Step 1) Plan Your Business Idea
For the same reason you don’t just head off on a long Minnesota cross-country ski trail without an idea of what you’re doing, you don’t start a company inside its borders without a professional business plan. It’s that simple.
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.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2) Choose Business Structure & Register
The next step is to decide on a business structure. Once you’ve made your decision get the ball rolling on registration so that you can protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) and secure your brand name.
Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it harnesses all the benefits of a corporation without taking on any of its disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public via an IPO or raise substantial outside capital, consider forming 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) Tackle Minnesota Tax Obligations
Integrated into the registration process are tax obligations. The good news is that Minnesota is brimming with incentives, credits, entrepreneurial-friendly programs, and other tax benefits that your brand deserves to leverage. Just be sure to do your homework.
Take Action: Head on over to and bookmark the Minnesota Dept. of Revenue’s website. If you don’t have an accountant yet, this page is going to be indispensable.
Step 4) Obtain Licensing/Permits
There's a large amount of variables that determine how much regulatory red tape you're looking at to become compliant with all relevant state/federal agencies.
- For the DIY’ers, the MN Employment & Econ Development site has a fabulous Business Licenses section.
- If you need help with this step, a Business License Service is what we recommend. They determine everything required on federal, state, county and municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Step 5) Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
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 go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Step 6) Pick A Stellar Minnesota Location
Minnesota is a landscape with 11,000 lakes, so if your product or service has to do with water, you’re going to love starting a business here. Regardless, where you choose to settle is very important. Two things to focus on initially are how many resources you have in the area with which to grow the brand, and how much easier or harder the area makes managing the 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
Funding. Capital. Dinero. As you know it’s the lifeblood of business. And yes, Minnesota has a thriving entrepreneurial culture that supports bootstrapping, but eventually outside money becomes a necessity. When it does, don’t forget to keep non-conventional options handy like Social Lending and CrowdFunding which have recently seen tremendous growth in MN.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8) Build A Business Website
Whether all you need is a simple, responsive one-pager with the basics of your brand, an agency-based site, or an ecommerce store, websites are no longer optional. We understand it can be an undertaking, and websites are never “done,” but considering the potential they bring to the table it’s a no-brainer.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, and thankfully there are some very good options. We highly recommend checking out Wix or Weebly, which are two of the most popular. Both help you build a professional business website while being very easy to use. No previous tech-skills required.
Step 9) Market Your Business
This is definitely tough no matter how you slice it. What we can tell you is that the VAST majority of success stories start local, often very close to home. So no matter where you set up shop- even if you’re online only- the people of Minnesota have a ton to offer.
Take Action: How well do you know your ideal clients/customers/users? As technology and software tools continue changing the game, remember the ways your brand connects with these folks is your most potent source of inbound/outbound marketing.
Step 10) Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Startup Savant is really hammering down on entrepreneurial interviews because we believe they’re an incredible source of learning and motivation. Browse a couple and you’ll see why. Plus, they really work well with all the many tools we love to lavish our readers with.