Starting a Business in Idaho – A Comprehensive Guide

How to Start a Business in Idaho

Venturing into Idaho’s business arena brings exciting prospects and potential hurdles. Consequently, having a solid business idea is crucial. This guide has been designed to offer valuable knowledge and tools for budding entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals aiming to stake their claim in Idaho’s vibrant business ecosystem.

City scape in Idaho for article on how to start a business in IdahoThis guide is as helpful for those launching their inaugural enterprise as it is for experienced professionals planning to broaden their business presence in Idaho. Whether laying the groundwork for a new start-up or charting a path for business growth, this guide will help you grasp the intricacies of conducting business in Idaho.

Top Two Advantages of Starting a Business in Idaho:

  1. Idaho’s geographical location and robust transportation system provide an excellent reach to domestic and international markets.
  2. Idaho’s business-friendly government policies and well-developed legal structure make it an attractive locale for start-ups and established firms.

Top Two Challenges of Starting a Business in Idaho:

  1. Given that Idaho has a dynamic and competitive market, nascent businesses might encounter tough competition from already thriving enterprises.
  2. The cost of living and operating a business in Idaho, particularly in major cities like Boise or Meridian, may be higher than in other regions.

As we continue, we will delve further into detailed analysis and specific particulars concerning Idaho’s business environment in the upcoming sections.

Regulatory Factors and Taxes in Idaho

Idaho upholds a judicious mix of regulations to safeguard public health, consumer rights, and the state’s environment while fostering a conducive atmosphere for prosperous businesses. The state plays a proactive role in ensuring that its regulations do not impede the growth and success of companies.

Understanding the state corporate income tax is essential for any business’s financial strategy. Idaho, for instance, imposes a 5.80 percent corporate income tax on net business income, which, compared to other states, is relatively competitive. Furthermore, Idaho also has a progressive personal income tax rate that ranges from 1 to 6 percent, depending on the income bracket.

In Idaho, the state sales tax rate is 6.00 percent, and there is a maximum local sales tax rate of 3.00 percent. The combined state and local sales tax rate is 6.02 percent on average. The 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index places Idaho’s tax system at 15th overall.

Despite the sales tax, Idaho’s competitive corporate tax rates and progressive personal income tax – which offers lower rates for lower-income brackets – can appeal to many businesses. These tax structures can help businesses maintain competitive pricing and healthy profit margins.

How do I Choose a Business Structure?

There are five primary types of businesses. Each type of business entity is described below.

Sole Proprietorship

A business owned and operated by one individual with no legal distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. Most small business owners in Idaho use this business type.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A flexible business organization that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. Owners of an LLC are called members, and their assets are typically protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. You have the flexibility to define many aspects of how your business will work in your Articles of Organization.


A type of corporation allows for pass-through taxation, meaning that profits and losses are passed through to the shareholders and reported on their tax returns. S-Corporations are limited to 100 shareholders and must meet specific eligibility requirements. An S-Corp can be particularly advantageous if the founders or investors have other income. If the business doesn’t generate a profit in any year, the shareholders can use the losses from a tax perspective.


A separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) means that the corporation can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued. C-Corporations are subject to double taxation, meaning that the corporation and the shareholders are taxed on profits.

A Note About S-Corps and C-Corps

For both S-Corporations and C-Corporations, your business formation documents will include Articles of Incorporation, sometimes called a Corporate Charter. The specific requirements and format of Articles of Incorporation can vary by jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with a business attorney or online legal service such as Legal Zoom to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations when drafting and filing these documents.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership that limits the personal liability of its partners. LLPs are typically used by professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, and architects. Each partner is protected from the other partners’ wrongful acts, omissions, and negligence, but they may still be personally liable for their actions.

Distribution of Businesses

Business Type Percent of Businesses in Idaho
Sole Proprietorship 40-45%
Limited Liability Company (LLC) 25-30%
S-Corporation 12%
C-Corporation 10%
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) 3%

Remember that the percentages can fluctuate yearly and are influenced by the industry and geographic location. It’s important to note that the data may encompass businesses registered outside of Idaho but still operating within the state.

What is an Employer Identification Number – EIN?

Definition of an EIN or Employer Identification Number

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses within the United States. This number plays a vital role in managing business tax responsibilities and is also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) or the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).

Do I Need One to Start a Business in Idaho?

In Idaho, an EIN is required if you intend to start a corporation or partnership, hire employees, apply for a business license, or set up a business bank account. This number facilitates the streamlined handling of your business’s tax obligations.

How Do I Get One?

Securing an EIN is straightforward. You can apply for one directly via the IRS website or submit Form SS-4 to the IRS via mail or fax. However, the quickest route to acquire your EIN is by applying online, which provides you with the number immediately upon completion of the application. For additional assistance or information, you can reach out to the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 (for businesses) or visit their website at

How to Start a Business in Idaho – Important Registrations

Registering My Business Name

You must register your business name in Idaho with the Secretary of State. Contact them at (208) 334-2300 or visit their website:

Registering a DBA (Doing Business As) If Relevant

If your business goes by a name that is not legal, you must register a fictitious name, also known as a DBA. This can be done through the Secretary of State in Idaho. Idaho has 44 counties, each with its local government services and regulations.

You can find a complete directory of Idaho’s local governments on this website: This directory provides contact information for each county, which can benefit businesses needing to comprehend local regulations or requirements.

Registering for Payroll, State Payroll Taxes, and Unemployment Insurance

Insurance To register for state payroll taxes and unemployment insurance in Idaho, you must establish an account with the Idaho State Tax Commission. Visit their website at, email them at, or contact them at 208-334-7660.

Registering for Worker’s Compensation Insurance

In Idaho, businesses should contact a licensed provider to set up workers’ compensation insurance. If you use a payroll service, they should also be able to provide worker’s comp.

Registering for Collecting Sales Tax

If you run a business in Idaho, it is mandatory to register to collect sales tax. You can quickly complete this process by visiting the Idaho State Tax Commission website at

Registering for Income Tax

Businesses operating in Idaho should register for corporate state tax through the Idaho State Tax Commission. You can contact them at 208-334-7660 or visit their website

Registering to Pay Property Tax

For property tax registration in Idaho, you must contact the local county tax assessor’s office. More information can be found on the Idaho State Tax Commission’s website:

Permits for Starting a Business in Idaho

Do I Need a Business Permit to Operate a Business in Idaho?

At the State Level: Some sectors in Idaho mandate state-level permits or licenses to function. You can refer to the Idaho Department of Occupational Licenses website to obtain this information. Visit to check if your business needs state permits or licenses.

Check With Your City: It’s advisable to contact your local city government or business licensing office to determine if city-specific licenses are required for your business. Each city might have distinct requirements based on local laws.

Check With Your Country: To run your business within your country, you must comply with specific regulations and obtain the necessary permits. You can obtain this information by contacting the clerk’s office in your county.

Check With Your County: To operate your business within the confines of your county, you must comply with the necessary regulations and obtain the required permits. The clerk’s office in your county is the go-to source for acquiring this crucial information.

Idaho has 44 counties. You can contact your local county office for more specifics about local regulations and business permit requirements. Visit:

The requirements can significantly differ depending on the type and location of your business. Consulting with the relevant authorities is always recommended before inaugurating your business.

How do I learn about any special permits I need for my business?

When setting up a business in Idaho, you must know of any special permits or licenses required for your industry. These requirements vary greatly based on location, size, and business type. Thus, comprehensive research is necessary to ensure you abide by all rules, avoid legal issues, and steer clear of potential fines.

Numerous resources exist to supply this information. The Idaho Department of Occupational Licenses is a primary resource that supports businesses with licensing and permit needs. Visit their website to understand specific regulations or schedule a meeting with their team for more guidance.

Local chambers of commerce or small business development centers can aid business owners in understanding and managing regulatory compliance. These organizations are experts in helping small business owners navigate complex rules.

Financing Options for Entrepreneurs in Idaho

Understanding the financing environment is crucial for entrepreneurs looking to start or expand a business in Idaho. It’s important to think beyond personal assets and credit cards when exploring funding sources for your startup. Idaho offers a broad range of financing options, including both federal and local resources.

Financing a New Business

Determining the appropriate funding option for your new business might seem overwhelming, but it is key to your business’s progression and sustainability. Various alternatives are available, such as loans, grants, and investments from venture capitalists or angel investors. Comprehensive research and careful planning are essential in identifying the financial resources that best suit your business goals.

SBA Loans and Microloans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides several loan programs to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in growing their businesses, including microloans. Microloans are typically small, short-term loans that offer quick access to funding for small businesses.


In Idaho, organizations like the Business Development Corporation of Idaho (BDC) and The Idaho Women’s Business Center act as intermediaries for SBA microloans, delivering crucial capital to eligible businesses. They also offer business mentoring and training services to support new ventures.

SBA Microlenders in Idaho

Business Development Corporation of Idaho (BDC)

250 S. 5th Street, Suite 800 Boise, ID, 83702

Phone: (208)-342-5522


The Idaho Women’s Business Center

1655 W Fairview Ave #104 Boise, ID 83702

Phone: (208)-996-1573



Jannus, Inc

Jesse Allen

1607 W. Jefferson Street Boise, ID 83702

Phone: (208)-336-5533


State and Local Grants and Incentives

The Idaho Department of Commerce provides a variety of grants and incentives to promote business activity within the state. Noteworthy programs include

The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) Grant: Assisting businesses in commercializing innovative technology.

The Business Expansion Incentive Program: Providing grants for expanding businesses that contribute to the local economy and create jobs.

Angel Investor Groups

Startups often depend on venture capitalists and angel investors for vital funding. In exchange for equity shares or convertible debt, these investors provide a crucial source of capital. Idaho is home to several investment groups, such as the Boise Angel Alliance and Idaho Capital Investment, which offer substantial funding opportunities and networking platforms for ambitious entrepreneurs.

Securing appropriate funding is a critical aspect of launching a successful business. Therefore, examining all available financing options is essential in determining the best fit for your business venture.

Benefits of a Well-Structured Business Plan

Creating a well-structured business plan is important in launching and managing a successful business venture in Idaho. It is a roadmap guiding your business from startup to growth and expansion.

One notable benefit of a business plan is its clarity and direction. Entrepreneurs can define their business objectives and strategies to accomplish them with a business plan. In addition, it outlines your business model, marketing approach, financial projections, and operational structure, offering guidance for your business’s path.

Another key advantage of a business plan is that it helps secure funding. In Idaho, banks and other financial institutions often require a comprehensive business plan before providing financing. A solid business plan showcases the potential profitability of your business. It demonstrates that you have a viable concept, a defined market, and a strategy to achieve your financial targets.

A well-structured business plan also assists in identifying potential challenges. Every business faces risks, and a business plan enables you to evaluate these potential pitfalls, market hurdles, and competitive pressures. Developing strategies to manage these risks can enhance your business’s resilience and adaptability in Idaho’s dynamic business environment.

Moreover, a business plan enables you to monitor your business performance. By establishing clear goals, timelines, and benchmarks, a business plan provides a standard for measuring your business’s performance. Comparing your actual results with your planned objectives regularly can help you identify areas where your business is excelling or needs improvement.

Meeting Lender and Investor Expectations

Engaging with lenders and investors is essential to business growth and expansion in Idaho. These stakeholders have specific expectations that businesses should strive to meet to foster trust and secure financial support.

Transparency and clear communication are vital in meeting lender and investor expectations. Lenders and investors must understand your business model, growth strategy, and risk management plan. They must also be informed about your revenue streams, cost structure, profitability, and cash flow situation. Regularly providing accurate and comprehensive financial reports will help build confidence and demonstrate that you value their involvement.

Lenders and investors also expect sound management and good governance. They want to be assured that the business they invest in or lend to is in competent hands. The management team should have relevant experience, industry knowledge, and strategic vision. A business’s commitment to ethical practices, regulatory compliance, and corporate governance also forms part of good management and governance.

Sustainable growth is another expectation of lenders and investors. They want to see a realistic yet ambitious growth plan. This plan should demonstrate that your business can generate consistent profits over the long term and provide a return on its investment. Therefore, your growth strategy should reflect a deep understanding of your market, competitive landscape, and customer needs.

Lastly, risk management is crucial in meeting lender and investor expectations. Every business has risks, and lenders and investors want to know that you have identified and developed mitigation strategies. This shows you have a proactive approach to managing potential challenges and preserving your business’s viability and profitability.

Where Can I Find a Mentor to Help Me Succeed?

Navigating the entrepreneurship journey in Idaho can be more manageable and rewarding with the right guidance. It’s where the importance of mentors, local business groups, and experienced professionals, such as lawyers, comes in. They can offer invaluable advice and support to help nurture your business growth and pave the way toward success in the Gem State.

Idaho has numerous resources and organizations dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs. Here are a few significant ones:

  1. Idaho SCORE: As a part of the nationwide SCORE, a nonprofit and resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Idaho SCORE provides easy-to-access mentorship, budget-friendly workshops and various business tools to aid entrepreneurs.
    Contact Info:
    Phone: (208) 509-5301

  2. Idaho Small Business Development Center (SBDC): The Idaho SBDC, linked with Boise State University, is a nationally recognized member of America’s SBDC Network. It offers various services, including business plan development, financial analysis, and marketing strategy advice. Contact Info:
    Phone: (208) 426-3875

  3. Commerce Idaho: As the state’s official economic development organization, Commerce Idaho offers services such as business growth support, retention, and entrepreneurial guidance.
    Contact Info:
    Phone: (208) 334-2470

These resources can equip entrepreneurs with the necessary direction and connections to start and grow their businesses in Idaho.

The Economy of Idaho

For entrepreneurs planning to start a business in Idaho, it’s essential to understand the state’s economic landscape. Knowing about economic trends, consumer behavior, and potential growth opportunities can significantly influence your business’s success. A robust economy typically creates a favorable environment for new businesses to flourish.

Economic Overview

Average Household Income

The median household income in Idaho is $63,377, and Idaho’s diverse population and stable economy present a broad business customer base.

Average Level of Education

Regarding education, a significant portion of Idaho’s population aged 25 and over (around 91%) has completed high school. Approximately 25% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This indicates a well-educated workforce, which is advantageous for businesses needing skilled labor.

Consumer Spending per Capita

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) in Idaho amount to approximately $75,541, indicating a healthy level of consumer spending. This suggests a strong market for a wide array of goods and services. The steady growth of PCE reflects a growing demand, presenting promising opportunities for increased business revenue.

The more familiar you are with Idaho’s economic environment, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions and strategies for your business.

Top Industries in Idaho:

Traditional and emerging industries shape Idaho’s economic landscape. However, agriculture, long a cornerstone of the state’s economy, continues to play a crucial role. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2021, Idaho produced over 13 billion pounds of potatoes, reinforcing the state’s reputation as the nation’s leading potato producer. Moreover, the dairy industry in Idaho contributed to over a third of the state’s total agricultural receipts, making it an essential part of Idaho’s economy.

Manufacturing is another sector that significantly contributes to Idaho’s GDP. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturers in Idaho accounted for 14.68% of the total output in the state, employing over 8% of the workforce. Notably, Micron Technology, a global semiconductor leader, is headquartered in Boise, reflecting the state’s strength in advanced manufacturing.

The technology sector in Idaho is increasing, especially in Boise. As per the Idaho Department of Labor, tech jobs in the state grew by 6.3%, nearly double the national average of 3.2%. This growth in tech jobs highlights the increasing significance of this sector in Idaho’s economy.

In the healthcare sector, Idaho has experienced a surge in growth. Based on a 2021 report from the Idaho Department of Labor, healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state, with employment in this sector expected to grow by 18% between 2018 and 2028.

Looking forward, renewable energy presents exciting opportunities for Idaho. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that in 2020, nearly 80% of Idaho’s in-state electricity generation came from renewable resources, primarily hydroelectric power. The state also has a considerable amount of untapped wind and solar potential, promising a bright future for the clean energy industry in Idaho. This broad range of thriving sectors provides a strong foundation for entrepreneurs considering starting a business in Idaho.

Thinking Broadly About Your Business in Idaho

  1. Identify Complementary Businesses: In Idaho’s thriving entrepreneurial landscape, seeking complementary businesses can provide unique opportunities for growth and collaboration. For instance, a new tech startup might find value in partnering with established software companies for product development or marketing. Similarly, a new restaurant could collaborate with local farms for fresh produce supply. These mutually beneficial relationships can lead to shared customers, cost savings and potentially create innovative solutions that serve the local market effectively.
  2. Leverage Workforce Talent: A diverse and talented workforce supports Idaho’s economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2022, Idaho has an educated labor force of over 800,000. Tapping into this talent pool can give businesses the skills and expertise they need to succeed. Whether hiring skilled tech professionals in Boise or engaging with agricultural experts in rural areas, Idaho’s workforce offers a wealth of talent to drive business growth. Moreover, local universities and colleges, like Boise State University and the University of Idaho, provide resources for recruiting young, educated individuals ready to contribute to the state’s evolving business landscape.
  3. Collaborate with Industry Leaders: Building relationships with industry leaders can offer new businesses valuable insights and open doors to strategic partnerships. Networking events, industry conferences, and local business associations provide excellent platforms to connect with these influencers. In Idaho, organizations such as the Idaho Technology Council, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, and the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance can offer opportunities to engage with leaders across various sectors. By fostering these relationships, businesses can access industry trends, partnership opportunities, and potential mentorships, contributing to their success and growth.

Workforce and Talent

Scenic picture of idahoTo shape your business strategies in Idaho, having a detailed understanding of the state’s labor pool and skill sets can be very valuable. Such insights can inform your hiring and recruiting plans and help you build a strong team.

Unemployment Rate

Idaho’s diverse economy spans agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and technology. As per recent data, the unemployment rate in Idaho is around 2.6%, one of the lowest in the U.S. This low rate speaks to the state’s healthy job market and indicates the level of labor force participation.

Minimum Wage

Idaho’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, equal to the federal minimum wage. Businesses should consider this when budgeting for staff salaries and operational costs.

Average Age and Demographics

The median age in Idaho is about 36.6 years, suggesting a relatively young workforce compared to the national average. In addition, the state’s population has a balanced gender distribution, with approximately 49.9% male and 50.1% female. Understanding these demographics is crucial for businesses to tailor their products or services to cater to different demographic groups’ needs and preferences.

Breakdown of People with Various Levels of Education

Looking at Idaho residents aged 25 and older, their education levels can be broken down as follows:

  1. 25% hold a bachelor’s degree.
  2. 91% have a high school diploma.
  3. 7% have no high school diploma.

These statistics can provide valuable information when looking for employees with specific skill sets or educational backgrounds. Having a grasp on this data can help you make informed hiring decisions, allowing your business to thrive in the Idaho market.

Top Areas of Skilled Workers for Residents of Idaho

Skilled labor in Idaho spans various sectors, which have developed due to the state’s dynamic economy. As the economic landscape diversifies, so do the opportunities for skilled workers in different areas.

In agriculture, one of the primary sectors in Idaho, skilled farm and ranch workers are in high demand. These professionals must understand sophisticated farming techniques, operate advanced machinery, and implement sustainable practices to improve crop yields and livestock management. Job opportunities also extend beyond the fields, with roles in agricultural science, agronomy, and agricultural business management being key to this sector’s success.

Idaho’s thriving manufacturing industry also presents many opportunities for skilled workers. Whether in food processing, machinery manufacturing, or electronic component production, individuals with technical skills in machine operation, quality assurance, process management, and industrial maintenance are sought after. Furthermore, the rise in advanced manufacturing has increased the demand for workers proficient in robotics and automation technologies.

Like many parts of the U.S., the healthcare sector in Idaho offers a wide range of opportunities for skilled workers. Beyond doctors and nurses, there is a significant demand for healthcare professionals such as medical technicians, pharmacists, therapists, and healthcare administrators. This sector also requires professionals in emerging fields like telehealth services and health informatics.

The booming technology sector in Idaho provides opportunities for individuals with expertise in software development, cybersecurity, data analytics, and network administration. Tech companies are constantly looking for skilled professionals capable of driving innovation and maintaining the competitive edge of Idaho’s technology sector.

In conclusion, Idaho’s diverse economy provides many opportunities for skilled workers across multiple sectors. Whether in traditional industries like agriculture and manufacturing or emerging ones such as technology and healthcare, skilled professionals can find rewarding careers in Idaho. These opportunities benefit the individuals and contribute to the growth and sustainability of the Idaho economy.

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