Sat 11 Jun 2016 | By:

How to Start a Business in South Dakota: 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanBecause of our huge community, we’ve seen the value a solid business plan brings to the table for legitimate startups, and what kind of fallout potentially awaits those who neglect this first foundation-building step. Is there value in spontaneity and going with the flow in the ultra-beginning? Absolutely. But, once you know you’re on to something serious, it’s time to buckle up and start etching out an initial blueprint.

Take Action: Seize upon our free and easy email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide tons of other great tools along the way.


Step 2: Choose Biz-Structure & Incorporate

How to Choose a Business StructureThe next step involves choosing a legal structure, or identity for your brand otherwise known as incorporation (primarily to protect you/the company and be able to enforce contracts under the law). South Dakota has its own set of upsides and downsides depending on which you choose, so do a little homework here. If you don’t have legal help or an attorney in your pocket, consider working with an online incorporation provider. Either way, tons of steps happen all at once during this process, including registering your brand name with the state.

Take Action: As this part of starting a business can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick-guides for the most popular entities if you want to skip over to those.


Step 3: Sync with the South Dakota Tax Code

Small Business TaxesFirst and foremost, South Dakota is one of the states without income tax (including corporate/personal) and it’s considered by the Tax Foundation as a top state to incorporate in. From a low ongoing filing burden to booming local economies and no enforcement of capital gains taxes…wow! The trick is knowing what you’re doing so you can leverage as much as possible.

Take Action: Bookmark the Business Taxes info page through the SD Dept. of Revenue. It’s going to be your portal to online services, getting forms if you’re doing this solo, a tax rate finder, and more.


Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesDon’t worry, the red-tape ride is almost over. South Dakota may have more shoreline than Florida thanks in large part to Lake Oahe, but aside from Native American Indian Reservation (tribal) issues and basic state/federal requirements, most small to medium-sized brands who want to be located among the free-roaming bison have little to fret about.

  1. For DYI’ers head to the state’s Business Entity Registration page which has links to corresponding info for each type.
  2. For $99 you could get IncFile’s Business License Package which is amazing! They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels for you, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.


Step 5: Create a Dedicated Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountE-Z-P-Z. If you’re looking for complex, go explore Wind Cave. This is VERY simple: pick a good place to set up a dedicated business account to begin building your brand’s financial persona. Afterwards you can sync it with your financial software and boom, you’re set.

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Step 6: Pick a Stellar South Dakota Location

How to Choose a Business LocationGood news is that thanks to the smaller populations in cities, the stargazing is pretty much awesome wherever you settle. Well, except maybe the downtown areas of Sioux Falls. But most cities like Aberdeen, Brookings, Watertown or Rapid City are gorgeous slices of heaven in the heart of America with all the modern accoutrements for modern business.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.


Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform

How to Finance a BusinessTo be frank, outside more conventional means (like where you choose to bank) once your brand reaches the point you need serious funding online options will become more and more viable. Social lending and CrowdFunding are two very serious paths to consider which are growing in popularity by the second, especially for small businesses. Keep in mind their state motto’s “Under God The People Rule.”

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like mashed potatoes and wrestling. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.


Step 8: Design & Publish a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteDoes your website need to be as impressive as Mount Rushmore? No. Not even close. As long as your site gives the world and your ideal customers/clients/users a way to investigate you, everything else happens over the years. Truth is, “websites” are never done. They grow and adapt as much as your brand will to the pressures of time.

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department the first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there aren’t too many yet. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.


Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelOkay, so your brand’s registered/filed with the state, incorporated, hooked up into the regulatory system, your financial foundation is set and your website’s published…now it’s time to market! There’s two big tricks: incentives and knowing yourself as the business owner.

Take Action: What kinds of incentives does your niche respond to? What incentives lower your customer/lead acquisition costs? And finally, what are your personal marketing strengths as the biz-owner? These are critical questions to consider during this first leg of the journey.


Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsIn essence, the final step has to do with where you put your focus in terms of ongoing education and keeping yourself motivated through the rougher times of being in business. It’s not all circuses and candy and who you lend your ear to matters. Consider Startup Savant as a reliable resource and place to turn for insight from fellow change-makers.

Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from ambitious professionals like you.

Note that this 10-step guide is made for the sole purpose of giving you information and instructions on how to start a small business in South Dakota. It is not be considered a legal document or a replacement of legal advice. If you have specific questions and concerns, you can address them directly to your lawyer.

About Ryan James

Half hardworking hermit, half avid adventurer, Ryan founded Startup Savant to simplify entrepreneurship and pay it forward by donating a portion of all revenue to support children's education via