How to Start a Business in Washington

With the 6th strongest economic climate in the nation, Washington is a great place to launch your new business. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resources in your local area for help.

To Start a Business in Washington, follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea


The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Washington visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Tool

Step 2: Plan Your Business


Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

Our Business Planning Guide helps you analyze your business idea and gets you access to free planning tools.

Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.

Step 3: Form your Business


Registering your company as an Washington business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Washington for $230.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Secure your Domain

We recommend that you check to see if the business name you are planning is available as a web domain. Even if you aren't ready to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 4: Register for Taxes


With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important washington taxes that may apply to you business:

  • Most Businesses in Washington must pay a Business and Occupation Tax
  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Washington Sales Tax.
  • If you hire employees in Washington, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax
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Register for Washington State Taxes

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Business & Occupation Tax

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts


Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting


An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.

Try QuickBooks for free

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses


To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured


Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Washington, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand


The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high quality products and services.

Your business name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business. To learn more about creating the best name for your business, read our How to Name a Business guide.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence


A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’ credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile
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More than ever, people are looking for reviews before doing business. Yelp is an important aspect of social validation for your business, claim your page today and get $300 in Yelp advertising credit.

Sign up for our Business Center

Sign up for a free Business Center account for access to tools, legal documents, and discounts that will help you start and grow your business

Signup Now

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of Washington that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Seattle Local Resources

Business Impact NW

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

Business Impact NW is a non-profit organization that strives to provide under-financed entrepreneurs funding and technical assistance. They provide business consulting services and discounted courses on a variety of entrepreneurship topics through their partnerships with a Women's Business Center and Veteran's Business Center. These services are open to any entrepreneur who requests assistance. Among all their services, those business coaching and training programs that are affiliated with SBA are entirely free. In addition, you can apply for business loans directly through them.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1437 S Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98144
206-324-4330

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Seattle Resources

Spokane Local Resources

Startup Spokane

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Description

Startup Spokane is a program under Greater Spokane Incorporated that provides entrepreneurial assistance for small businesses and startups in the greater Spokane community. They offer free one-on-one consultation and mentorship programs. They host office hours with seasoned professionals, networking events and workshops, an annual venture expo, and lunch-and-learn classes. In addition, their coworking spaces are open to entrepreneurs who need a place to work.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

610 W. 2nd Ave
Spokane , WA 99201
509-321-3626
Startup@GreaterSpokane.org


WSU Center For Innovation

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning
  • Research

Description

WSU Center for Innovation offers technical assistance, particularly business research and planning assistance for small businesses and startups in the community. Their organization provides tailored support to startups in any industry that require planning or launching assistance, including market research or business plan formation.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

120 N. Pine St., Ignite Northwest Bldg
Sponkane, WA 99202
509-358-7897
Ebingerm@wsu.edu

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Spokane Resources

Vancouver Local Resources

Vancouver SBDC

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

The greatest strength of the SBDC is their free, confidential, 1-on-1 business mentoring for anyone who seeks it. Sometimes in order to be considered for mentoring from one of their professional business advisors, you may have to attend a class/workshop or at least present your business plan. SBDC's are located all throughout the state and you should use the SBDC closest to your location if possible, but you can often transfer to a different location if they do not fit your needs.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

802A Officer's Row
Vancouver, WA 98682

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Vancouver Resources

Wenatchee Local Resources

Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council is a charitable organization that mainly serves low or moderate income residents in Chelan and Douglas Counties. Among their programs, they have a workshop series for small business startups that covers business planning and market research, among many other topics. The workshop series is free and offers over 80 hours of instruction.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

620 Lewis St.
Wenatchee, WA 98801
509-662-6156 x 262
vickim@cdcac.org

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON - THU: 8 am - 5 pm

FRI: 8 pm - 4 pm

 

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See more business resources in Wenatchee

Wenatchee Resources

Yakima Local Resources

Yakima SBDC

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

The greatest strength of the SBDC is their free, confidential, 1-on-1 business mentoring for anyone who seeks it. Sometimes in order to be considered for mentoring from one of their professional business advisors, you may have to attend a class/workshop or at least present your business plan. SBDC's are located all throughout the state and you should use the SBDC closest to your location if possible, but you can often transfer to a different location if they do not fit your needs.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

10 N 9th St.
Yakima, WA 98901

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Yakima Resources