Thinking about starting your own business? Here is a step-by-step resource guide on 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 attend 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 - OzSBI has a revolving loan fund from which it can make loans of up to $25,000. 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. Microloans are available to active OzSBI Clients; if not an OzSBI Client , a processing fee of up to 1% of the loan amount will be required.

    2. SCOCOG - The South Central Ozark Regional Development Company (SCOCOG), a general not-for-profit corporation, was incorporated on November 24, 1986. The corporation was capitalized with $500,000 in Title IX funds received through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce. SCOCOG has two revolving loan funds.

    3. U.S. Small Business Administration - SBA offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes.  

  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 as 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.


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.


Business Basics: if you're starting a business, start by researching these websites

Registrations, Licenses & Permits: learn how to register your business and what licenses and permits are required

Legal Structure: choose what legal structure is right for your business

Finances & Loans: how to locate the money you need


Tax Assistance: make this less scary

Customer Service: learn tips that help you excel

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 SBTDC  (Small Business & Technology 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 SBTDC 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.  

  • The West Plains Economic Development Corporation creates awareness of  business opportunities and resources that are available to companies and business executives. Specifically, the Economic Development Corporation is responsible for: retention, expansion, and /or relocation of existing businesses within the City of West Plains / Howell County, marketing the city of West Plains / Howell County to targeted industries, businesses, and commercial retail users and more. Please call 417-256-7176 for more information. 

Missouri Business Resources

Industry Resources

Regional Business Reports

Event Training Calendars

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: