How to Start a Sole Proprietorship in Idaho

Last updated: March 8th, 2024
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Starting a business can be both an exciting and rewarding venture, and if you want to start your business immediately, starting a sole proprietorship is one of the quickest business structures to choose if you want to establish your business quickly. If you want to become a sole proprietor in Idaho, this article will serve as your guide to understanding all the necessary requirements so you can start your own business in no time.

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What is a sole proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned and operated by a single person. It is the most common business structure, and many new business owners and startups chose this business entity because of its simplicity and flexibility. 

As a sole proprietor, you have complete control over your business. However, the only drawback is that it will take a lot of your time, and you also have unlimited liability when it comes to business debts, as there is no legal distinction between business and personal assets. 

Examples of a sole proprietorship

Sole proprietorships are prevalent in many industries, including consulting services, freelancing, retail, and other home-based businesses. Some examples of a sole proprietorship include, freelance writers, bake shop owners, local convenience stores, landscaping contractors, and any other similar businesses run by a single individual.

What qualifies your business as a sole proprietorship?

If you are an individual who wishes to engage in business activity without formally establishing a separate legal entity, you automatically qualify as a sole proprietor. As long as the business has only one owner, it can qualify as a sole proprietorship. 

If the business has two or more owners, that can no longer become a sole proprietorship. And if that is the case, you must get your business incorporated or file for other business entities, such as a limited liability company, general partnership, or corporation. 

Even if a business has one owner, some individuals prefer to apply for a single-member LLC, which is possible, especially if you want legal protection for your personal assets. 

Sole prop vs LLC

Understanding the differences between a sole proprietorship and an LLC is essential if you want to choose the ideal business entity for your startup. While a sole proprietorship offers simplicity and minimal formalities, an LLC provides personal liability protection and potential tax advantages.

Who is it best for?

This business structure is best for freelancers, independent contractors, and solo service providers. Small business owners seeking simplicity and full control and businesses with minimal risk exposure and liability concerns find this business entity as the most ideal option for them. 

How to set up a sole proprietorship in Idaho

Consulting with a financial advisor or business attorney is also helpful if you cannot decide what business structure is ideal for the type of your business.

Is there any formal paperwork filed to establish this type of business?

Unlike other business entities, such as LLCs and corporations, there are no formal registration or filing processes required for sole proprietorships in Idaho. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no paperwork involved at all.

Sole proprietorships in Idaho may need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally. These business licenses are specific to your industry and business location, which means that they vary depending on the nature of your business.

Although it might not apply to your business, you should check the Idaho Secretary of State’s official website or a local government agency to ensure compliance with government regulations.

If you are convinced that a sole proprietorship is the right business entity for your new business, you can start doing business immediately. However, there are some key considerations and other mandatory requirements such as naming your business and getting state licenses that you might need to legally operate. Here are the steps to starting a sole proprietorship in Idaho:

Naming your business

Do you want to name your business? You can come up with a business name or you can simply go by your personal name. Here’s more information on both options:

Using your name

You can operate your sole proprietorship using your name, which means you don’t have to do anything. No paperwork is necessary. If you are planning to build a brand using your own name, it is better to operate your business under your name.

Setting up a DBA

If you want to set up a DBA, you will need to come up with an appropriate name for your business. Plus, the name has to be unique because businesses in Idaho cannot have the same name. 

You can search the Idaho business database to determine if a name is available using the business name search tool on the Idaho Secretary of State website. If you tried searching for the business name you selected and there aren’t any exact or similar matches, the name is free to use and you can now register it as your trade name or fictitious name when you file for a DBA, or Doing Business As. 

To file the DBA and register a new business name in Idaho, you can download this form or apply online through this link. It costs $25 to apply online and $45 through the mail, but either option has the same processing time, which is 5 to 10 business days. 

State licenses

Certain professions and industries may require specific licenses or permits in Idaho. You can  contact the appropriate state agencies or consult the Idaho Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to determine if your business activities require any additional licenses or certifications.

Idaho taxes

Because you don’t need to register your business with the IRS, you don’t need to prepare a separate tax form for your business. All the income, expenses, and other business tax items will be filed under your name and social security number. 

To pay taxes for your sole proprietorship under your personal income tax return, you need to use a Schedule C tax, which is used to report business profits and losses. You are personally responsible for paying income tax, self-employment tax, and any applicable state and local taxes for your sole proprietorship. 

It is sometimes recommended for new business owners to consult with a tax professional to ensure proper compliance and to ensure the correct tax payments are made. In addition, tax professionals can also help you maximize deductions so you don’t pay more than you need to on your business income.  


  • As the boss of your own business, you have complete control over the decision-making and business operations
  • There are fewer compliance requirements
  • It involves minimal paperwork and legal formalities, allowing you to start operations almost immediately
  • You have the freedom to handle business finances the way you see fit without control from shareholders and board members


  • Unlimited personal liability for legal obligations and business debts
  • Limited financing options when it comes to funding
  • It might lack credibility for some potential customers due to the simple structure designed for small businesses
  • There is no perpetual existence as the business dies when the owner of a sole proprietorship dies


Are sole proprietorships the best choice in Idaho?

It’s advisable to assess your specific needs, consult with professionals, and consider alternative business structures like LLCs or corporations before determining if a sole proprietorship is the best choice for your Idaho business.

Are sole proprietorships easy to manage?

Yes, sole proprietorships are easy to manage compared to other business structures. They involve minimal paperwork and formalities. As a sole proprietor, you have complete control over decision-making, and there are typically fewer compliance requirements compared to larger entities. 

Can you hire employees as a sole proprietorship in Idaho?

Yes, as a sole proprietorship in Idaho, you can hire employees to help run your business. However, to do so, you’ll need an EIN (employer identification number), which is issued by the IRS.  

Can sole proprietorships apply for insurance in Idaho?

Yes, sole proprietorships in Idaho can apply for various types of insurance coverage to protect their business. This may include general liability insurance, professional liability insurance (if applicable to your industry), property insurance, and business interruption insurance, among others.

What is the biggest issue sole proprietors in Idaho face?

The biggest issue of being a sole proprietor in Idaho is the personal liability that comes with it. As a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for any debts, legal claims, or obligations incurred by your business.

Should a sole proprietor open business bank accounts?

Yes. Idaho entrepreneurs should separate business finances from their personal finances. For tax purposes, keeping separate accounts is easier.

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