How to Start a Small Business in Wisconsin

by Jerry Garner ; Updated September 26, 2017
Small Business Office

Many people in Wisconsin have found a new level of freedom and independence from opening their own small business. With a little planning and a lot of hard work, anyone can start a small business in Wisconsin, and grow that business into being a successful enterprise. All it takes is a few simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to being your own boss and living out your dream of working for yourself. All you have to do is follow this quick guide to learn how to start a small business in Wisconsin.

Think of an idea for your business. You most likely have already done this. Most people have at least had a periodic daydream of owning their own small business, or have worked at a company for a long time and feel that they could easily do the job on their own. The key is to think of something that will earn money, while also doing something that you enjoy. Starting a small business takes a lot of hard work, and that effort seems a lot less difficult when it is something that you enjoy doing anyway. Finding that perfect business idea is the first step to starting a small business, in Wisconsin or anywhere else.

Form a plan. Every business needs a plan. You need to plan how you will open your business, how you will market your business, who you will market to, and basically any conceivable aspect to operating your small business. Your plan will guide your company through its early growth period, and help you stay profitable without straying into areas of business that you never intended to go. Check out the Wisconsin Entrepreneur’s Toolkit in the Resources section (below) for some free templates and help writing a business plan for anyone who wants to start a small business in Wisconsin.

Locate financing for your business. Most people who start a small business obtain the financing from their own savings, or through funds provided by family and friends. If you have a good credit score, you may also be able to take out a personal loan to fund the start of your new business venture. Consider how much money will be required to cover the first 6 to 12 months of your business, and then evaluate your options for obtaining the funds. This is certainly one of the most difficult aspects of getting a small business off the ground, but hard work and persistence will pay off in the end.

Determine how your small business should be structured. There are a number of ways to structure a new business that is being started. The majority of small businesses are either a Sole Proprietorship or a General Partnership. Other options available include Limited Liability Company (LLC) and C-Corporation. However, these structures are only truly required for more complex businesses that require additional tax protection. A Sole Proprietorship will work well for any business that is owned by a single individual, or a General Partnership if your small business has more than one owner.

Register your business. All businesses in Wisconsin are registered by the Secretary of State, however, you can fill out the paperwork to register your business at the local level, usually at the local Court House. For basic company structures, a simple form, accompanied by a filing fee, is all that is required. Additional paperwork may be needed for more complicated company structures. Call your local County Clerk’s office or Chamber of Commerce for more information on how to legally register your small business in Wisconsin.

Open a bank account for your small business. A business savings account is good to have since it will generate interest on your funds, although a business checking account is primarily what you need, for purposes of paying expenses. It is also good if the checking account comes with a debit card, which can be used the same as a credit card, with purchases being debited directly from your checking account. Call several banks in your local area to ask about the fees and requirements associated with a business checking account, and use the information you collect to decide which bank is best for you.


  • If you do not have time to go to the local Court House, you can also register your business online by using a business registration service, such as LegalZoom.

About the Author

Jerry Garner has been writing semi-professionally for more than 15 years. The body of Garner's work includes informative articles, news and current events and historical essays. He is an avid sports fan and frequently writes about outdoor activities online.

Photo Credits

  • Josh Parrish, Flickr.com Creative Commons License
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