Become an Entrepreneur

Great Falls is a GREAT place to be an entrepreneur. Besides the low cost of doing business, Great Falls offers a city ripe with opportunity and a community hungry for new and innovative businesses.

Our team at Great Falls Development Authority can take you from inspiration to inception, offering free one-on-one business coaching, small business loans, government contracting assistance, project advocacy, and anything else you might need to start a successful business.

Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Choose Your Business Idea

The first step toward becoming an entrepreneur is deciding what kind of venture to start. Successful entrepreneurs aim to solve problems or provide products and services to paying customers in under-served markets. Think of ideas that align with your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities.

Being an entrepreneur is about identifying a problem, and providing a creative solution, OR, seeing an opportunity, and capitalizing on it.

We have identified opportunities in the following areas: Downtown Development, Missouri River Corridor Development, IT/Digital Economy.

Step 2: The Business Plan

Successful entrepreneurs plan carefully. A significant amount of resources (time, money, or both) will be put into your business. Be sure to critically analyze your business. Start with the following questions:

  1. What problem does your business solve, or need does your business address? What sets you apart from the competition?
  2. Who is your target audience? Where can they be found, how will you get their attention, and you will you convert them into paying customers?
  3. Will you need to hire employees? What other professionals do you need to seek out to ensure success?
  4. What is your break even? How much money will it take to operate the business day-to-day, and where will you get the funding to fill any gaps?

Our Small Business Development Center offers FREE one-on-one business coaching!

Working with one of our accredited Business Advisors, you can harness the power of technology and use LivePlan – an intuitive, cloud-based business planning tool!

Step 3: Register Your Business

Not only does registering your business add credibility, it can also protect your personal liability in the event your business is sued.

There are multiple structures to choose from. Compare structures below. And most importantly, always consult a trusted advisor (attorney, accountant, business consultant) if possible. 

Business Structure

Sole Proprietorship

Ownership

One Person

Liability

Unlimited personal liability

Taxes

Personal tax only

Business Structure

Partnerships

Ownership

Two or more people

Liability

Unlimited personal liability unless structured as a limited partnership

Taxes

Self-employment tax (except for limited partners)

Personal tax

Business Structure

Limited Liability Company(LLC)

Ownership

One or more people

Liability

Owners are not personally liable

Taxes

Self-employment tax

Personal tax or corporate tax

Business Structure

Corporation – C corp

Ownership

One or more people

Liability

Owners are not personally liable

Taxes

Corporate tax

Business Structure

Corporation – S corp

Ownership

One or more people, but no more than 100, and all must be U.S. citizens

Liability

Owners are not personally liable

Taxes

Personal tax

Business Structure

Corporation – B corp

Ownership

One or more people

Liability

Owners are not personally liable

Taxes

Corporate tax

To register your business, visit the Montana Secretary of State.

Step 4: EIN & 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.

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

  1. If you hire employees, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
  2. No need to wory about sales tax. Montana is one of five states that does not impose a sales tax!

Register for Montana State Taxes

Step 5: Permits & 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.

The State of Montana offers a great Small Business Licensing Resource guide on their website – we recommend starting there. 

Still have questions? Give us a call to chat with one of our accredited business advisors. 406.750.4481

Step 6: Get Insurance

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

General liability insurance is a broad insurance policy that protects any business or professional from a multitude of risks. It is also known as commercial general liability (CGL) insurance. Almost every business has a need for CGL insurance, as damages from legal claims could potentially cost you your entire business.

General liability insurance is sometimes obtained within a business owner’s policy (BOP), but it can also be purchased as a standalone policy.

Workers’ compensation insurance, also known as workman’s comp, is a type of policy that’s designed to cover an employee’s medical expenses and other losses in the event of a work-related injury. Some businesses are required by law to carry a workers’ comp policy.

Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions coverage (E&O), is for small and large businesses that offer expert advice or services. E&O protects against claims of inaccurate, negligent, or undelivered work. Lawsuits from claims of unsatisfactory work can result in exorbitant legal fees and put your business at great risk. Whether or not these claims can be proven, E&O will help cover the costs associated with these disputes.

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 Montana, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

Step 7: Banking & Credit Cards

Keep Business and Personal Funds SEPARATE

Mixing business and personal accounts makes your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) vulnerable in the event your business is sued. 

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Open a bank account solely for business transactions:

  • This will ensure your company’s assets remain seperate from your personal assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • This will also make accounting and tax filing easier come end-of-year.

2. Get a business credit card:

  • Helps to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses.
  • If used wisely, can help to build credit for the business, which can be useful in acquiring capital later on.

Step 8: 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.


As a sponsor of the National Association of Small Business Development Center’s Intuit’s QuickBooks offers excellent functionality for small businesses at a reasonable cost. To try QuickBooks free for 30 days, click here.

Step 9: Establish a Digital Presence

With the world-wide web at our fingertips, you can’t afford to NOT have a digital presence. There are multiple things to consider when establishing your digital presence. Keep in mind how your business operates, and who your target audience is. 

We recommend:

1. Claim Your Google Business Listing

Google is the most frequently used search engine in the world, and odds are, if someone wants to find you, they will start with Google. You can claim your Google listing yourself, or to expedite the process, reach out to one of our accredited Business Advisors.

2. Create a Website

A website is a powerful business tool. When done right, a website can help capture users’ attention and convert them into paying customers.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do I have web design skills? Some platforms require more coding than others.
  2. Will I require e-commerce? Not all platforms have this capability, and some platforms charge an extra fee.
  3. How much am I willing to spend? Prices differ greatly depending on your needs, or if you consult with a professional design firm.

3. Social Media

Social media is a must. The platforms you put your energy into depend on your target audience, but there are three that every business should put energy into: Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp.

Remember to start small, and stay engaged. Read our article on Online Reputation Management.

Not sure which social media platforms are right for your business? Check out our free guide detailing each of the major platforms.