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The State of Wyoming is home to a vibrant business climate, despite being the least populated state in America. Business-friendly features of Wyoming include: no corporate, inventory, or personal income taxes; a variety of tax exemptions for business owners; low cost of energy; low operating costs; an educated workforce; and a high standard of living to attract potential employees. This guide will help you start a business in Wyoming, thereby taking advantage of these exciting incentives.
Start a business in Wyoming
1. Choose a business idea
The foundation of any workable business in Wyoming or elsewhere is selecting a solid business idea. Think about whether you want to sell a product, a service, or maybe both! You might decide to improve on an existing product or service, or come up with something totally new and innovative. Regardless of the route you take, consider the following before getting down to business:
- Who is your customer? Knowing what you’ll sell won’t be of much use to anyone if you don’t know who you’re selling to. This is called your target customer—a profile that will inform every aspect of your product or service development. To build this profile, analyze businesses and marketplaces where similar products or services are sold (like Amazon or Wayfair), and research industry trends. Will you sell B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (directly to consumers)? Online or through a traditional storefront?
- What is your projected profitability? A business will only survive to the extent it can turn a profit. Variables that might impact your Wyoming business’s profitability may include pricing, packaging, distribution, and bundling models. Will you offer subscription options? What’s your break-even point, or how much you have to sell to cover costs.
2. Name your business
Now that you’ve crafted a solid business idea, the next step is to select a great business name. Coming up with a memorable and meaningful name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. A good name effectively conveys your company’s mission and function, but simultaneously appeals to what’s important or attractive to your target customer. Consider the following guidelines when choosing a Wyoming business name:
- Be original. The name of your Wyoming business must be unique from any other business name already registered with the state. You can run a search of existing Wyoming businesses through the Secretary of State’s website.
- Include correct business identifiers. Some entity types in Wyoming have specific requirements for what must be included in the name. A Wyoming LLC, for example, must contain the term “Limited Liability Company” or its abbreviated form, “LLC.” Corporations may include the word “Incorporated,” or “Inc.,” but are not required to.
- Exclude certain terms. Your Wyoming business may be restricted from containing certain words, depending on whether proper approvals from state agencies have been obtained. For example, your Wyoming business may not contain the words “academy,” “college,” “university,” “institute,” “education,” or “educational” without approval from the Wyoming Department of Education. You can review Wyoming’s rules regarding business name restrictions in its state code.
- Reserve your name. To reserve a name for your Wyoming LLC, you must submit a Limited Liability Company Application for Reservation of Name to the Secretary of State’s office, and pay a $60 filing fee. To reserve the name of a corporation, you must submit a Profit Corporation Application for Reservation of Corporate Name, and also pay a $60 filing fee. Business name reservations in Wyoming, regardless of form, last for 120 days.
- Secure a domain name and social media handles. Potential customers should be able to easily find you online. When deciding on a business name, check to see if a relevant domain name (URL) is available, then reserve social media usernames that align with your business name, or DBA.
Adopt a DBA
If you want to operate your Wyoming business under a name other than that with which it is registered to the state, you must apply for a DBA (“doing business as”). DBAs are required to conform to all Wyoming business naming rules, and can be obtained by submitting an Application for Registration of Trade Name to the Secretary of State’s office along with a $100 filing fee.
3. Create a business plan
Every small business owner should write up a business plan. Although it’s not required by Wyoming law to have one, business plans are excellent guiding instruments for any entrepreneur. A good plan will meet your business’s overall goals and give potential investors or partners a sense of how you intend to run the company in the near and long term. It should also contain, at the minimum, the following:
- Executive summary and mission statement
- Detailed company description
- Market analysis
- Organizational structure
- Listing of products or services
- Customer segmentation report
- Marketing plan
- Logistics and operations plan
- Financial plan
You can craft your plan by using a free business plan template tailored to meet your needs, or review business plan examples for inspiration.
4. Choose a formal business structure
Next, you’re ready to formally establish your business in Wyoming. And the first box you’ll need to check on any registration form is one identifying your legal structure. There are four primary types of legal structure available to business owners in Wyoming: sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. Each offers different benefits for personal liability, ownership structure, taxation, and funding opportunities. Here’s how they compare:
- Sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships are owned and run by a single person. They are the default designation for any solo freelancer in the US. There’s no legal distinction between the proprietor and the business. Therefore, the sole proprietorship is taxed as a “pass-through” business entity. This means its earnings are taxed one time on the proprietor’s personal income tax returns. The proprietor is also personally liable for most of the business’s debts and legal damages. Sole proprietorships pay federal self-employment state taxes as well (15.3%). There are no fees or registration requirements to set up a sole proprietorship in Wyoming.
- General partnership. General partnerships are formed by two or more partners and are taxed similarly to sole proprietorships—as pass-through entities. Also like sole proprietorships, there’s no legal distinction between a general partner and his or her business.
- LLC. A limited liability company (LLC) is formed by one or more owners, known as “members.” Like partnerships and sole proprietorships, LLCs can elect to be taxed as pass-through entities. LLCs differ from sole proprietorships and partnerships in that the personal assets of owners are protected from creditors and litigants. This is because the LLC is considered a separate legal entity from its members. This added layer of personal liability protection makes LLCs a bit more complex and costly to set up.
- Corporation. A corporation is also a separate legal business entity from its ownership. This means owners’ personal assets are, like with LLCs, protected in case the company goes bankrupt or faces legal action. Corporations differ from LLCs in that they can issue stocks to shareholders in exchange for a stake in business ownership. Corporations are not subject to corporate taxation in Wyoming, though they must pay a 21% federal corporate tax. Because of this, so-called double taxation does not apply in Wyoming for corporations.
Obtaining a federal employer identification number (EIN)
Once you’ve decided on a structure for your Wyoming business entity, you can apply for a federal employer identification number (EIN) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. An EIN is a nine-digit federal tax ID number assigned to businesses by the IRS—like a Social Security number, but for companies. An EIN also helps secure credit accounts for business expenses.
Incorporating in Wyoming
To formally launch your business in Wyoming, you may have to pay certain fees and file specific documents with the Secretary of State’s office (Some structures, like sole proprietorships and general partnerships, don’t need to do this). Here’s how to incorporate in Wyoming.
- LLCs. For an LLC, you must file Articles of Organization with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. You can do so by mail (with a $100 filing fee) or online (for an additional $2).
- Corporations. For a corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. You can do so by mail or online, and pay a $100 filing fee.
Regardless of which option you choose, you can expect to provide some key information when filing your articles, including:
- Your business’s name and primary mailing address
- Contact information for a registered agent
- Names and contact information for any business partners
- The number of shares you plan to initially offer, if forming a corporation
Consider opening a business bank account. It’s not required, but the Small Business Administration recommends that all small-business owners maintain business bank accounts separate from their personal assets.
5. Obtain business licenses and permits
There is no general business license required in Wyoming. However, certain industries are subject to required permitting, including general contracting, manufacturing food products, trust companies, and educational organizations. If you sell goods or services subject to sales tax, you will also need to obtain a sales tax license from the Wyoming Department of Revenue.
6. Examine business insurance options in Wyoming
Unforeseen losses can be catastrophic for new businesses, and those in Wyoming are no exception. While some business structures like corporations and LLCs offer a degree of personal asset protection, you may want to purchase business insurance to cover products, vehicles, and other assets. Standard insurance plans for Wyoming businesses include:
- Workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance, or workers’ comp, covers employees for injuries or illness they suffer on the job. All employers doing business in Wyoming are required to carry this type of insurance by law.
- General liability insurance. General liability insurance covers some financial losses (like no-fault property damage) and injuries like a customer slip-and-fall. While Wyoming law does not require you to hold this policy, you may need it in order to rent an office, storefront, or warehouse space.
- Professional liability insurance. Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, covers financial losses from malpractice suits concerning high-competency professional service like law or accounting. For example, an accountant who neglects to properly file your taxes, leaving a customer open to an audit, may be liable for malpractice damages, and potentially covered by professional liability insurance.
The federal Small Business Administration maintains a list of more insurance policies your new Wyoming business might need.
7. Understand financial considerations
In addition to purchasing insurance, you’ll likely have to make other investments at the early stages of your Wyoming business. These might include renting brick-and-mortar retail space, setting up a professionally designed business website, and purchasing ads, equipment, and/or software. You may also want to hire lawyers, accountants, and other professionals to support business operations on a contract basis.
These initial business costs can add up quickly. Luckily, there are accessible resources to help you obtain the necessary funds for startup costs. There are also a variety of grants and financial assistance programs available to some business owners in Wyoming, alongside resources offered by the Wyoming Business Council.
8. Market your business
Devising a marketing strategy is essential for getting the word out about your new Wyoming business. Your subsequent marketing plan might include several of the following elements:
- Market research. Thorough market research is critical to understanding your target market and can help your Wyoming business stand out from the competition.
- Advertising. Design, get for free, or purchase print and digital ads—or hire an agency to do it on your behalf.
- Social media. Every successful business must maintain a solid social media presence. A solid social media marketing strategy includes platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok—especially if you want to appeal to younger audiences. Consistently publish content that aligns with your brand to up customer engagement.
- Public relations. Identify and cultivate relationships with media outlets—both in Wyoming and across the country—to increase your visibility organically.
- Customer retention. Build genuine relationships with customers that keep them returning to your business—and spreading the word to friends, family, and colleagues.
Starting a business in Wyoming FAQ
How much does it cost to start a business in Wyoming?
It costs at least $100 to set up your LLC or corporation in Wyoming. You will also have to file an annual report, with a fee of $60, or .0002¢ on the dollar in company assets, whichever is greater.
Does Wyoming require a business license?
Wyoming does not require a general statewide business license, but certain industries are subject to required permitting—including general contracting and food product manufacturing.
Is Wyoming a good place to start a business?
Wyoming is a great place to start a business. Its benefits include no state corporate or income taxes, low costs of doing business, an educated workforce, and high standard of living.