How to Start a Business in Indiana

Rated by Forbes as the state with the lowest regulatory burden in the nation, Indiana is the perfect place to launch your new business. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resources in your local area for help.

Steps to Starting Your Indiana Business

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea

The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Indiana visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Tool

Step 2: Plan Your Business

Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

Our Business Planning Guide helps you analyze your business idea and gets you access to free planning tools.

Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.

Secure your Domain

We recommend that you check to see if the business name you are planning is available as a web domain. Even if you aren't ready to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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Step 3: Form your Business

Registering your company as an Indiana business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Indiana for as little as $90.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Step 4: Register for Taxes


With limited exceptions, most businesses require a Federal EIN, also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important indiana taxes that may apply to you business:

  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Indiana Sales Tax.
  • If you hire employees in Indiana, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
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Register for Indiana State Taxes

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Withholding Tax

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting

An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: FinancePal is a one stop shop to meet all your accounting and tax filing needs.

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses

To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Indiana, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand

The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high quality products and services.

Learn more about branding and how to build a brand for your business.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence

A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’ credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile
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More than ever, people are looking for reviews before doing business. Yelp is an important aspect of social validation for your business, claim your page today and get $300 in Yelp advertising credit.

Sign up for our Business Center

Sign up for a free Business Center account for access to tools, legal documents, and discounts that will help you start and grow your business

Signup Now

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of Indiana that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Bloomington Local Resources

The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Research

Description

The Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington provides practical tools such as consulting services, classes, as well as community-based events that help strengthen technical knowledge of entrepreneurship.

Restrictions

The consulting service requires a somewhat comprehensive business plan to get started.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

501 N Profile Parkway
Bloomington, IN 47404
812-330-6261
abarker67@ivytech.edu

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Bloomington Resources

Fort Wayne Local Resources

Start Fort Wayne

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Description

Start Fort Wayne offers a wide range of services to entrepreneurs including Atrium, a contract-free co-working space. Start Fort Wayne offers various paid programs throughout the year that are open to the public. Additionally, for individuals who need one-on-one time, the organization offers a free 30-minute consultation and paid consultations thereafter.

Restrictions

Some events are only open to members.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

111 W Berry St., Suite 221
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
260-969-9393
contact@startfortwayne.com

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Fort Wayne Resources

Hammond Local Resources

NxLevel Entrepreneurship Program

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning

Description

NxLevel is run by the Hammond Development Corporation and consists of an intensive course in best practices centered around creating a business plan. The first class is 9 weeks long and guides the entrepreneur through creating a business plan. The second class focuses on launching a business and covers topics like accounting and marketing. 

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Hammond Resources

Indianapolis Local Resources

Indy Chamber

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Networking

Accepts Walks In

Description

The Indy Chamber is an organization aiming to unite businesses and communities while building a stronger economy. The Indy Chamber provides thorough support for entrepreneurs in various stages of starting their business, including the Business Owner Initiative, which offers one-on-one coaching sessions. Indy Chamber also offers various workshops and courses. The Indy Chamber is affiliated with other organizations and resources that cater to minority groups, such as Central Indiana Women's Business Center and Hispanic Business Council.

Restrictions

Serves Hancock, Hamilton, Hendrix, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby, Madison, Marion counties

CONTACT INFORMATION:

111 Monument Circle, Suite 1950
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-464-2222

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON - FRI:  8 am - 5 pm

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Indianapolis Resources