado. Topics covered by the guide include business bookkeeping, registering a business, and entry options, as well as other useful business advice. Anyone wishing to register their business can do so online with Colorado Secretary of State's office.

Entrepreneurs that have questions about licensing requirements for their business at the local, state and federal level can make use of the Small Business Navigator. By contacting the SBDC, business owners can take advantage of an individual counseling session and can request referrals for available government assistance. 

Anyone starting a business should check with the website of the Colorado Secretary of State to make sure their chosen name isn't already being used. Organizational paperwork for general partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships, and trade names must be registered with the Secretary of State. To contact the Colorado Secretary of State, call 303-894-2200. 

It's also important to decide if the name of the business will be different than the entity name. Filing a statement of trade name in the entity record will register that trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State. Information about trademarks and copyrights at both the state and federal level can be found with either the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the Colorado Secretary of State.

Colorado's economy is undergoing a booming period that seems to be resistant to troubles at the federal level. As of 2015, Colorado had the fourth-strongest economy in the country.

How to Start?

Every business needs a website, both to attract customers in a competitive marketplace and to establish itself as a serious entity. Business websites can either be extremely complex, as in an ecommerce platform, or very simple, like a digital business card. There are several types of advertising your business could use, including business to business networking, online marketing or on the street marketing.

When starting your business, there are a few steps that you need to follow:

  • Convene an initial meeting of your business's directors, managers, and shareholders.
  • If necessary, hold elections for new directors. You will also need to establish bylaws and appoint officers.
  • Decide which of your officers will be allowed to sign checks for the business.
  • Record any buy-sell agreements that take place between shareholders.
  • Establish how your stock will be sold, if you sell stock at all.
  • Develop a business plan. You will also need to establish a budget and cash flow projections, as well as deciding what your working capital needs will be.
  • A business bank account with a credit card should be established.
  • Learn about the tax requirements for your business entity.
  • Make sure that you have all the government forms necessary to establish your business. This includes unemployment forms, withholding forms, and workers' comp forms at the federal and state level.
  • Learn about sales tax at the state and federal level.
  • Develop your business product and determine its market.
  • Create both a marketing and distribution plan.
  • Advertise your business across multiple mediums, including radio, television, and the internet. You should also establish social media accounts for your business, develop a logo, and order business cards and signs.
  • Establish managers for your business and decide how they will manage. Also, have an attorney create upper-management employee contracts if necessary. Your attorney also needs to create contracts establishing how your materials will be purchased and your products sold.

How to Get a Business License

While Colorado has strict regulations, it is generally very business-friendly. The first step in acquiring your business license is to register to pay the taxes applicable to your business. Businesses in Colorado can apply for their tax identification number online. You may also need a license or permit if your business offer services such as:

  • Alcohol sales
  • Plumbing services
  • Bingo or raffle games 

Electronic forms that will allow you to file for or renew a business license can be found on the Colorado.gov Get Licenses and Permits Page.

Your local government may require you to obtain permits such as:

  • Alarm permit
  • Building permit
  • Tax permit or a business license
  • Permits for signs and zoning
  • Health permits
  • Occupational permit

If you need help with starting a business in Colorado, 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, Stripe, and Twilio.