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Success in the Aloha State: A Guide to Starting a Business in Hawaii

Hawaii. The beaches, the sun, the cool tropical breeze blowing through the islands.

It’s a beautiful thing to behold. Unfortunately, if you want to live here, you have to remember the price of paradise. Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the United States.

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities, however. The state government in Hawaii recognizes that the economy can’t survive off of tourism and the American military alone. The state is making a big push towards entrepreneurship.

Staring a business in Hawaii still takes a bit of know-how, since it operates a little differently from states on the mainland. Read on to learn how you can start a business in Hawaii that’s successful.

What’s Your Business?

Your business really starts with an idea. Your idea can be anything from starting a surf rental business in Kailua to starting an import business. You can start a blog about living in Hawaii and work from home. There’s really no limit to what you can do.

You’ll need to write down your brilliant idea and start to think things out. Think about how you’ll monetize your business. For example, with your blog, will you sell products or have the site be ad-supported or both?

This is also a good time to see who else is doing what you’re planning to do.  Dig through your competition and note what they do well, what you think they’re missing, and how can you do the same thing better or differently.

Who Is Your Target Market?

Once you know what your business is and you have an idea as to how you’ll make money, you have to figure out your target market.

Now, just because you live on an island doesn’t mean that everyone will find your business. In Hawaii, there are many different cultures

That’s what makes living there so special. All of these cultures blend to create a fantastic society. That being said, each culture will differ in how you communicate with them. Locals will respond to different messages than tourists.

Men will respond to different things than women. Younger folks will have a different view than older folks. What this means for you is that you need to nail down who you’re targeting in your business.

You want to know demographic information like gender, age, where they live, and income. You also want to know what their pain points are. In other words, what problems do they have that you can solve?

When you dig deep into your target market, it makes it much easier to reach them when you’re ready to promote the business.

Write Your Business Plan

Yes, you need a business plan. Businesses that have a plan are more likely to be successful than ones that don’t have a plan. Your job is to make sure that your business is successful, so you really can’t skip this step.

In this step, you’ll document what your business is about, the executive team of the business, the business structure, and the financials of the business.

The financials are going to be the most important part because this is where you demonstrate how your business will be profitable. You’ll have to think through all of the startup and operating expenses and then project your sales for the first few years.

Get Your Team Together

In business, you’ll quickly learn that you can’t do everything yourself. You’re not an expert in the law, accounting, human resources, or information technology.

You’ll need to have a team around you that can guide you to make smart decisions about your business. For example, you may need to rely on an expert in trademark and patent law, such as this law firm.

You’ll definitely need the expertise of an accountant to ensure that your books are set up correctly right from the start. They may recommend software like QuickBooks that can make accounting and payroll that much easier.

Register Your Business

It’s time to make your business a real business. You’ll need to decide if you’re going to be an LLC or sole-proprietor or a corporation.

An LLC is usually a smart move because you protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or other legal issues.

It’s pretty easy to file as an LLC, as you need to have articles of incorporation and file a $50 fee. Once you decide what your business structure is going to be, you can register your business with the

Hawaii Licenses and Taxes

Depending on the type of business you have and the location of your operation, you may need to apply for additional licenses to operate.

For example, if you’re starting an importing business where plants or livestock are involved, you’ll need to register with the Department of Agriculture.

You’re going to need to apply for a GET or General Excise Tax License for $20. This is a must for all businesses in Hawaii.

You may have additional licenses and tax obligations depending on which county you operate in. This is why having a team of experts is critical to starting a business in Hawaii.

You’ll also need to be in compliance with the tax authorities. You have to show that you’re in compliance if you plan on working with state or local governments.

Starting a Business in Hawaii Is a Dream Come True

There’s nothing like living in Hawaii and owning a business there. When you’re starting a business in Hawaii, you’ll quickly learn that it’s nothing like starting a business on the mainland.

The similarities are that you need to have a business plan and know your target market. The taxes, licensing, and registration of the business will differ, which is why you want to have a team of experts in place to help you.

Want more information on starting a business? Be sure to check out the business forms on this site, so you’ll have everything you need to get started.