How to Start a Small Business in Michigan

Starting a business in Michigan is fairly straightforward, though you may face additional steps based on the business structure you plan for your company. Depending on the the type of business you’ll be engaged in, you also may need a business license or various permits.

Register Your Business Name

Register your assumed business name, also known as Doing Business As name, with the county clerk where your business is located. You need to register your business name unless you are a sole proprietor operating under your legal first and last name, or you plan to register on the state level as a legal business entity. You also will need a federal Employer Identification Number, available online from the IRS, unless your business is a sole proprietorship without employees.

Filing as a Business Entity

To form your business as a limited liability company, limited partnership or corporation, you must file with the Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division. Filing requirements include Articles of Organization for LLCs, Certificate of Limited Partnership for limited partnerships, and Articles of Incorporation for corporations.

Obtain a Sales Tax License

If your company will be involved in the retail sale of tangible goods, you must apply for a sales tax license to collect and report the required tax. The sales tax registration form is available online at the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Acquire a Business License, Permits

Not all Michigan businesses require a license or permit. The state provides an extensive list of necessary licenses and permits , or you can conduct an online search to find if your business falls under state licensing requirements. If your type of business does need a license or permit, the state of Michigan’s Business One Stop site has links to necessary state departments and other sources of small business assistance.

Find Financial Support, Guidance

The MichiganBusiness website, sponsored by the Pure Michigan program, includes a listing of state programs for small business training, financing, venture capital links and incubators. The programs listed include:

  • The Michigan Small Business Development Center provides counseling, research and advocacy for start-ups, existing small businesses and innovative tech companies.
  • Michigan SmartZone Network connects state universities, research groups and companies to stimulate technology based businesses with special events, services and incubators.
  • Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest is a statewide business plan competition with the goal to generate new business ideas and offer coaching, mentoring and investor feedback. The GLEQ awards $1 million in prizes annually.

About the Author

Tom Chmielewski is a longtime journalist with experience in newspapers, magazines, books, e-books and the Internet. With his company TEC Publishing, he has published magazines and an award-winning multimedia e-book, "Celebration at the Sarayi." Chmielewski's design skills include expertise in Adobe Creative Suite's InDesign and Photoshop. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Michigan University.