How to Start a Business in Wisconsin: Essential Steps

When I heard that my brother, who resided in Wisconsin, wanted to start a business there, I said, “You must do some research before you start a business”. 

He involved me in his business idea so that together we could take up prompt research about how to come up with a successful business in Wisconsin. ?

Thankfully, I now know a lot of details about how to start a business in Wisconsin. ?

Wisconsin has a business-friendly environment, and many small businesses thrive in the state. It’s also the home for large businesses like Harley Davison and Kohl.?‍?

I will share the most relevant information, guidance and tips on this subject here. So, going step-by-step and methodologically will help you to establish a good foundation for your business operations. Read on to get an idea.

Come Up With A Business Idea

The first step to any inception will be the idea. So here, when planning to start a new business, you must think of a brilliant business idea and jot down a detailed business plan.?

A few things that you must consider at the start include,

  • What products and services do you want to deal in?
  • What’s going to be your USP?
  • Which is your target market?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What potential challenges might you see on your way?
  • How is the market for such businesses, and what demand factors would work? 
  • How much finance would you need for a year at least?
  • Will there be separate HR, accounts, marketing and sales departments, or will you hire experts as per the needs arising?

You should brainstorm and jot down all the things you feel are related to your business ideas. This initial market research will serve you throughout the lifespan of your business.

I believe that if you have laid down a strong foundation from the start, nothing can shatter that later. ?

Determine What Will Be The Legal Structure Of Your Business?

Now comes the second important point: deciding the legal ownership structure of your business. There are different legal structures from which you can choose.

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Partnerships

There are some more legal structures, but the structures that I have mentioned here are popular in Wisconsin.

Note ?️: You must choose the legal structure for the business that will help you limit your liability, get tax benefits, and help with financial benefits. 

Choose And Register A Business Name

Once you have decided on the business entity or the legal structure, you must choose the name for your business. 

Find the name that stands out, and yet the customers identify the same with their needs. They should be able to connect with the business name you choose.

Tip ?: You must choose a name not filed in DFI. In Wisconsin, there’s the Department of Financial Institutions that has a list of the names of the businesses that prevail. 

You can search in that database and find a business name that is not filed there. File a Name receive Application with DFI.

Also, take up a federal trademark check to come up with a different business name, and once you register or file the name, this is the only one who can use this name.

If you are into an online business, then also register a domain name. ?️

Analyze The Business Costs And Budget

Suppose you are looking forward to determining the business costs and the budget. In that case, you need to check how much operating expenses you must bear. Along with that, you must know about your estimated tax payments.

You must also determine the marketing and product promotions and campaigning costs. ?

To start a business in Wisconsin, you may need anything from around USD 5000 to USD 20000. But, with that, you can start a small business.

Note ?️: However, it depends on the business model, the business plan and the products you deal in to know exactly about the business’s budget.

Obtain An EIN Number

If you are going to hire one or more employees for your business, it will be mandatory to get an EIN number. EIN stands for Employee Identification Number. 

This number is the business’s federal tax number, and it will be crucial before you get the bank account for your business.

Note ?️: Once you have your EIN number, you will need a seller’s permit. For availing of a seller’s permit, there’s a need for an EIN number.

Register For Business Tax

There’s another important requirement in Wisconsin: every seller must collect sales tax and remit the same to the government.

Business tax registration costs USD 20, and then there’s a renewal every year with USD 10 per year.

Get The Relevant Licenses And Permits

Different agencies in Wisconsin will provide different permits and licenses. There would be some licenses that are needed, especially for tax purposes, a few for health standards, some for specific services and some for construction and zoning.

You will have to avail the licenses and permits from:

  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of Health Services
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Safety And Professional Services.

Tip ?: You can check out with the expert business attorney who will provide you an insight into which licenses and permits are relevant for your business.

I have done thorough research on these licenses and understood that Wisconsin has organized departments. 

Hence, you already know well from which department you will avail these specific licenses.☺️

Open A Bank Account For Your Company

Since your business operations will start soon after you have availed of the licenses, it would be apt to apply for a bank account.

You should also determine how much money will be needed at the start of the business. If you can arrange cash, a business loan, a financer etc for the same, things would be quite sorted from the very inception. ?

Many people ask me why there’s a need for a separate bank account even when the business is a sole proprietary business.

 I tell them to protect the liability; this thing is crucial. So, even if you have multiple personal accounts, start a separate bank account with the business name.

Take Business Insurance

A business can have multiple issues, and sometimes there can be problems with the customers, mishaps at the workplace etc. 

You would definitely want to limit your liability, and for that, there’s a need to take business insurance.?

Tip ?: There are many different types of business insurance available. Just find out from an insurance expert which one seems to be the most suitable for your business.

Wisconsin Licensing Requirements for Contractors

Wisconsin has specific licensing requirements for contractors to ensure professionalism and safety in the construction industry.

Contractors in Wisconsin must obtain a state license to perform residential, commercial, or industrial construction work exceeding $1,000 in cost.

The licensing process involves passing a qualifying examination, providing proof of insurance, and meeting financial responsibility requirements.

Additionally, contractors may need to fulfill other local or municipal requirements depending on their location within the state.

These stringent regulations aim to protect consumers and maintain high standards in the construction field.

Software to Improve Your Business

In today’s digital age, leveraging software is paramount for enhancing business operations. Tailored software solutions empower organizations to streamline processes, boost productivity, and make data-driven decisions.

From customer relationship management (CRM) systems that optimize client interactions to data analytics tools that uncover valuable insights, the right software can revolutionize the way businesses operate.

Whether it’s automating repetitive tasks or ensuring data security, investing in software is a strategic move to stay competitive and agile in the ever-evolving business landscape.

Top Wisconsin Business Fields

Wisconsin has a diverse economy with several key business fields and industries that contribute significantly to its economic growth and development. Here are some of the top business fields in Wisconsin:


Wisconsin has a strong manufacturing sector, with a focus on industries such as aerospace, automotive, machinery, and food processing. Major manufacturing companies like Harley-Davidson, Rockwell Automation, and Oshkosh Corporation are headquartered in the state.


Agriculture plays a vital role in Wisconsin’s economy, with dairy farming being a prominent industry. The state is known for its dairy products, cheese production, and crop farming, including corn, soybeans, and cranberries.


Wisconsin has a robust healthcare sector, with numerous hospitals, research institutions, and healthcare-related businesses. The healthcare industry includes health systems like the Mayo Clinic Health System and the University of Wisconsin Health.

Technology and Information Technology (IT):

The technology and IT sector in Wisconsin has been growing, particularly in cities like Madison and Milwaukee. The state is home to tech startups, software development companies, and research institutions.


Wisconsin is home to several prestigious universities and colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The education sector contributes significantly to the state’s economy, supporting research, innovation, and a skilled workforce.


Wisconsin’s natural beauty, lakes, and recreational opportunities make tourism a crucial industry. Visitors come to the state for activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and visiting attractions like the Wisconsin Dells and Door County.

Finance and Insurance:

Milwaukee is known as a financial hub in the Midwest, and the city is home to many financial institutions and insurance companies. Northwestern Mutual, a Fortune 500 company, is headquartered in Milwaukee.

Pros and Cons of Doing Business in Wisconsin


  • Strong workforce
  • Business-friendly laws
  • Access to markets
  • Low cost of living
  • Proximity to major cities
  • Diverse economic sectors
  • Quality of life


  • Harsh winters
  • High property taxes
  • Limited venture capital
  • Seasonal tourism-dependent
  • Regulatory complexity
  • Infrastructure challenges
  • Limited international reach


Starting a business in Wisconsin is a great choice. The state’s strong economy, helpful resources, and skilled workforce make it a prime location for entrepreneurs. By following the right steps and using available resources, you can launch a successful business in Wisconsin.

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