Startup Support

Support Resources for your Business Dreams

The Ozarks Small Business Incubator is here to serve business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in all stages of development, from an idea, to support after launching. Starting a business is a big task, and we are the area’s go-to resource for support. OzSBI offers free one-on-one mentoring, workshops for every level of development, a multitude of excellent networking opportunities, and space to start and grow your business.

For those who are researchers at heart, this page contains a goldmine of critical information about how to start a business from the idea stage through the launch stage. Those who prefer hands-on support (or a combination of both!) might consider starting with our Smart Start: Developing a Successful Business workshops. These free workshops are held once a month and are an excellent starting point for your entrepreneurship journey. Be sure to keep an eye on our events page to see when the next Smart Start workshop will be held.

How to Start a Business in the Ozarks

  1. Write a Business Plan – A written plan or summary can be a guide as you start or run your business. It allows you to put your ideas down on paper, challenges you to think through the big picture, and provides direction for moving forward. Your plan should continue to grow and expand as your company does.  To get started on your business plan, please consider attending our Launch U Informational seminar.
  2. Become an OzSBI Client – Starting and running a business requires a lot of your time and energy. If you have a business idea or are already in business, let OzSBI help you to the next level of success. You can get help preparing a business plan and securing financing to expand or relocate your business
  3. Finance Your Business
    1. OzSBI Microloan Fund – OzSBI has a revolving loan fund from which it can make loans of up to $50,000. This can be used as a secondary loan (gap financing) to supplement a bank loan or other start-up capital. While OzSBI reviews each loan application carefully, we are less stringent in our requirements than traditional banks.
    2. U.S. Small Business Administration – SBA offers a variety of small business loan programs for very specific purposes.  
    3. New Growth Capital – New Growth Capital offers a START HERE Revolving Loan Fund to startup and existing businesses that are unable to find traditional financing.
  4. Determine Your Legal Structure – When beginning a business, you must decide what form of business entity to establish. The form of business you choose will have legal and tax implications, so choosing the correct form is important. 
  5. Register Your Business Name – If you choose to name your business anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities. This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” name and requires you to create and register a fictitious name with the Missouri Secretary of State 
  6. Get Tax ID # – An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, a nine-digit number that IRS assigns in the following format: XX-XXXXXXX. It is used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees.
  7. Register for State and Local Taxes
    1. State of Missouri Taxes – Your tax requirement depends on the legal structure of your business. For example, if your business is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), the LLC gets taxed separately from the owners, while sole proprietors report their personal and business income taxes using the same form.
      1. Business Tax Registration 
      2. General Tax Information and Forms
      3. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
      4. Unemployment Insurance Tax
    2. For local tax obligations, contact the City Hall or Chamber of Commerce in your area.
  8. Obtain Business License and Permits – Federal and state governments require business owners to obtain certain license and permits to be legally operating business. Make sure you have all the necessary permits.
  9. File your Beneficial Ownership Information Report – effective as of January 1, 2024, all businesses must report their ownership interest on a Business Ownership Information Report. This is required by the U.S. Treasury Department in order to make it harder for “bad actors” to hide or benefit from ill-gotten gains.
    • Businesses that were created before December 31st, 2023 must file by December 31st, 2024.
    • Businesses created after January 1st, 2024 have 30 days from the date of creation or registration to file.
    • All corporations, LLC’s and business entities that were created by filing with the Secretary of State are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report.
    • Sole Proprietorships are excluded unless they were created by filing with a Secretary of State. Note that filing a fictitious name, applying for a license, or for an IRS Employer ID number do not count because they do not create the Sole Proprietorship.
    • More information about the Beneficial Ownership Information Report and who must file it can be found in the Small Entity Compliance Guide published by FinCEN.

More Resources

Please review these links about starting and running your business. The list is not all inclusive, but can give you additional information to help you start and run your business. Once you have looked over the links, please contact our office at 417-256-9724 or for a free consultation to address any questions you may have.

Registrations, Licenses & Permits: 

Learn how to register your business and what licenses and permits are required

Finances & Loans: 

How to locate the money you need

Tax Assistance: 

Business taxes don’t have to be scary

State, Local, and Regional Resources

The Ozarks is rich in business resources to help you achieve your goals. Unless otherwise noted, the following all work with businesses in the entire OzSBI 7-county region. Here is a list of those who work with OzSBI:

  • Missouri State University SBDC  (Small Business Development Center)  The office of the local Coordinator is located in the West Plains Civic Center, although the main office is headquartered in Springfield, MO. The SBDC was established to provide businesses with training, products and solutions designed to help them become part of Missouri’s thriving business sector.  Most services are free.  For more information, or to make an appointment, call (417) 255-7966.
  • The Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Missouri Extension Office in West Plains guides firms interested in doing contract business with federal, state and local governments.  The office is located two blocks away from the OzSBI building  at 217 Aid Ave.  Most services are free.  For more information, or to make an appointment, call (417) 256-2391.
  • SCORE is a mostly all-volunteer organization funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the mission to mentor small businesses.  Services are free. To request a visit from a SCORE mentor, go to their website and click on “Get Free Advice Now”.  Note that you must “register” and then fill out the form requesting help.
  • Missouri State University works closely with OzSBI clients and has a Small Business and Entrepreneur program that OzSBI clients are encouraged to participate in.
  • South Central Ozarks Council Of Governments (SCOCOG) is a non-profit that serves the many governmental bodies within the 7-county region.  Their primary focus is on economic development.  For small businesses, perhaps the most helpful resource they offer is a revolving loan fund with low interest and less demanding credit requirements.  

Chambers of Commerce

Many towns in our 7-county region have a Chamber of Commerce.  These offices can be a rich source of local information. Be sure to talk to yours. A few are listed below:

Have Questions?