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How to start a business in Colorado in 7 steps

how to start a business in colorado

With the second-highest economy in the United States and one of the lowest business income tax levels, Colorado is an exciting and profitable place to start a business. The process, however, can still feel like a daunting undertaking. That’s where we come in.

We’ve put together this step-by-step blog to guide you through the process of starting a business in Colorado.

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Start a business in Colorado in 7 steps

01. Come up with your business idea

When starting a business, your idea is the foundation on which everything else is built. So, if it’s not solid, it won’t hold up. Make sure you do your due diligence and research current trends, as well as holes in the market locally, nationally and globally when coming up with the right business idea. Once you’ve identified these gaps, focus your business on filling them.

It’s a good idea to take your time on this step, as deciding what you plan to sell or offer as a service will determine the long-term viability and profitability of your business. Don't be afraid to get started with what you know, or what you think the market is missing - including unique business ideas.

I was making my own hand sanitizer and thought ‘why don’t they have sanitizers that kill fungus? There are always breakouts in boxing gyms due to common skin infections like ringworms. Tea tree soap is anti-fungal, so I started adding it to my hand sanitizers, which eventually evolved into my sweat butters. Raquel “Rocky” Harris, Founder + Owner of Warm Up.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 10 business category ideas that have Colorado written all over them:

  • Retail store catering to outdoor adventurers: Colorado is filled with thrill-seeking nature lovers. Give the people what they want with a store dedicated to selling and/or renting outdoor gear and apparel. Consider these outdoor business ideas for inspiration.

  • Cannabis cultivation and dispensary: As marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in Colorado, this is an exciting and growing industry across the state.

  • Brewpub or microbrewery: Colorado is known for its craft beer industry—but even more so for its craft beer lovers. If the idea of owning your own brewery gives you a buzz, this might be the business for you and it also works well as a small town business idea.

  • Health and wellness retreat center: Take advantage of Colorado's natural beauty and emphasis on healthy living by creating an oasis that locals and tourists can visit for some self-care. Check out our guide for more tips on how to start a beauty business.

  • Food truck or mobile catering service: Colorado is a top destination for weddings, family reunions and business conferences. Dish out unique, locally-sourced cuisine and become a staple at events around your city.

  • Home cleaning and organization service: Colorado’s growing population, combined with its high employment rate (in fact, Colorado boasts one of the highest employment rates in the country), translates to lots of busy professionals who may need your help keeping their homes and offices in order.

  • Online tutoring and education: As many students in Colorado will be using online learning in the future either full-time or to supplement their in-person education, this is a great industry to tap into and a solid business idea for teachers. Consider starting a tutoring business (and learning how to write a tutoring business plan).

  • Pet grooming and daycare services: Nearly one in five Americans adopted a pet during the pandemic. Now, as many workplaces are requiring increased in-person hours at the office, the pet care industry is thriving. Tap into this booming industry and get furry snuggles while you do it. These ideas also make for great part-time business ideas.

  • eCommerce: Become an eCommerce entrepreneur and start making money in the comfort of your mountain home by selling online via an online store or marketplace like Amazon.

  • Electric bike rental and tours: Colorado is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and cyclers. If sharing your love of the outdoors excites you and the thought of sitting at a desk all day really grinds your gears, this could be a great industry for you. Explore these other rental business ideas.

how to start a business in colorado - business idea

02. Choose your business model

There are several types of businesses that can be established in Colorado. The best model for you depends on factors, such as the type of business you’re starting and your business goals. You’ll also want to consider legal and tax implications to make sure you don’t get stuck with any unexpected surprises. Here are some business model examples to help you choose the perfect fit.

  • Franchise business model: Franchising gives you the option to start a business without having to build everything from scratch. Franchisors will provide you with a proven business model, training and support, which can help you get up and running faster.

  • Online business model: With the growth of eCommerce, starting an online business can be a great way to reach customers in Colorado and beyond. This can include selling products online, offering online services or creating digital products.

  • Service-based business model: Colorado is home to many busy professionals, students and retirees, so starting a service-based business could be a great option. This can include professional services like consulting or coaching, personal services like hair salon (see how to create a hair salon business plan) or cleaning, plumbing business and home-based services like dog walking or childcare.

  • Home-based business model: Starting a home-based business is often less expensive and can provide a flexible schedule. Examples of home-based businesses include online tutoring, consulting or pet-sitting.

  • Social enterprise business model: This model focuses on solving a social or environmental problem while also generating income. Examples include a sustainable fashion brand or a nonprofit that runs a for-profit business to fund its mission.

  • Cooperative business model: Cooperatives are businesses that are owned and controlled by the people who use its services or goods. This model can be particularly effective in rural areas where there may be a lack of access to goods and services.

  • Subscription-based business model: Subscription-based businesses are becoming more popular, as they provide a predictable revenue stream and can help you build a loyal customer base. Examples include meal delivery services, streaming services and software-as-a-service.

start a business in colorado - type of business

03. Pick the best name for your Colorado-based business

Choosing the right business name is an important decision that has a significant impact on the success of your venture. You’ll want to make sure your name is original, reflects your vision and communicates your values.

It’s also important to do your research to ensure any potential name ideas are available and don’t infringe on existing trademarks or copyrights. You can check the availability of a business name by searching the Secretary of State's business name database. Here are some Colorado-specific names to get you started.

  • Rocky Mountain High

  • Colorado Peak Performance

  • The Centennial State

  • Aspen Adventures

  • The Mile High City

  • Denver Delights

  • Durango Dreamers

  • Boulder Bliss

  • Colorado Crafts

  • Pikes Peak Provisions

Feeling inspired? You can generate dozens more unique business name ideas using Wix’s free business name generator.

start a business in colorado - business name generator

Once you've landed on a name, apply for a trademark and immediately claim all relevant accounts—including those for your domain, business email and social media—so that no one else beats you to it and forces you to start from scratch.

04. Write your business plan

A business plan is an essential part of starting a business in any state. This plan will form the foundation of your business entity and outline its path to profitability. It should include an executive summary, capital commitment, funding plans, operating expenses, management and hiring protocol as well as marketing and advertising strategies. If this feels overwhelming, take a deep breath of that fresh Colorado air and just focus on one section at a time.

how to start a business in colorado - business plan

05. License and register your business in Colorado

You’ve done all of the groundwork, now it’s time to sign some papers and make it official. Follow our 4-step guide for understanding how to get your business licensed and registered:

Register with the Colorado Secretary of State: You can register your business with the Secretary of State on their website or by mail. The exact registration process depends on the legal structure you choose for your business. For example, if you're looking to start an LLC, consider starting an LLC in Colorado it with Legal Zoom.

Register for taxes: You may be required to collect and remit sales tax, use tax, withholding tax, corporate tax, unemployment insurance tax and/or other taxes—depending on the nature of your business. Determine which taxes you are required to collect at both the federal and state levels, then obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online from the IRS. You may additionally need to register for a sales tax license with the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR).

Obtain any necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your business type, you may need to get specific licenses and permits from the state, county and/or city. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) issues certain types of licenses, while others are issued by local city and county offices.

It’s important to note that the above requirements can change. Make sure to check with the appropriate state and local agencies for specific requirements in your area.

how to register a business in colorado

06. Fund your business in Colorado

Next on the agenda is deciding how to fund your Colorado-based business. Start by researching available loan, grant and investment opportunities that can provide capital to get your business off the ground. Additionally, consider leveraging methods like crowdfunding or angel investors to raise money for your business.

Colorado has ample government programs and resources to help fund your business and to help you learn how to get a business loan and which type. Here’s a list to get you started:

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans: The SBA provides various loan programs, including the 7(a) loan program, which can help your small business with financing for working capital, equipment and real estate.

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT): OEDIT offers various funding programs for businesses, including the Advanced Industry Accelerator Grant Program, which provides funding to companies working in advanced industries such as aerospace, bioscience and renewable energy.

Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC): The Colorado SBDC provides counseling and training to small business owners and can help you access funding through SBA loans and other programs.

Angel investors and venture capitalists: Colorado is home to a growing number of angel investors and venture capital firms that invest in early-stage companies.

Crowdfunding: Many Colorado-based businesses have found success raising funds through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe.

Note that each program has different criteria, requirements and application processes. Check with the appropriate state and local agencies for specific requirements in your area and to understand what might be the best fit for your business.

07. Create your business website

A business website is a great way to get your business online to promote and sell your product or service. When you create an eCommerce website, it can help increase your credibility and reach a larger audience. It can also allow you to track your success and pinpoint areas for growth.

make a business in colorado - business website

Business examples in Colorado

Here are some examples of Colorado-based business websites built on Wix.

The Eldo Brewery

The Eldo is the only locally owned and operated craft brewery and music venue in historic downtown Crested Butte, Colorado. With a packed events calendar and a menu featuring a selection of house beers, guest beers and mouth-watering Himalayan food—you’re sure to leave slaked and singing.

Chef at Your Steps

Chef Mario is a private chef, caterer and meal prep delivery service in Fort Collins, Colorado with over 10 years of experience. Having grown up in the area, Mario has a great understanding of local, seasonal products and enjoys foraging for ingredients from the land.

How to start a business in Colorado review

7 steps to starting a business in colorado

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How to start a business in Colorado FAQ

Is Colorado a good place to start a small business?

Colorado has a reputation for being supportive of entrepreneurs and small businesses. The state government has implemented policies to promote economic development and foster innovation. It offers various resources, incentives, and programs to help businesses succeed.

How much does it cost to start a business in Colorado?

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