How to start a business in Michigan (10 Simple Steps)

Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanNo serious entrepreneur braves the Michigan marketplace without a game plan. It’s fantastically large and world-renowned in many different industries, so winging it really isn’t an option. Most startups have “plans” but once it’s time to weigh in with the big dogs you’ve got to have an executive summary, financials, forecasts, etc. to be taken seriously.

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 & Incorporate

How to Choose a Business StructureNow that your initial plan is ironed out, and you’re serious about this, it’s time to register your business. First pick your legal structure, then in the process of registering you’ll take care of all kinds of red tape including securing a brand name and protecting your personal assets like house and car.

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 Michigan Tax Code

Small Business TaxesTruth be told, understanding and taking care of your business tax requirements are important. Michigan’s regulatory environment goes way back, so depending on what sort of business you intend on establishing it could get complex quick. Are you working directly with the public? Which county? Some sales are taxed, some aren’t. See why some homework here is important?

Take Action: Head on over to the Michigan Department of Treasury’s Business Taxes section to start digging in. We also recommend bookmarking the page for future reading.

Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesThis part can go by as quickly as smoothly as a mile in a Ford GT. However, you may not be required to get any licenses or permits at all. Everything depends on your  location and industry.

  1. DYI’ers can begin by using’s State License Search to see if you’ll need to get licensed.
  2. If you need help with this step, a Business License Package is awesome. 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 AccountAlright, let’s assume you’re well-planned, registered with the state,  and you’ve got your taxes/licensing nailed down. Now it’s time to establish your business’ financial foundation by finding the best banking institution and setting up dedicated business account.

Take Action

  • Shop around at local or national banks like Bank of America or Capital One and compare features. Typically, they’ll bend over backwards for your business!
  • User-friendly, fast, secure, tons of automation, easier forecasting, more efficient marketing budgets…the benefits are near endless, which is why this startup-tool is indispensable. Check out our guide to Business Accounting Software and sync whichever you choose with your fresh new business bank account.

Step 6: Pick A Stellar Michigan Location

How to Choose a Business LocationChoose your location based on a) how many resources are in the area that help you grow, and b) how much easier or harder it makes managing the business. Take your time, do some homework, and be strategic.

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 BusinessAssuming your financials look good and you’ve got a professional business plan in hand, you’ve got countless options. From angel investment funds galore to vast networks of startup organizations, state-level programs, and one of the earth’s most unbelievable consumer cultures… there are plenty of resources out there, so don’t be shy. If you’ve come this far in the wolverine state, 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 Coney Dogs and sports. 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 WebsiteGive Michiganders and the internet a way to investigate your products and services. Generate more leads and brand expansion by being accessible to local searches. Having a solid business website is as necessary as having a plan.

Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, and thankfully there are some very good options. If you’d like our recommendation, grab a free trial to Wix or Weebly. They’re the easiest to use and have the best prices, no previous tech-skills required.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelAfter steps 1 through 8 it’s about selling and growing. We’re of the school of thought that says if you’ve got a solid foundation, structured planning, a good location, modern software, and great communication then your products and services should be selling themselves…to a degree.

Take Action: The internet’s fooling a ton of startups into thinking they can automate relationships and reduce customer touch-points to social media signals and it’s not true. Ironically, consumers and professionals of all kinds are demanding MORE transparency and more of a personal touch.

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsConsider Startup Savant one of your reliable sources of valuable and change-maker info straight from the trenches of our entrepreneurial era. There’s nothing better than solidarity, and while you’re learning your lessons it’s nice to know you’re not alone.

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