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Oklahomans Start Businesses at a Brisk Pace

In an average month, 350 of every 100,000 adults set up shop somewhere in Oklahoma, resulting in about 70,000 new businesses a year. The average national startup rate is 330, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which has been tracking startups since 1995.

To be a successful entrepreneur in high tech and fast-growing industries, it helps to have a college degree, but you don't have to be born with a lemonade stand in your front yard. Check out these Five myths about entrepreneurs.

With organizations across the state helping entrepreneurs go from concept to production and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce offering a robust array of online Start a Business tools and information, links to additional resources, and a team of business advisors, Oklahoma's pro-entrepreneurship environment is impressive -- and at your fingertips.

Programs and organizations ready to assist new and small businesses include business incubators; the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST); and the University of Oklahoma's Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth.

How Do I Start?

Q: How do I start a business in Oklahoma?

A: Here are the basics that apply to almost all new business start-ups:

1. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS at www.irs.gov or (800) 829-4933.

2. Register your business with the appropriate state agencies, including:

a. The Secretary of State – This includes checking name availability and protecting your trade name.

b. The Oklahoma Tax Commission – Download this Oklahoma Business Registration Packet.

c. Oklahoma Employment Security Commission – For unemployment insurance regulations and information.

3. Determine what additional statewide licenses and permits may be required for your business by visiting our Business Licensing System. Check with your local city hall to determine if additional licenses or permits are needed.

4. Inform yourself! Read and take advantage of all the additional resources available to you on this site and others for how to successfully start and run a business. Can't find what you're looking for? Contact the Commerce 2nd Century Entrepreneurship Center at (800) 879-6552 or email your questions to okstartup@okcommerce.gov.

Info About Grants

Q: I've heard there is grant money available to help fund my for-profit start-up business. Where can I find those grants?

A – Typically, grant money is only available to assist non-profit organizations. If your business is non-profit, you will want to start with the Grants.gov and Foundation Center websites. However, the availability of grant funds for for-profit businesses is extremely limited and typically highly specialized. We have found no consistent, reliable source for small businesses either public or private. We don't want to discourage you from searching for such funding, but the Oklahoma Department of Commerce is not aware of for-profit grant funding.

Q: If grants aren't available, how do I fund my new business?

A – Assistance from personal resources, such as family and friends, followed by traditional financing through a local lending institution where you have an established relationship are the most common methods for funding a start-up business. Some businesses may qualify for assistance in the form of loan guarantees from the
Small Business Administration (SBA). In fact, most financial institutions will require an SBA guarantee. Many banks have departments that specialize in SBA lending. An SBA Prequalification Intermediary can help you to prepare your application for a loan. To find the intermediary closest to you, contact the SBA district office in Oklahoma City at (405) 231-5521. Any reputable lender will expect to see a thorough business plan. Visit the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Business Financing section for additional financial resources.

Business Plans

Q: Who can provide assistance for writing a business plan?

A – You can get one-to-one assistance through one of the many Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers located throughout Oklahoma. To find the closest center to you, call (800) 522-6154 or visit the OSBDC website. You may also find business plan help through one of Oklahoma's Career Technology Centers. Visit the CareerTech website to learn more about the help available or call (800) 522-6154.

Business Plan Guide: English

El Plan de Negocios: Spanish

Read more business start-up frequently asked questions.