How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Montana

Want to start a new business in the state of Montana? You’ve come to the right spot!

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Wide open spaces, sprawling mountains, and Yellowstone National Park are all part of the natural beauty Montana has to offer. Agriculture is a major employer in the state, with roughly two-thirds of the total land dedicated to farmland. Because of the land and national parks, tourism is the fastest-growing sector in the economy. While Montana’s housing costs and personal income taxes are relatively high, other living costs tend to be quite low, and the state has no sales tax. In fact, the Tax Foundation rated Montana as having one of the top ten tax climates for 2016. Another plus: the third shortest commute times of any state!

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Montana

  • Phone Numbers

    Voice: 406-444-2034 (Sec. of State)
  • Montana Business Incubators http://bozeman.com

  • Physical Address
    Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch State Capitol Building 1301 E. 6th Avenue Helena, MT 59601

  • Montana Tax Forms
    http://dor.mo.gov/forms/

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Fun facts about starting a business in Montana

Famous business founded in Montana Big Sky Brewing Company

Big Sky Brewing Company is a brewery founded and located in Missoula, Montana. It brews six different styles of beer. Big Sky Brewing Company is by far the largest brewery in Montana and has the farthest reach nationally of any brew made in Montana. Big Sky products are distributed in 23 states.

Famous businessperson born in Montana James D. Rogers

James D. Rogers was born in 1949 and is the President and CEO of Kampgrounds of America (KOA). He currently lives in Billings, Montana. Kampgrounds of America is the world’s largest system of privately held campgrounds with almost 500 locations across North America. Known as KOA and featuring a distinctive yellow and red logo, Kampgrounds of America has become part of American popular culture, and is still based in Billings, Montana.

On the KOA experience:

“…really all about making outdoor adventure easy. We provide something unique to the campground, we provide service.”

James D. Rogers
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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Montana?

We strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure.

Here are 5 helpful steps to determine what is the best legal structure for your business:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Montana.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid legal structure that provides the limited liability features of a corporation with the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.

Steps to starting an LLC in Montana:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with any publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — File Annual Reports.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Montana.

For help forming your LLC in Montana we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Montana Secretary of State website.

Other Montana resources for LLCs:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.
File your “Reservation of Business Name” here.
File your “Articles of Organization” here.

Montana Registered Agents: Run a search here to find a registered agent. Every Montana LLC must have an agent for service of process.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here. If your LLC has more than one member, you must get an EIN, even if you have no employees.
Montana Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business. A sole proprietorship has one owner who pays personal income tax on all profits from the business. With little government regulation, they are the simplest business to set up or take apart, making them popular among individual business owners or self contractors.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Montana:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an application for assumed business name with the Secretary of State.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Montana we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Montana Secretary of State website.

Other Montana resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name, or an assumed business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.
Assumed Business Name Filing: File your “Assumed Business Name” form here. It is mandatory, if your business name is different from your legal name.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here. If you hire employees, you will need an EIN.

Licenses: Search for what licenses may be required of your business here.

Montana Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here to fulfill your business tax requirements.

Partnership
A partnership is created from two or more people doing business together for profit and share ownership. There doesn’t have to be a written agreement to form the partnership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Montana:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed business name.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Montana we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Montana Secretary of State website.

Other Montana resources for Partnership:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership may use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.
Assumed Business Name Filing: File your “Assumed Business Name” form here. It is mandatory, if your business name is different from your legal name.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership here. Partnerships must have an EIN, whether you have employees or not.

Licenses: Search for what licenses may be required of your business here.

Montana Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here to fulfill your business tax requirements.

S Corporation
An S corporation (or S Corp) is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. The corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Montana:

  • Step 1 — Name your corporation.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Montana.

For help forming your S corporation in Montana we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Montana Secretary of State website.

Other Montana resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Reservation of Business Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Report” here.

Montana Registered Agents: Run a search here to find a registered agent. Every Montana corporation must have an agent for service of process.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.
IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Montana Department of Revenue: Register here to fulfill your business tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp for short), refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately. There is no limit to the number of shareholders a C corporation can have. It is the most common type of corporation in the U.S.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Montana:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Montana.

For help forming your C corporation in Montana we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Montana Secretary of State website.

Other Montana resources for C Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Reservation of Business Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Report” here.

Montana Registered Agents: Run a search here to find a registered agent. Every Montana corporation must have an agent for service of process.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

Montana Department of Revenue: Register here to fulfill your corporate tax requirements.

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Why choose Montana for my business?

  • 1

    Tax Foundation “2016 State Business Tax Climate Index”
    Montana is ranked #6. “The absence of a major tax is a common factor among many of the top ten states. Property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes are levied in every state, but there are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate income tax, the individual income tax, or the sales tax.”

  • 2

    Montana.gov Grants and Loans Directory
    Links to Montana grants and loans for businesses.

  • 3

    Montana Small Business Development Center Network
    “The SBDC Center is located at the Montana Department of Commerce in Helena and supports ten centers statewide, each hosted by economic development and higher education institutions. Each local SBDC offers the following services areas for start-ups, existing and expanding businesses:”

  • 4

    Montana Women’s Business Center
    “The Montana WBC is focused on providing confidential business counseling and training services to women entrepreneurs and is a critical resource to those who are economically or socially disadvantaged.”

  • 5

    Veteran Entrepreneurs
    “The VBOC Program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business.”

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