Making it Happen

"We got our new ice cream truck business rolling in time for the summer season with the help of Montana & Idaho CDC. It turned our dreams into reality.” - Nate McEwen

Starting a Business

Step 1: Evaluating Your Business Idea

Since you have landed here, you must have thought a lot about a business idea. Montana & Idaho CDC can help you through this start-up process by providing financing paired with tools to help your business succeed.

Step 2: Business Idea

A business plan provides a roadmap for your company and determines the viability of your product or service. If you are looking for financing, a business plan will be required. Often as you write out the plan you discover strengths and weaknesses in your marketing, sales, and operational strategies. Our detailed instructions make it easy to plug your information in and move to the next phase of starting a business.


Our Business Plan Outline maps out a plan for each of the following areas:

  • Business Summary
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Financial Plan
  • Request for Financials

This process is not as hard as you think it is. Be diligent and thorough in your research, including talking to potential customers, observing the market, understand industry trends, and talk to other business owners.

Step 3: Starting a Business

Your cash flow projection is your business plan in numbers. The projection helps you analyze your sales and expenses for the next 24 months. This determines the viability of your plan and can help you figure out how much money you will need before the start-up.

Completing the cash flow projections:

  • Download the form and read the instructions (Excel)
  • Know your startup costs and purchases
  • Estimate your monthly overhead or operating expenses
  • Determine your monthly sales and cost of goods sold

Step 4: Business Logistics

At this point you have a plan and some numbers in place; now it is time to get the ball rolling. Montana and Idaho Secretary of States’ websites are a great resource on all the details. A few things to consider include your business structure, filing your business name, licensing, and taxes.

Business logistics in detail:

  • Determine a business name
    • Find out if the name is taken by doing a search on the Secretary of State’s Business Entity site. Consider searching nationwide as well. A web search is a good place to start.
    • Make sure the domain name for your exact business name is available.
  • Choose a business structure
    • There are tax and liability implications surrounding your chosen business structure. You can see an overview of each here. Consult an attorney and/or accountant to see what works best for you.
  • File the papers
    • File your name
    • Determine what local and state licensing is necessary for your business at the City’s official website
    • Determine if you need a tax id number
  • Establish your business accounts
    • Business checking accounts, insurance, payroll, accounting software, and utilities.

Step 5: Financing Your Business

There is no free money in for-profit business. Most people start their business with help from savings and family or friends. If you find you need more money, you can fund your business with either loans or investors. Montana & Idaho CDC provides loans to businesses that may not qualify for bank financing. Visit our loans page to learn more.


Have your business plan and cash flow projections ready. Lenders will evaluate you and your business based on the following criteria:

  • Management Ability
    • How many years’ experience do you having running this business or a similar business?
  • Credit Score
    • Get your credit report and check for accuracy and open collections here.
  • Collateral
    • Do you have any assets you can pledge for the loan? (i.e., home equity, business equipment, or vehicles.)
  • Down Payment
    • Do you have any cash to contribute?
  • Debt Service Coverage
    • Will the business generate enough revenue to cover the debt?

Step 6: Business Planning Tools and Templates

Click on the links below to download templates that will help you simplify your business planning process.

Dollars into Difference

What Montana & Idaho CDC Means to Communities

  • Owner of Tri-State Restaurant Supply, Jim Bliss, and one of his employees repair an ice cream machine.