There are a number of steps to take in planning to open a new business or opening a business in College Place for the first time. Generally, prior to siting a location for the business or obtaining any permits or licenses you will need to access resources that help you define:
- Your business model
- Your customer segment
- The type of legal entity your business will operate as
- Where and how you can secure financing
- What local resources exist to help you plan for your business
A. Business Plan
The first step to planning for your new business is to begin writing your business plan. While the plan itself may not be fully fleshed out, the framework will give you an idea of the components you still need to fulfill. The U.S. Small Business Administration outlines both key components of a business plan, and gives you resources to fill out the sections and access information for your idea, including but not limited to:
- Snapshot of business, and components you will expand upon within your plan
- What you do, how you're business is different, markets your business will serve
- Industry research, competitors, and differentiation within market segment
- Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Cooperative, Corporation, Partnership, S Corporation
- What you sell, offer, or do; how your product/service is different than other similar products/services already on the market
- How you plan to market your product/service; sales strategy and ongoing promotion
- Loans, grants, partners; outline how you'll use the funding if awarded and how you'll seek to repay or match what is receiverd
- What will it cost to start your business, what are your revenues and expenses
- Accompanying plans, methods, and details of your businesses team, existing research, and analyses
Click Here for the SBA Business Plan Builder Tool
B. Entity Structure
Click the headings below for information from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on corporate entity structuring. Further down this page you will find information on filing your corporate structure in the State of Washington, and how to file for state and local licenses if applicable to your business.
Individually owned and operated, with legal and fiscal responsibility for assets and responsibilities.
|Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Able to be owned and operated by an individual or in partnership; more limited personal liability than a sole proprietorship.
Collectively owned by the members; typically with a board of directors that provide guidance and administration. Profits and earnings can be distributed and/or reinvested by the members.
Independent legal entity with shareholders, with the corporation responsible/liable for the assets and debts. Typically larger, with many employees.
Single business with two or more persons/entities sharing ownership. Shared contributions, and shared profits and losses.
Similar to a corporation with shareholders, but with the entities taxation on profits and losses passed through to the shareholders. Federal and Washington State administration of S Corporations differ slightly.
Differences between corporate structure, business licensing, and paying taxes
A business operating in Washington State must typically file a corporate structure for their busienss entity, apply and obtain a business license from the state and city, and register with the Washington Department of Revenue and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. These required filings may be done in succession, and provide the business and its owners with the documentation needed to pass through each step.
Corporate structure filing is performed to declare the function and execution of liability, tax status, and structure of the entity. Business licensing is performed to ensure the business is legally operating in the state and/or city, and to provide the business with a Unified Business Identifier (UBI). A Business License allows the business to:
- Apply for a Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number or tax registration number.
- Open or reopen a business.
- Change ownership of a business.
- Open a new business location.
- Change business locations.
- Register or change a trade name.
- Hire employees.
- Get a Minor Work Permit.
- Add licenses to an existing business location.
- Get optional insurance coverage for the business owner.
- Hire people to work in or around your home.
Once a business has received their UBI, they are able to register to pay applicable taxes in Washington State and register with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
Profit and Non-Profit corporate filings in Washington State
You may file your corporation or partnership in Washington State by visiting the Secretary of State website. Sole proprietors and certain partnerships are not required to register with the State, but can and should file a trade name with the Washington Business Licensing Service if doing business in a name other than the individuals own legal name. Further, most businesses will still need to register for a state and local business license regardless of their corporate structure.
Your business plan should outline the financial needs of your business, and include an assumption of how much capital is required in order to get started. Use your business plan and personal finances to determine how much you can contribute to starting a new business, and then identify other sources of loans or financing. In general, business owners must contribute between 25% and 35% of the funding necessary to start their business, and to obtain additional financing, lending institutions are looking for:
- strong business planning
- collateral in the form of valued assets, property, and inventory
- demonstrated business knowledge
Banks and Credit Unions
Community banks and credit unions offer business loans, but typically will only lend to individuals or businesses that have established multiple funding sources and have a clearly outlined path to repayment. A unique facet of banking in the Walla Walla Valley is that our credit unions are community based, and you do not need to work for or be a part of another organization to become a member of the credit union. Whether you decide to seek financing from a bank or a credit union, compare the requirements, interest rates, and penalties of each organization to determine what will work best for your unique business.
Click here for a directory of both Banks and Credit Unions from the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce
D. Local Resources
Business Impact Northwest - Entrepreneurship counseling, with resources in coaching, training, and financial assistance.
Department of Commerce Business Service - State of Washington Department of Commerce offers advisary services and grants/loans for small businesses in the State of Washington.
Emberfuel - Emberfuel, is a series of business events that assist entrepreneurs, seasoned professionals, and growing businesses access resources to launch new businesses, creations, and ideas.
Port of Walla Walla - Regional economic development organization for the Walla Walla Valley.
SCORE - Mid-Columbia Tri-Cities - Tri-Cities branch of SCORE; mentorship and counseling to small businesses
Small Business Administration (National) - National tips, education, and loan/financing information for businesses
Small Business Administration (Washington State) - State tips, education, and loan/financing information for businesses.
Small Business Development Corporation - Washington State Chapter - National and statewide resources for small business development
Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce - Chamber of commerce resources, training, and presentations
Washington Center for Women in Business - Business counseling, technical assistance, and training
Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center - The Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) program is designed to help the Washington State Business community in all areas of selling to local, state, federal agencies, and government prime contractors. If a company has questions in any area of selling to the government we will work with them to get answers.