Alaska Small Business Development Center

Small Business FAQs

Think you’re alone in trying to figure out what to do next?  These questions have been asked repeatedly by new business owners, existing business owners, and potential business owners.  You are far from alone.  Read on… you may be surprised to find many of your questions here.

If you don’t find your answer here, contact an SBDC office in your area and get your answer today.

We also have FAQs about the SBDC.

Depending on your type of business you may qualify for several state or federal certifications. The SBA provides more about the federal certifications, while the State of Alaska provides information on state certifications. To find out how you qualify or to learn more about state or federal programs, please contact our partner program PTAC.

To understand your risks, consult with an insurance agent. The agent can also give you quotes to help you develop accurate startup cost projections. Typically the types of insurance a small business owner will need to consider are: liability, property, worker’s compensation and, in some cases, bonding.

Starting a business always takes at least some amount of money, or “financing”, to get started. It is important to research exactly how much financing you’ll need, how it will be used, and what the best source of financing will be for you based on your individual situation. While the Alaska SBDC is not a lender, we do work closely with our clients to prepare for, seek out, and obtain the financing they need.

There are many different types of money out there, we’ll help you choose the one that’s best for your business, and we’ll help you put a plan together to keep on top of your business’ financial life. The best introduction to the different types of funding available is our Starting a Business class.

Lending institutions typically look for the 5 C’s when evaluating loan applications: character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions. Lenders will expect business owners to contribute their own money to the development of the business before they will consider loaning money to a business owner.

They also make decisions based on credit score, good character and ability of the business to pay back the loan. For further assistance preparing a loan proposal, contact the Alaska SBDC.

Typically, you will need a personal financial statement, tax returns for the last three years (if currently in business, both business and personal tax returns), as well as copies of contractual agreements (for example, a copy of a lease). Depending on the situation, lenders will likely want to see a business plan, or at a minimum, financial statements demonstrating how the loan will benefit the business and be paid back.

Depending on whether you are selling products or services, you may consider protecting your business name by registering for a Trademark or Servicemark. A trademark, issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office, lasts for 10 years and can be renewed. For more information, contact our partner program TREND.

A copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. You can learn more about copyrighting and the process of getting your material protected at

We encourage you to connect directly with the State of Alaska Personnel and Labor Relations Department on your background questions. Additionally, TSS Safety may be another valuable resource.

As for a referral, the Avitus Group provides human resource services that may meet your needs.

Lastly, the Alaska Division of Health Care Services provides a wealth of information on background check statutes, regulations, and materials.

To change from a sole proprietorship to an LLC you will need to work through the State of Alaska to transfer ID numbers, licenses and permits to your new LLC and there are details included in that process: taxes, state regulations, state requirements, and separation of personal property.

The Small Business Development Center does not have attorneys and unfortunately cannot provide legal assistance. Though a business advisor can help guide you through your questions in a general sense, you may be referred over to a legal professional if your questions require legal interpretation.

Contact us for an updated referral list at!

You will be your own most important employee, so an objective appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses is essential Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I a self-starter?
  • How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?
  • How good am I at making decisions?
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
  • How well do I plan and organize?
  • Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?
  • How will the business affect my family?

The four things to consider when purchasing a business license are:

  1. Exposure to liabilities
  2. Cost of creation and ongoing maintenance
  3. Ability to raise money
  4. Tax implications

Confused yet? That’s okay – our business advisors are available to help you think through these four considerations more carefully, though ultimately you’ll want to see your lawyer and your accountant before making a final decision. To meet with a business advisor click here.

Before you get a business license you’ll probably want to think through your choice of business structure carefully (see “What kind of business license should I buy”). However if you’ve already gone through the steps and are certain you’ve chosen the right type, you can obtain your license online by visiting the Alaska Division of Corporations and Professional Licensing.

Contact the municipality where your business will be. For example, if it is in Anchorage, go to the Anchorage municipality page for a comprehensive list of categories that require additional permits.

Having a working relationship with the following professionals will save you time and money down the line, and put your business on solid ground:

  • CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
  • Lawyer
  • Insurance agent
  • Banker
  • Bookkeeper
  • Coach (us!)

If you’re finding these hard to come by, call us. We’ll help you think about the characteristics to consider in developing a trustworthy team.

The Section 3 program requires that recipients of certain HUD financial assistance, to the greatest extent possible, provide training, employment, contracting, and other economic opportunities to low- and very low-income persons, especially recipients of government assistance for housing, and to businesses that provide economic opportunities to low- and very low-income persons. Learn more here!

For support, contact our friends at the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

Whether you are preparing to sell, merge, or close your business, an Alaska SBDC advisor can help.

Where do you want to go with your business and what is your desired exit? If part of the plan is to sell your business and go into retirement, do you know what your business will be worth when you sell it? No matter what exit you have envisioned, proper planning will help you make the most of the transition and help to ensure that you realize the real value of your business.

Prepare yourself with tools needed to successfully exit your business here. Some of these resources may be self-explanatory, while others might require the assistance of an Alaska SBDC Advisor. If you need assistance, contact the Alaska SBDC office nearest you.

Before you apply for a business name reservation or registration, be sure you read and understand the difference between Reserving and Registering a Business Name.

Determine if the name is “distinguishable“ from another name on record by conducting a thorough search including, but not limited to: the internet; business license records; corporations records; professional license records; telephone directories; trade magazines; trademark records; and catalogs.

Check out the State of Alaska's business licensing area directly for full instructions and next steps.

When starting an online business, we suggest you treat it exactly the same as a brick and mortar business.

  • You will need a business license at a minimum
  • You will need to establish a legal entity if you choose to be an LLC or a corporation
  • You will need insurance as well

The only thing that may be different for an online business is in regards to sales tax. For example, if you are in Anchorage you will not (currently) need to collect taxes. You will also not need to collect taxes for transactions that you receive from areas with sales tax as long as you do not go out to get them. For instance, if someone from Wasilla goes online to buy from your website, you will not need to collect taxes for Wasilla. However, if you are in Wasilla, you will need to collect taxes for Wasilla and the borough. Also if you go to Wasilla you would need to register for local licensure.

If you would like further assistance, a business advisor would be happy to guide you through the process. Apply online for free counseling services here.