How to start a business in Indiana

10 Simple Steps

STEP 1: TRULY PLAN YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

Write a Business PlanThis is your blueprint. It’s your game plan. Not in a cliché sense, but a very real and very effective sense – financials, budgeting, forecasts, management, marketing approach, pitch, and funding. That said, thanks to new solid resources, the days of slaving away for months to create a 40-page plan are over.

Instead, millions of entrepreneurs across the planet are turning to better and better software solutions that’ve streamlined the planning process. What you end up with is a great presentation-ready plan for investors, potential partners, VCs, incubator programs, and so forth.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

STEP 2: CHOOSE BUSINESS STRUCTURE & REGISTER

How to Choose a Business StructureGet ready for the real meat and bones. Now it’s time to choose which business structure best suits your business and register it with the state. This will help secure a brand name and protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) in the process.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it’s not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You’ll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

STEP 3: SYNC WITH THE INDIANA TAX CODE

Small Business TaxesLike all other states, Indiana has its own set of credits, incentives, kick-backs and tax-based programs to both attract new business and cater to the industries who’ve evolved there over many generations. You can do this on your own or hire a tax professional to leverage it as much as possible. Just be sure your business is totally compliant in the eyes of the state.

Take Action: A great place to start is the Indiana Dept. of Revenue’s Business Tax webpage with all the pertinent links and info you could need.

STEP 4: OBTAIN PROPER LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesUnlike the many cornfield mazes throughout the state, Indiana’s regulatory system is very well-managed and friendly to small businesses like yours interested in enriching the good people there. The level of complexity and the amount of hoops to hop through are ultimately determined by the nature of your business and where it’s located.

  1. For DYI’ers head to Indiana’s Business Owner’s Guide that goes through Specific Business Licenses in section II-B.
  2. Business License Research Service is great if you need help with this step. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

STEP 5: CREATE A DEDICATED BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountIn this step you’ll want to centralize your brand’s finances by opening a separate bank account and integrate an accounting software.

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STEP 6: PICK A STELLAR INDIANA LOCATION

How to Choose a Business LocationTwo things matter when it comes to the location of your business: 1) the degree to which it makes managing the brand more efficient, and 2) the amount of assets within 1-5 miles of the front door.

That said, whether you’re headed for the bustle of Indianapolis or a quaint gem like Brazil (the town silly), you’re going to love Indiana. Plus you’re regionally located next to titans of capital like Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis. Not too shabby!

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 BusinessBalancing budgets and keeping your brand above water is the biggest challenge. Is it easy? No, not for most of us who aren’t talented accountants. Take advantage of the countless local and state-level programs, funds, networks, VCs, angel investor funds, as well as online options like social lending and CrowdFunding. In Indiana, the sky’s the limit.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Red Gold and the Zoopolis 500 (a fun annual turtle race). 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 WebsiteNo one’s saying your business website has to be a work of art, but your brand does need one to be taken seriously. The good news is that there are online platforms which have really streamlined the process, making it much easier for less savvy entrepreneurs to have great, customized, and fully-responsive business website for a fraction of the cost.

Take Action: Check out a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. Both are extremely easy to use and out-of-the-box. All you’ll need to do is choose a template and make a few customizations that reflect what your business offers. Zero technical skills required!

STEP 9: MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Social Media ChannelIn our estimation, the #1 reliable rule of effective marketing is, “Know yourself first, then your ideal customer.” Meaning, are you a marketing maven? Are you a seasoned business owner? Let’s say your particular niche is really heavy into a certain digital platform, are you qualified or savvy enough to approach them there?

Take Action: Do what your either naturally good at, or, is within your realm of understanding. Some things are worth learning or teaching yourself, but don’t get lost in the sea of marketing methods/approaches out there. Don’t spread too thin. Instead, invest in great team members or outsource to providers you know and trust.

STEP 10: CONTINUE LEARNING & STAY INSPIRED

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsPlease consider Startup Savant a reliable resource as you move onward and upward towards your dreams. We really know where you’re coming from and what you’re going through which is why around here it’s about tools and personalized interviews with fellow change-makers.

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

Indiana Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Indiana, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options
And

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options