There are many federal, state, and local requirements for doing business in Colorado. The following is a checklist of general issues that you may want to consider as you set up your business. Some of these items may not apply to your business or situation, and there may be other considerations not listed here.
For more help with starting a business, see the Colorado Business Resource Book.
Register & Maintain a New Business
- Register your business with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by filing online.
- Subscribe to email notifications to receive important reminders related to your new business. The Secretary’s office sends all business reminders electronically, so it’s important to keep an active email address on file.
- Maintain your record at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to avoid delinquency and higher filing fees. This may require filing an annual periodic report with our office. More information on periodic reports can be found on our FAQ.
- Hold a first meeting of directors/shareholders or managers.
- Elect new directors if applicable, appoint officers, and adopt bylaws.
- Determine which officers are authorized to sign checks.
- Decide if you are going to do business under a name other than the entity name. To file a trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State, go to your entity record and file a statement of trade name. More information on filing a trade name with our office can be found on our FAQs.
- If applicable, contact the Secretary of State and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for information on state and federal trademarks and copyright. Trademark FAQs.
- Document buy-sell agreements between shareholders if applicable.
- Contact the Internal Revenue Service. Are you going to apply for “S” corporation status?
- Determine if and how you will be selling stock.
- Create a business plan, budget, cash flow projections, and determine working capital needs.
- Contact your accountant for bookkeeping and account management.
- Establish a business bank account and credit card.
- Establish business credit.
- Understand the tax implication of the entity you are using for your business.
- Obtain your federal tax identification number from the IRS.
- Obtain your state tax identification number from the Colorado Department of Revenue.
- Check that you have all of the federal, state and local tax information and forms:
- Federal withholding
- Federal/state unemployment
- State withholding
- State workmen's compensation
- State & local sales tax
- Establish your product and market.
- Create a marketing plan.
- Create a distribution plan.
- Advertise your business
- Create a web page
- Create social media accounts
- Create a logo
- Advertise on radio/television
- Order business cards/signage
Local Regulatory Environment
- Determine if local zoning is appropriate for your business use.
- Contact your city hall or county clerk to obtain necessary business licenses or other special licenses, such as a liquor license.
- Contact local/state health department if you will be serving food or providing public accommodations.
Department of Regulatory Agencies Small Business Guide to Insurance
- Obtain proper insurance for your business. This could include:
- Fire and Premises
- Business interruption
- Officer and director liability
- Products liability
State Regulatory Environment
- Apply for a license on the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) site if you will be a state-regulated entity.
- Contact the department of revenue if you will be serving liquor.
- If your business is a utility or transportation service, check with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for their regulatory authority.
- Contact the Department of Revenue if you will buy or sell wholesale.
Federal Regulatory Environment
- Comply with state and federal minimum wage laws.
- Review the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
- Become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Review Colorado Department of Health & Environment regulations if your business has an environmental impact.
- Contact your local fire department or the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms if your business involves the sale or use of firearms, explosives, or fireworks.
- Comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
- Decide who manages and how.
- Consult with your attorney to create standard contracts for the sale of your products or for the purchase of materials.
- Verify employee eligibility pursuant to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Get information about e-Verify.
- See the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for information on satisfying the requirements of the Colorado Employment Verification law.
- Contact your attorney regarding the tax and liability impact for independent contractors or employees.
- Draft employment contracts with upper-level management employees if applicable.
- Determine employee fringe benefits such as vacation, sick leave, retirement plans, stock options, military leave, health and disability programs, automobiles or auto allowances, and other perks.
- Draft nondisclosure agreements if applicable.
Register with the Department of Regulatory Agencies if your business needs to be licensed in the State of Colorado.
You should not consider any guidance or assistance that you receive from this office to be legal, business or tax advice. Any such guidance or assistance is no substitute for the informed advice of competent legal, business, tax or other professional counsel. If you have substantive questions, we encourage you to consult your private attorney, business or tax advisor, or other professional. The employees of our office are not authorized to provide legal, business or tax advice. More information.