Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy and have been for hundreds of years. Most businesses that are started begin with someone’s dream, their lifelong ambition to do something they are passionate about, which then evolves into a full-fledged small business.

Montana is certainly familiar with small businesses, despite the state not having as many small businesses as most other states, Montana unquestionably knows exactly what it takes to operate successful businesses, which is reflected in the state’s pro-business approach and stable economy.

The Big Sky state is perhaps not the biggest contributor to the United States’ ever-growing economy, however, Montana’s contributions should not be undermined. Gross Domestic Product is only one metric used to determine economic strength, also, when you consider Montana, and the state’s business climate, it is important to understand the state has the 5th smallest population out of all 50 states.

So, when you put all of that to one side, you are left with not only an aesthetically beautiful state that encourages an active and healthy lifestyle, with a somewhat underappreciated business environment, boasting a fantastic education system, natural resources, supportive local communities, great infrastructure, and business-friendly taxes!

Number of Small Businesses in Montana

So, how many small businesses are there in Montana? There are 123,419 small businesses in Montana according to the latest figures (2020) from the SBA.

It is not just Americans and Montanans starting small businesses in Montana; the state also attracts international entrepreneurs and foreign families, albeit not many. There are 1,181 immigrant entrepreneurs in Montana accounting for 1% of all self-employed Montana residents.

The following bar graph shows the number of small businesses in Montana in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

How many small businesses are there in Montana

Of the 123,419 small businesses in Montana in 2020, there is a wide array of different enterprises from small, one-person sole proprietorships or LLCs to much larger businesses with several hundred employees. If you want to join the 123,000-plus small businesses in Montana, it is fairly easy to register a business in Montana.

To be a small business in Montana, you have to qualify as one. So, to operate as a small business in Montana, you must own a company with less than 500 employees.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the number of small businesses in Montana by dissecting the state’s top industries, small business owners, employees, and more!

Latest Small Businesses Statistics in Montana

  • Small businesses equate to over 99.3% of all businesses in Montana.
  • There are 123,419 small business employees in Montana, which is 65.3% of the states’ employees.
  • In 2019, Small Businesses in Montana added 3,772 new jobs!
  • Small businesses employing 20 or fewer employees created the most job gains!
  • There are 6,411 self-employed minorities in Montana demonstrating the diversity in the state.
  • International trade and exports in Montana are strong, which is showcased by the 1,210 small business exporters.
  • There are more construction firm small businesses in Montana than any other type – 17,956.
  • Professional, scientific & technical services firms make up the 2nd largest number of small businesses in Montana – 15,085.

Top 5 small business industries in Montana

How Many Small Businesses in Montana?

Over 123,000 is a lot of small businesses to be registered in any one state. Compared to the rest of the U.S., it represents 0.38% of all U.S. businesses. There are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S.

The number of small businesses in Montana has been growing over the past several years.

  • In 2017 there were 117,149 small businesses, which increased to 118,315 in 2018 (0.99% increase).
  • In 2019 there were 120,246 small businesses which were 1,931 more than the state had in 2018 (1.63% increase).
  • From 2019 to 2020, the number of small businesses in Montana rose again, to 123,419. This is the largest increase in percentage terms over the past five years (2.63%) and demonstrates Montana’s strong, and progressive economy.

The Big Sky Country is an ideal place to begin your entrepreneurial journey for so many reasons. An important factor is the multitude of business help for startups to already established businesses. There are several development centers, advisories, and professional small business support systems provided for free in Montana.

If you would like to download the latest 2020 Small Business Profile on Montana from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, the Profile can be downloaded here.