by Lee Hogan
Posted 6/26/2014 03:50 pm
Updated 3 weeks ago
First-time entrepreneurs in Arkansas have a new online tool that was constructed to help them navigate the process of opening a business.
The Arkansas Secretary of State has partnered with the Information Network of Arkansas to launch a website, DreamItDoItArkansas.com, to make potential business owners aware of the requirements to be met before opening a business. The site launched Wednesday.
When entrepreneurs come to the site, they are asked five questions. Based on the answers, the website creates a curated summary of government requirements — at the federal, state and local levels — for starting a business, including licenses, permits and tax obligations.
"Our goal with this website is to make the process easier for anyone who is thinking of starting a business in Arkansas," Mark Martin, secretary of state, said in a news release. "Our vision for DreamItDoItArkansas.com is to streamline interactions between all Arkansas businesses and government agencies."
Pointing Entrepreneurs in the Right Direction
The conversation for this type of site began about a year into Martin's term and after seeing what other states had done, according to Chief Deputy Secretary of State Doug Matayo.
The goal was to find a way to communicate with the business community, especially in the small business realm where confusion — on issues like the proper steps to take and what regulatory bodies to inform — is seen more often, Matayo said.
"What we've tried to do is narrow that down to these series of questions on the site to try and make it transparent, open and fairly easy for the average Arkansan to figure out, 'okay, these are the people I need to talk to, this is the process I need to go through.'"
The site is also hoped to curb non-compliance issues.
"Most businesses, small business owners especially, if they are non-compliant in some way, it's usually because they just don't know they are non-compliant," Matayo said. "We're trying to help them to be compliant.
"It's good for them. They don't have to look over their shoulder, they don't get a surprise tax, fee or fine, and they can live easy and know they did it right," he said.
The site itself looks much different than other government sites, which Matayo said was planned.
"We wanted this to be different," he said. "We wanted it to feel more private sector and more innovative."
A One-Stop Shop
Several other states have already created one-stop sites for entrepreneurs that brings together the regulatory and filing processes under one domain.
Matayo said it's a collaboration that has been seen between agencies in many states across the country.
"It's time to begin that conversation [in Arkansas], and we think this could be a great first step toward that," he said.
Matayo said he's confident Arkansas will accomplish this type of site for entrepreneurs one day, and believes that day could come sooner rather than later if the stars align. There is no doubt that INA could complete the one-stop site for Arkansas entrepreneurs, Matayo said, but legislative backing is needed first.
"It's definitely an initiative we would want to get behind," he said. "Hopefully, the governor, whomever that may be, would be enthusiastic about its as well. I think it could happen fairly quickly and happen in a legislative session because so many other states have done it."
In the meantime, Matayo said the work at hand includes monitoring web traffic, conducting internal benchmarks and making sure there are no major problems with the site.
Arkansas Venture Center Contest
In a promotion for the site launch, Arkansas.gov is giving entrepreneurs a chance to win an Arkansas Venture Center membership through a social media photo challenge. Through July 9, entrepreneurs are asked to share startup advice, take a selfie and post the photo and advice to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #DreamItDoItArkansas. For more on the contest, click here.
Check out a promotional video created for the site below.