Planning a Business

What are your business goals and needs? What is the market, service or product your business will offer?

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) offers tips and resources for starting your own business including templates for writing a business plan, information about where to turn for funding, and local and national success stories. You may also request an advisor for one-on-one guidance.

The VtSBDC also offers half-day “Starting Your Own Business” workshops led by advisors who know what it’s like to run a small business in Vermont. Upcoming dates and locations across the state are available online.

Does your business have legs? Assess the potential threats to starting a business and begin planning using the VtSBDC tools including templates for writing a business plan or business model canvas, a visual one-page alternative to writing a full business plan. While there, you will also find marketing planning and operations planning tools.

Review the Small Business Resource Guide for an overview of these and other resources available in Vermont.

Establishing a Business

What are the logistics of starting a business? What type of business entity should I form? What do I need insurance for? What legal obligations do I have for my employees?

Registration: Register your business name with the country clerk where your business is located. If you are a corporation, register with the Vermont Secretary of State, 128 State St. Montpelier, VT 05633, (802) 653-6814.

Taxes: Register your business with the IRS and acquire an Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number. Internal Revenue Service Tax Assistance Centers are located in Brattleboro, Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland.

The IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Tax Center offers an online tax calendar, forms and publication, and online learning

Social Security: If you have any employees, including officers of a corporation but not the sole proprietor or partners, you must make periodic payments, and/or file quarterly reports about payroll taxes and other mandatory deductions. You can contact the IRS or the Social Security Administration for information, assistance and forms, (800) 772-1213. You can file W-2s online or verify job seekers through the Social Security Number Verification Service.

E-Verify/Employment Eligibility Verification: The Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees. The law obligates an employer to process Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Business Liaison offers a selection of information bulletins and live assistance through the Employer Hotline. For forms call (800) 870-3676, for the employer hotline call (800) 357-2099. E-Verify is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It’s the quickest way for employers to determine the employment eligibility of new hires. It is a secure system that electronically verifies the Social Security number and employment eligibility information reported on Form I-9. Go online, call (888) 464-4218 or e-mail

The U.S. Department of Labor promotes and develops the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improving working conditions; advancing opportunities for profitable employment; assuring work-related benefits and rights.

Vermont Department of Labor 5 Green Mountain Drive Montpelier, VT 05601 (802) 828-4000.

Health & Safety: All businesses with employees are required to comply with state and federal regulations regarding the protection of employees.

Unemployment Compensation: A business is required to pay state unemployment tax if it employs at least one worker for some part of a day in each of 20 different weeks in a calendar year or it pays wages of at least $1,500 during a calendar quarter.

Disability Compliance: Assistance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, (800) 669-3362.

Patents & Trademarks: A patent is the grant of a property right to the inventor by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, (800) 786-9199. It provides the owner with the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling the patented item in the United States. Trademarks or service marks are words, phrases, symbols, designs or combinations that identify and distinguish the source of goods. Trademarks may be registered at both the state and federal level. Trademarks and service marks may be registered in a state, but federally registered trademarks may conflict with and supersede state registered business and product names.

State registration of a trademark: Articles of incorporation, trademark registration with the Vermont Secretary of State,128 State St., Montpelier, Vermont 05633, (802) 828-2363.

Copyrights: Copyrights protect original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyrights do not protect facts, ideas and systems, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Contact the U.S. Copyright Office at (202) 707-3000 or toll free (877) 476-0778.


Are there organizations that I can turn to for guidance and support?

Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA)

A statewide coalition of for-profit outdoor businesses working to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and Vermont outdoor recreation businesses about business development initiatives, collaboration opportunities, and outdoor recreation economy policy. VOBA is dedicated to strengthening, expanding, attracting, and retaining outdoor recreation economy businesses in Vermont.

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF)

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the sustainable development of Vermont’s economy. We develop creative approaches and innovative models that grow Vermont’s economy by elevating the well-being of our people, communities, and the environment.

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR)

VBSR is a statewide, nonprofit business association with a mission to foster a business ethic in Vermont that recognizes the opportunity and responsibility of the business community to set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of our citizens. We provide concrete resources and information to help improve our members’ triple-bottom-line business practices.  Empowering our members to solve environmental, social and economic problems, we share such successes with legislative bodies, news media, and the general public.

Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR)

Created in 1987 as a nonprofit, public interest organization, the Vermont Business Roundtable membership is comprised of 100 CEOs of Vermont’s most active and committed for-profit and not-for-profit employers. Our mission is to make Vermont the best place in America to do business, be educated and live life.

Main Street Alliance (MSA-VT)

MSA-VT’s mission is to elevate the voices of small business owners on important public policy issues in Vermont. We are committed to bringing business owners to the table to engage in and develop policies that reflect the interconnected nature of small businesses and the communities they serve.

Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF)

The Vermont Community Loan Fund is a mission-driven, community-focused alternative lender. We provide loans and other resources to local businesses, community organizations & nonprofits, early care & learning providers and developers of affordable housing who don’t qualify for a loan from a traditional lender

Vermont Chamber

The Vermont Chamber helps its members grow their businesses and the Vermont economy, representing all industries and sectors. The Chamber organizes networking events, advocates for policy and creates marketing opportunities to make Vermont a better, more vibrant place to live, work, start a business and play. Find a local or regional chamber of commerce.

Vermont Futures Project

Through leadership, research and education, the Vermont Futures Project seeks to inform the conversation about Vermont’s economic future and demonstrate how a healthy economy contributes to Vermont’s vibrant communities and unique quality of life. The economic dashboard is a snapshot of the current economic health of Vermont that gives leaders important metrics to understand and measure progress in securing Vermont’s future.

Launch VT

LaunchVT is an early stage acceleration program seeking viability, scalability, and impact. Vermont startups are selected annually for an eight week intensive program that culminates with a pitch competition. Entrepreneurs in the LaunchVT cohort work with a dedicated coach, strategic advisors, and each other to refine their business models and hone their pitches in order to compete for $100,000 in cash and in-kind services.

USDA Rural Development

Rural Business Development Grants are available in Vermont. This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

Regional Development Corporations

Every area in the state is served by a Regional Development Corporation staffed by a full time professional who is responsible for encouraging economic development. A wide range of help is available from financial packaging to permit assistance, to locating space and making contacts.