Starting Your Business in Hawaii | A Step-by-Step Guide

Start a Business in Hawaii

If you want to start an LLC in Hawaii, there are numerous factors to consider. Starting your own business is one of the most exciting and profitable things you can do in Hawaii. But where do you start? Follow our comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in Hawaii. We will assist you in removing doubt from the process and investigate your success chances. It will begin with defining your business idea and progress to establishing, launching, and expanding your business. Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you every step of the way!

What Business to Start in Hawaii?

If you’re looking to start a business in Hawaii, consider starting a limited liability company (LLC). LLCs offer personal liability protection for their owners while also providing the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Beyond that, here is the list of businesses to consider in Hawaii.

  1. Agriculture
  2. Boutique Apparel
  3. Information Technology
  4. Homestay Services and Vacation Rentals
  5. Travel Agency

Whatever business you choose to start, it’s important to conduct thorough market research and create a solid business plan before diving in. We reviewed some of the Best LLC Services and provided features as an add-on with their packages for you to check out.

LLC Service

Rating & Pricing

Top Features

Learn More

#1 Recommendation

$0 + State fee

  • Free LLC Formation

  • Legal Support

  • Highly Reputed Company

$299 + State fee

  • Single LLC formation package

  • Flat price for all services

  • Legal consultation

Starting a business can be a challenging but highly rewarding endeavor. By taking the time to research and plan, you can increase your chances of success. Whether you choose to form a corporation or start an LLC in Hawaii, it’s important to surround yourself with a strong team that will guide you. Don’t let fear hold you back, take that first step towards turning your business dreams into a reality.


How to Start a Business in Hawaii?

To form a business in Hawaii, you must follow a few steps that include creating a business plan, choosing a business entity type, determining your business costs, naming your business, registering a business, and lastly, marketing your business.

Please continue reading to learn more about the overall procedure and what new small business owners should keep in mind as they complete each step.

Step 1: Creating a Business Plan

When developing a business plan, many factors should be considered during the decision-making process. Your business plan in Hawaii serves as a road map for your company’s success.

A business plan should take into account the specific goals of your company. You should know the product or service you will provide in Hawaii. A well-thought-out business plan is essential for determining how your company will make a profit. If the purpose of the business plan is ambiguous and unrelated to the service you provide, it will impact the business you are forming. Make sure your business goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Also, researching your competitors’ services will help you determine your strategy for your state business. Finally, you should consider your company’s funding.

With this article’s assistance, you can better comprehend your business’s essential components and success strategy. You can apply for Hawaii Small Business Loans from banks and investor funding to help support your company in Hawaii.

Once you have the entire plan in your hands, you can work on the legal framework of your company. Legally, you can form an LLC for your ideal business.

Step 2: Choose a Business Entity in Hawaii

Selecting a business entity for your Hawaii company. When starting your own business, you must choose a business structure. How well your personal assets are secured, how much tax you pay, and how much paperwork you have to deal with will all be significantly impacted by the type of corporate entity you choose. Consider setting up a corporation, LLC, LLP, or sole proprietorship as your business entity in Hawaii.

Sole Proprietorships

Consider a sole proprietorship if you want to start a business in Hawaii by yourself. A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure in which a single individual owns and operates the entire business. The owner and the business are considered the same legal entity in a sole proprietorship. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business, meaning that the owner has complete control over the business operations, profits, and losses.

Sole proprietorships are best suited for Hawaii small businesses with low risks and for individuals who want to maintain complete control over their business without the complexities of establishing a separate legal entity.

Limited Liability Company

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure that combines features of both partnerships and corporations, offering limited liability protection to its owners (called members) while allowing flexibility in management and taxation. An LLC is a separate legal entity from its owners, meaning the members are not personally liable for the business’s debts, obligations, or liabilities.

It is a popular choice for small to medium-sized businesses that want the liability protection of a corporation while maintaining management flexibility and simpler tax treatment. It’s essential to consult with a legal or financial professional to determine if an LLC is the best choice for your specific business situation.

Limited Liability Partnership

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is comparable to an LLC. However, it is usually used by licensed business professionals like attorneys or accountants. A partnership agreement is necessary for this kind of business entity. You can form an LLP in Hawaii if you are planning to.


Forming a Corporation in Hawaii reduces your personal liability for business debts as an LLC does. A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners, known as shareholders. It is created under the laws of the state it is incorporated in and is considered a separate “person” under the law. The corporation can enter into contracts, own property, sue and be sued, and pay taxes separately from its owners.

A corporation can be taxed as an S-corporation (S-Corp) or a C-corporation (C-Corp). If a small corporation satisfies certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards, then S-corporation status is available, providing pass-through taxation. However, most larger businesses and startups seeking venture financing are taxed as C-corps.

To choose the right business structure in Hawaii, consider personal liability protection, taxation, management flexibility, administrative requirements, and setup costs. Consult a legal or financial professional to help you make the best decision.

Recommended: Incorporating a business has never been easier that’s why Legalzoom’s corporation formation provide a comprehensive and streamlined approach for your business. Whether you have plans to crowdfund or go public, get help from LegalZoom every step of the way. We recommend using –

LegalZoom Starts at $149 + filing fees

Step 3: Determine your Hawaii Business Cost

In Hawaii, you should determine the cost of your business. You should consider paying the Articles of Organization fee, business licenses fee, office supplies and equipment, payroll, rent, utilities, transportation, and taxes.

Usually, filing an initial Hawaii Articles of Organization fee costs $50, while the LLC annual fee costs $12.50 in Hawaii. In terms of filing Hawaii Articles of Incorporation, the costs usually range up to $50 for filing online, by mail, fax, or by email.

If forming an LLC is your ideal business, consider knowing the LLC Cost in Hawaii.

Step 4: Name your Business in Hawaii

Naming your business doesn’t take a lot of time. With the help of Hawaii Business Name Search, you can acquire a name for your business. If you form an LLC in Hawaii, you must follow the below rules while naming your business-

  • The name should not be confused with a government entity.
  • The name should be unique.
  • The name should be available to use.
  • Any other business does not use the name.
  • The new name must include “LLC” if it is a limited liability company.

In Hawaii, if you do not wish to file your business right away but want to hold the name that you have decided on, then you can reserve your business name. You must file a name reservation application in the Hawaii Secretary of State to keep the name.

If the business name is available, you may choose to reserve it for a specific period of 120 days. The online name reservation fee is $10 and the mail name reservation fee is $10. If your business plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done in several methods, online, fax, email, by mail, or in-person, which you can file in Hawaii Secretary of State. You can check out how to file a DBA in Hawaii for clearer understanding.

Recommended: Unlock your business’s full potential with LegalZoom’s DBA service, providing a hassle-free experience that allows you to focus on what matters most – turning your passion into profit. We recommend –

LegalZoom – Starts at $99 + filing fees

Step 5: Register Hawaii Business

To register a business in Hawaii, you need to file it with the Hawaii Secretary of State. Before that, you must have a Hawaii Resident Agent for your business. The Resident Agent is a person who is responsible for receiving important legal documents on your behalf.

You can serve as your own Resident Agent, or you can appoint a friend or family member, or you can check the Best Resident Agent Services in Hawaii.

Apply For Articles of Organization

After you have a Resident Agent, you need to file the Hawaii Articles of Organization, if you want to have an LLC structure, or you need to file the Hawaii Articles of Incorporation if you want to have a Corporation.

Request For an EIN

In addition to the paperwork, your Resident Agent should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Hawaii. An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your professional corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website. You can obtain the EIN for free from the IRS.

The application of an EIN in Hawaii can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone (for International Applicants)– International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

After you have your EIN number, you can benefit in several ways. It will give your LLC the absolute advantage necessary to operate at full capacity without encountering legal or judicial issues.

Recommended: Professional services have the EIN included in their LLC formation package. We recommend using –

LegalZoom($0 + State Fee for LLC formation)

Step 6: Apply for Business License and Permit

Business licenses and operating permits are necessary to run any business in Hawaii. Before launching your new business, request any required business license or permission. Most Hawaii businesses need licenses or permits to operate. Federal, state, and local governments may all require businesses to have licenses and permits. The business license fee depends on the type of license you are applying for. It can start from $25 till going up to $100+. However, in Hawaii, the business license fee ranges from $50 – $300.

Step 7: Obtain a Bank Account

Your business dealings in Hawaii might be simpler with a US business bank account because it boosts your company’s legitimacy and liquidity. Opening a separate bank account for your Hawaii business is essential for maintaining a clear separation between your personal and business finances.

You can check out the Best Banks in Hawaii, which offers the best fees, services, and convenience for your business needs.

Step 8: Market your Business in Hawaii

Now that your Hawaii business is registered, you can market it with an ideal marketing plan. An ideal marketing plan can help a start-up business to become known. Making a comprehensive social media network like META, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube falls within this category. While creating an SEO campaign for your company website, you may also look at specialized communities on Facebook and LinkedIn.


What are some of the industries that Hawaii is well-known for?
The major industries in Hawaii include tourism, agriculture, and real estate.
What is the cost of starting a business in Hawaii?
That depends on the type of business you wish to start. Some businesses require more capital investment than others.
Are there any financial incentives available to start a business in Hawaii?
Yes, there are some financial incentives available, such as tax credits, loans, and grants.
What are the legal requirements to start a business in Hawaii?
To start a business in Hawaii, you will need to register your business with the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
What is the easiest way to register a business in Hawaii?
The easiest way is to register your business online through the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs business registration system.
Do I need to have a physical office in Hawaii to start a business there?
No, you don’t need to have a physical office in Hawaii to start a business there.
How long does it take to start a business in Hawaii?
The time it takes depends on the nature of your business, and the time it takes to fulfill all the legal requirements.
If I’m starting a business in Hawaii, do I need a business plan?
Yes, having a business plan is essential if you intend to start a successful business in Hawaii.
What are the key elements of a business plan?
A business plan usually contains a description of your business, market analysis, financial projections, marketing plan, and management strategy.
Can I get a Hawaii business license if I have a criminal record?
Yes, however, it depends on the details of your criminal record and the nature of the business you would like to operate in Hawaii.
What kind of insurance do I need to obtain when starting a business in Hawaii?
It depends on the nature of your business. You may need liability insurance, property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and others.
Do I need to have employees to start a business in Hawaii?
No, you don’t need to have employees to start a business in Hawaii, but you will need to familiarize yourself with the labor laws in Hawaii if you do hire any employees.
What kind of taxes will I need to pay if I start a business in Hawaii?
You will likely need to pay state taxes such as sales tax, income tax, and general excise tax.
What is the Hawaii excise tax, and who does it apply to?
The Hawaii excise tax is levied on businesses engaged in selling tangible personal property or rendering services.
Can I apply for small business grants in Hawaii?
Yes, you can apply for small business grants in Hawaii, but you will need to meet specific qualifications.
How do I find out if I qualify for Hawaii small business grants?
You can review and research the requirements and qualifications on applicable government websites.
What is the process to renew my business license in Hawaii?
Renewals occur Annually, Business license re-application is now integrated within the annual report filing process and it can be done online.
Who do I consult to learn more about complying with workplace safety regulations when starting a business in Hawaii?
Contact Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health at (808)-586-9100.
What is the cost of workers’ compensation in Hawaii?
The cost of workers’ compensation insurance depends on the nature of your business, but premiums are most often based on payroll.
What steps do I need to take to buy an existing business in Hawaii?
Consider hiring a business broker to find listings, conduct due diligence on the existing business, and negotiate short and long term staying and promises in writing(preferably in purchase agreement.
How do I set up a payment system for my business in Hawaii?
Setting up a merchant account to process payments help accomplish conducting transactions effectively.
What are the tips to stay compliant with Hawaii business taxes?
Keeping reconciled bookkeepping records is super vital for staying compliant the. Retain knowledgeable payment services such as PEOs or HR companies will be beneficial
Can noncitizens establish businesses in Hawaii?
Yes, anyone, including non-citizens, can establish businesses in Hawaii.
Is there a particular structure that Hawaii business owners are required to follow?
Generally, sole props qualifyi Limited Liability Company(Corporations, single or enterprise establishments can be established similarly as to mainland-US but with applicable fines.
Where can I startup resources specifically for Hawaii small business?
Check with Hawaii Small Business Resource Center, Hawaii Small Business Administration and similar ones for any possible benefits.
Do I need a specific license or certification to own and operate a restaurant in Hawaii?
Yes, obtain at a minimum annual food safety certification by completing ServSafe or Hawaii approved certification course.
Which Hawaii Government agency helps low-income individuals launch their businesses come to fruition?
Check with the Hawaii County Native Hawaiian Revolving loan Fund. Others can check services under Federal SBA’s ‘division solely focus in supporting entrepreneurs out of poverty which contains various services and some grants.
What is required to legally start a business in Hawaii?
In order to legally start a business in Hawaii, you will need to form a legal business entity with the state.
What are the options for forming a legal business in Hawaii?
The options for forming a legal business in Hawaii include forming a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.
How much does it cost to register a business in Hawaii?
The cost of registering a business in Hawaii varies based on the type of business entity you choose to form, but fees can range from $50 to $500.
Do I need to obtain any special permits or licenses to start a business in Hawaii?
Depending on the type of business you plan to start, you may need to obtain special permits or licenses from the state or local government in Hawaii.
Can I start a business in Hawaii if I don’t live there?
Yes, you can start a business in Hawaii even if you don’t live there. However, you will need to designate a registered agent who lives in Hawaii to receive official legal documents for your business.
Do I need to pay any taxes on my business income in Hawaii?
Yes, you will need to pay state and federal taxes on your business income if you do business in Hawaii.
Are there any special tax incentives available for businesses in Hawaii?
Yes, there are a variety of tax incentives and business development programs available in Hawaii to help attract and support new businesses.
Where can I find resources to help me start a business in Hawaii?
The Hawaii state government offers a variety of resources for small business owners, including counseling, networking opportunities, and funding programs.
Are there any business incubators or coworking spaces in Hawaii?
Yes, there are several business incubators and coworking spaces in Hawaii, particularly on the island of Oahu.
How do I choose the right business location in Hawaii?
When selecting a business location in Hawaii, you should consider factors such as accessibility, proximity to clients, local competition, and business taxes.
What industries are most popular for businesses in Hawaii?
The most popular industries for businesses in Hawaii include tourism, healthcare, renewable energy, and technology.
Are there any unique cultural considerations to keep in mind when doing business in Hawaii?
Yes, Hawaii has a rich cultural heritage that should be taken into account when conducting business, including respecting native traditions and practices.
What are the biggest challenges facing businesses in Hawaii?
Some of the biggest challenges facing businesses in Hawaii include a high cost of living, limited land availability, and an isolation from mainland markets.
Can I access funding or investment opportunities for my Hawaii-based business?
Yes, there are a variety of funding and investment opportunities available for businesses in Hawaii, including angel investors, venture capital funds, and crowdfunding platforms.
Is there a large pool of highly skilled workers available in Hawaii?
Hawaii has a smaller overall population than many other states, but there is a highly skilled workforce in industries such as healthcare, hospitality, and technology.
Are there any incentives for hiring local employees in Hawaii?
Yes, Hawaii offers several incentives and resources for local businesses to hire and train local residents.
What is the Hawaii State Department of Taxation?
The Hawaii State Department of Taxation is responsible for collecting and administering state and local taxes, including business taxes, in Hawaii.
What permits or licenses do I need to open a retail business in Hawaii?
Depending on the type of retail business you plan to open in Hawaii, you may need to obtain permits or licenses for activities such as food service, alcohol service, and health and safety compliance.
What types of insurance do I need for my business in Hawaii?
You will need to obtain a variety of insurances to protect your business in Hawaii, including liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, and property insurance.
How do I find potential suppliers or partners in Hawaii?
One way to find potential suppliers or partners in Hawaii is through networking and attending industry events on the islands.
What resources are available to help me navigate permitting and zoning requirements for my Hawaii-based business?
The State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism can provide assistance in securing the proper permits and navigating zoning requirements.
What is the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation?
The Hawaii Technology Development Corporation is a state agency focused on economic development by advancing innovation, entrepreneurship, and new technologies.
What are the benefits of incorporating my business in Hawaii?
Some of the benefits of incorporating your business in Hawaii include enhanced liability protection, the ability to raise capital more easily, and added credibility with customers and suppliers.
Can I operate a home-based business in Hawaii?
Yes, you can operate a home-based business in Hawaii as long as you comply with local zoning and business permitting requirements.
What is the Hawaii Business Express portal?
The Hawaii Business Express portal is a one-stop-shop for registering a business in Hawaii, obtaining permits and licenses, and accessing useful business resources.
What types of financing options are available for Hawaii-based businesses?
Financing options for Hawaii-based businesses include bank loans, small business administration loans, grant programs, and business development opportunities.
How do I conduct market research for my business in Hawaii?
You can conduct market research for your Hawaii-based business through online resources, competitor analysis, surveys, and customer feedback.
Are there any restrictions on owning a business as a non-US citizen in Hawaii?
Non-US citizens can own and operate a business in Hawaii as long as they follow all local and federal regulations and obtain appropriate visa requirements.

Also Read

Why You Should Start Business in Hawaii

One of the most appealing aspects of doing business in Hawaii is the unique cultural landscape that can enrich your professional endeavors. With its rich history and diverse population, Hawaii offers a vibrant and dynamic environment that can inspire creativity and innovation. By immersing yourself in this cultural melting pot, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target market and identify opportunities for business growth that you may not have considered in more traditional settings.

Additionally, Hawaii’s strategic location in the Pacific Ocean can open up a world of possibilities for expanding your business internationally. With its close proximity to Asia and other key global markets, Hawaii serves as a gateway to new opportunities for trade and collaboration. By establishing a presence in this strategic location, you can position your business for greater success on the global stage and tap into a diverse array of markets and consumers.

Furthermore, Hawaii offers a wealth of natural resources and sustainable practices that can benefit your business in myriad ways. From renewable energy sources to locally sourced materials, Hawaii is committed to eco-friendly and sustainable practices that can enhance your brand image and attract environmentally conscious consumers. By aligning your business with Hawaii’s commitment to sustainability, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and appeal to a growing market of eco-conscious consumers.

Beyond its cultural and strategic advantages, Hawaii also boasts a strong and robust support network for entrepreneurs and business owners. From government agencies to industry associations, Hawaii offers a range of resources and programs designed to help you succeed in growing your business. Whether you need assistance with funding, marketing, or business development, there are numerous organizations and opportunities available to support your journey towards success.

Finally, the quality of life in Hawaii is unrivaled, offering a unique work-life balance that can enhance your overall wellbeing and happiness. With its beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, and laid-back lifestyle, Hawaii provides a peaceful and rejuvenating environment that can inspire you to do your best work and achieve your highest potential. By choosing to start your business in Hawaii, you can enjoy the benefits of living and working in paradise while pursuing your professional ambitions.

In conclusion, Hawaii offers a wealth of advantages for entrepreneurs and innovators seeking to launch and grow successful businesses. From its vibrant cultural landscape and strategic location to its commitment to sustainability and robust support network, Hawaii provides a compelling and advantageous environment for business success. By choosing to start your business in Hawaii, you can take advantage of all that the Aloha State has to offer and position yourself for sustained growth and prosperity. So why wait? It’s time to say “Aloha” to a new era of entrepreneurial success in Hawaii.


Starting a business in Hawaii has unique advantages and challenges since it offers a large and diverse market, access to skilled talent, and numerous networking opportunities, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs. However, business owners must also contend with a high cost of living, intense competition, and potentially complex regulations.

Ultimately, whether starting a business in Hawaii is the right decision depends on the entrepreneur’s specific needs, goals, and industry. It is crucial to conduct thorough research and consider factors such as taxes, regulations, workforce availability, and target market when choosing a location for a new business. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions and set themselves up for success in the competitive Hawaii business landscape.

Leave a Comment