10 STEPS TO BECOMING A RESIDENTIAL CONTRACTOR IN TULSA, OKLAHOMA

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DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A CONTRACTOR?

Many people like you have visions and good ideas for a business. While imagining a business can be super exciting, really launching it can be a challenge. Where do I begin? Who can I tell about this idea without fears of someone ripping off my idea? How much capital do I need to launch? There are many questions you may be uncertain about, but one thing is certain about launching a business. You will experience ups and downs and challenges. Are you ready for those hurdles? Let’s go.

YOU CAN BECOME A GENERAL OR TRADE CONTRACTOR IN TULSA, OKLAHOMA!

Do you want to become a contractor and be involved in building or improving 1,256 homes in Tulsa for Black families in the next ten years? Our door is wide open to the many contractors, funders, and families who will work together toward this vision of 1256 Movement.

Depending on the type of business, you will need certain licensing or no licensing. The good news about becoming a general contractor in Oklahoma is that you do not need to have a specific license if you live and work in the state. If, however, you want to become an inspector, architect, plumber, HVAC, roofer, or electrician, you’ll need specific training and licensing.

In this post, we cover starting a business as a general contractor for residential new and remodel construction in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If you are going to do ethical, successful, and trusted business in Tulsa, you need to register with the city as a contractor. This will allow you to “pull permits,” which is construction lingo for applying for new construction, remodel, and other building permits in the city.


1. GET EXPERT LEGAL AND FINANCIAL ADVICE

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There are many resources for learning how to succeed in business in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1256 Movement recommends you seek advice of experts such as licensed accountants or certified public accountants (CPAs), lawyers, and others who are qualified to help small business owners. In addition to the information provided, you may also need to obtain more information, make key decisions, file paperwork in a different order from what is stated, or simultaneously.

Legal Aid provides free legal services. Whether you qualify or not, Legal Aid can help direct you to legal services that fit your needs.

The information provided by 1256 Movement is not legal or mandatory advice. This disclaimer has been modeled from a similar disclaimer on the Oklahoma Commerce web site.


2. NAME YOUR BUSINESS

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According to the Secretary of State for Oklahoma, you first need a name for your business. From the Secretary of State (SOS) web site, “Perform a name availability search to see if your business name is available. This may be done electronically. If your business name is available and you are still not ready to register the business, you may reserve your business name for up to 60 days by filing a name reservation. For additional information, please contact us at (405) 521-3912.”

You can also do a web search for the name you are considering by typing the name in quote marks (“). For example, if you want to title your company, “Building Neighborhoods” then type this into a web browser search: “Building Neighborhoods” Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If there is a business already by that name in the state or city, consider another name for your business. If there is no other business by the name you are choosing, you may register the name with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma and begin the process of starting a business by that name in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The name you choose is important because it becomes the face of the company, briefly describes what you do, and to some extent is the first step toward success or failure of your company.


3. DECIDE THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS

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The Secretary of State of Oklahoma site has a guide to organizational structures. The Oklahoma Tax Commission has important information related to possible organizational structures within the state.

You may operate your business or organization under any one of several organizational structures. Each type of structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.

The Secretary of State of Oklahoma web site describes each type of business structure, including Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, A Corporation, and Limited Liability Company.

A good practice is to contact a business incubator to determine which form is most suitable for your business or organization. 1256 Movement recommends you contact us, Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce (BWSCC), or Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC). 1256 Movement, BWSCC, and TEDC are successfully developing new entrepreneurs in Tulsa and can help with many of the processes described in this post.

While some of us may find these legal structures confusing, how you structure your business is important. Be sure to discuss what is best for your type of company with a financial or legal expert. There are also online sources for legal help, and there are organizations in Tulsa that provide legal assistance for start up companies.


4. FILE YOUR BUSINESS WITH OKLAHOMA SECRETARY OF STATE

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After naming your business and determining the type of business structure you want, you must register your business with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma. This is a longer process than simply reserving the name. You will need to submit documents and fees in this process. The Secretary of State web site is the source of electronic or paper forms you can print and fill out.

This process is not always simple and quick. Sometimes you may come to a line when filing electronically or when filling out a paper form that you do not know how to answer. You may ask for help with the forms by contacting the office of the Secretary of State–that’s what they are there for.

Be sure to insist that they help you because they are government officials put in this position in order to promote business in the state. Here is the page of help numbers, FAQ, email addresses, and other resources: https://www.sos.ok.gov/feedback/contact.aspx.

According to the Oklahoma Commerce Department, “The sale of tangible products or material items to customers in Oklahoma involves the collection of sales taxes.” Contact Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC), http://www.tax.ok.gov, 405-521-3160, to learn if you will need to set up a tax withholding account for your business.


5. GET AN EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (EIN) FROM THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

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Determine if you want or need a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) by visiting the Internal Revenue Service EIN page.

If your business is going to have employees, there are additional registrations and filings that will be required. They are the following:

You will need to set up a withholding account for income taxes through the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC). The OTC can be reached at (405) 521-3160 or utilize the OTC Online Registration Service.

You will need to set up an account for employees’ unemployment taxes through the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC). The OESC can be reached at (405) 557-7100 or www.oesc.ok.gov.

If you do not have a private workers compensation insurance policy, contact CompSource Oklahoma at 405/232-7663 or 800/347-3863 or www.compsourceok.com.


6. OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT

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A bank is not simply a place to deposit and withdraw money. A financial institution can be one of your business partners in helping you with funding for your business.

The big step in opening an account is to go to the bank and talk to a commercial account specialist who will advise you about the accounts that best work for you. A best practice is to learn what 2-3 banks offer and open your account after comparing the features of each bank that work best for you. Do you trust the person or bank? Do you have a good feeling when you enter the bank? Does the bank want to work with you on business funding? Is the account costly or are there ways to avoid high monthly fees?

Here are financial institutions that 1256 Movement has contacted or knows about that serve North Tulsa (from Archer St. going North), listed in reverse Alphabetical order. Not all of these banks or financial institutions come up in bank, mortgage, or credit union searches and therefore may not appear on the map image. Source: Google Maps. Banks in or serving Greenwood and North Tulsa include but may not be limited to the following: Vast Bank, TTCU, Spirit Bank, Prosperity Bank, Gateway Mortgage, Bank of Oklahoma, Bank of America, American Heritage Bank, Arvest.

1256 Movement promotes banks in this post that have located in and serve the North Tulsa community. If there are financial institutions we have left out, we encourage you to inform us and we will add them to this post. You can contact us at info@1256movement.org.

Here’s a screenshot search of “banks Tulsa.” This search map of “banks Tulsa” reveals bank upon bank in central and south Tulsa and fewer banks East and West and fewest in North Tulsa. (Note: this is an image but do the search and zoom in closer and more banks appear). Source: Google Maps.

7. EARN FUNDING WITH FINANCIAL FUNDAMENTALS

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Whether you are raising money from personal savings, a family member, friend, bank, venture capitalist, or business partner, be sure of one thing: the person or entity you raise money from will not charge you exorbitant interest or harm you if you cannot pay the money back on time! At the same time, if you are going to borrow money, have a plan for paying back and understand the terms.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, “Financial factors and projections in starting a small business are very important. Assistance from other private business professionals may be required.

Respected financial institutions require reporting of capital needed, estimates and actual of costs, and revenues. To learn more about how to prepare these documents, contact Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC), www.oksbdc.org; Women’s Business Center (WBC), www.reiwbc.org and Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) chapter in Tulsa, www.tulsa.score.org. For formerly justice involved persons, check out D’Marria Monday’s https://www.facebook.com/blockbuilerz.org/.

For more on financials and taxes in business, this document from the Department of Commerce is very helpful.


8. GET INSURANCE

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You will need to show proof of liability insurance and possibly workman’s compensation insurance when registering with the City of Tulsa as a contractor.

This article in the Daily Oklahoman is a good summary of insurance you may need to acquire for your business.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) web site, “The protections you get from choosing a business structure like a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation typically only protect your personal property from lawsuits, and even that protection is limited.

Business insurance can fill in the gaps to make sure both your personal assets and your business assets are fully protected from unexpected catastrophes.

In some instances, you might be legally required to purchase certain types of business insurance.

The federal government requires every business with employees to have workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.

Some states also require additional insurance. Laws requiring insurance vary by state, so visit your state’s website to find out the requirements for your business.” The following chart is from this web page of the SBA.

Table Source: SBA

9. REGISTER WITH CITY OF TULSA AS A CONTRACTOR

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Fill out a Contractor Registration form. This is not technically a license but a step toward being in the City of Tulsa permitting system in order to pull permits for new construction or remodels.

In accordance with city ordinances and/or state laws in Oklahoma, you may need specific licenses and permits to operate various types of businesses. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has provided a Business Licensing and Operating Requirements page which will help guide you through the requirements.

Another option is to visit the City of Tulsa Planning & Development Department, 175 East 2nd St, Suite 455. Tulsa, OK 74103. Call ahead and ask what documents or fees you need to file, 918-596-1579.


10. REQUEST PERMITS AND INSPECTIONS

At the time of this posting, the City of Tulsa has been attacked by ransomware. The result of this for contractors is that permits previously applied for online at the City of Tulsa Permit Center, have been for a time only available by applying in person at City Hall.

The Permit Center is located on the 4th Floor of City Hall, 175 East 2nd St. Public hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The City of Tulsa has this web site for applying for permits. This site address may change when the city recovers from the ransomware attack.

The process to apply for permits is detailed in this link.

The City of Tulsa has a process whereby some trade contractors may bid for city contracts and do certified work such as water taps for plumbers. This is called an IDP Permit and you can apply for it here.

The IDP permit is one of the first steps toward getting private contracts to build public infrastructure. See this page for full details about the process of getting into the game.

The City of Tulsa also has a program in which contractors can do work to improve neighborhoods through remodeling homes. The program is called Working in Neighborhoods (WIN). The WIN Application is here.

Permits and inspections by the City of Tulsa are required for certain kinds of contracting work. To request inspections by the City of Tulsa, refer to this page.


GETTING TO WORK DEVELOPING CONTRACTORS

The work you do as a contractor will be difficult but rewarding. There will be challenges along the way. 1256 Movement can help you get laser focused on becoming a successful General Contractor or Trade Contractor. 1256 Movement works closely with aspiring and established Black contractors in order to develop more and improved quality, affordable housing ownership for Black families in Tulsa.

1256 Movement builds coalitions with home owners, potential home owners, contractors, funders, realtors by paying $10,000 for each new residential construction or remodel. We do this in part through these new and established Black contractors who work with Black families to build or improve their homes.

This is the big WHY behind 1256 Movement doing contractor development and the reason for this post that details how to become a contractor in Tulsa.

Greg Taylor
Greg Taylor

These resources and contractor start up process is developed by Greg Taylor, general contractor with Taylor Homes in Bartlesville/Tulsa and President of 1256 Movement. Sources also include City of Tulsa and state officials. Secretary of State of Oklahoma web site, Oklahoma Department of Commerce

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