3 Steps to Start a Minnesota Business

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Page Corrections? We continue to scout resources for Minnesotans looking to start a Small Business; so, the links below are a courtesy (and the accuracy of other’s data can’t be guaranteed). If you notice that something is amiss or inappropriately linked or sited, please let me know! Contact Melinda.

Start a Minnesota Business in 3 Steps

1. Decide Your Business’s Structure Type
2. Write Your Business Plan
3. Register Your Minnesota Business

STEP 1 - Decide Your Business Type

Is your business best suited to be an LLC, a sole-proprietorship, a non-profit, a corporation? Minnesota Government distinguishes business types. Learn more about the main types of business structures in Minnesota. To dig-in and make sure you’re fully versed in your options and the downstream impact of that choice, consider connecting with one of the Minnesota Business Start-Up ORGANIZATIONS listed below. An attorney or accountant may also provide helpful insight as you determine what kind of business you’ll be. As you sit down to write your business plan, your business type will shape your funding, governance, and operations.

STEP 2 - Write Your Business Plan


You’ve got a great idea, but writing it out has a way of forcing clarity, stimulating the need to “find out more” (aka market research), and solidify the best ways for you to refine and move your idea forward. Below are 7-bits that every good business plan should include.

Yep, its super tempting to skip this step. So balance the sitting down and research/writing with things that you really love about starting a new business; go visit locations, talk with others in the know. Then sit down - for a set time everyday and get this done. Writing a business plan is the best way to see whether your idea will really work. Sometimes as you do your research, learn who the competitors are or how much it will cost to do what you want to do - you’ll refine your idea or even move onto a better idea.

It’s how you go from a dream in your head to a dream you can live. It’s hard work, but that’s how dreams come true.

A Business plan helps you learn more about your future customers as well as the competition. And that, my friends, increases the likelihood that your business will succeed.

Oh, and because a solid business plan is the only real way to get investors on board; be they friends, family, angel-investors or the neighborhood bank. A solid plan that deals with business realities is out-of-the-gate important. The ORGANIZATIONS listed below provide stellar support for this process - so, best tip? Don’t go it alone. Connect with people who can help.

7 bits to include in a good business plan

  1. Executive Summary: Business Name, Location, Vision, Strategy

  2. Business Description: who you are, how you operate and what your long and short-term business goals are (includes business type, above)

  3. Products & Services: describe your products and services and what sets you apart, include costs, research, and relevant copyright or patent

  4. Market Analysis: research and demonstrate knowledge about your target market, their demographics, and competitors

  5. Strategy & Implementation:  Explain your market strategy, how you’ll enter the market and promote your business; include costs, labor, and projected ROI

  6. Organization & Management: Create an organizational chart that describes your company’s structure, roles, advisory boards; detail skills within professional biographies

  7. Financial Plan & Projections: Include a detailed budget with startup costs and income sources, as well as forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and capital expenditure budgets for the next five years

    Remember that investors need to look at the risk of non-repayment, and your word (as good as it may be) isn’t a substitute a properly-prepared business plan.

A great business plan isn’t a one-and-done but a living document that helps you revisit, revise and level-up your business goals bi-annually.

STEP 3 - Register Your Business

Before you register your business, you’ll need to settle on a name. Likely that’s something that got clarified in the process of writing a business plan. But, now it’s time to lock that in!

You can check out Business Filings Online to see similar business and names. When checking name availability, make sure your business names is at least one letter or number different from other names already on file. You can learn more here: Name Availability Guidelines.

Now, go ahead and create an online business account (or register in person or through snail mail), then click here to register your business online  with the State of Minnesota.

But don’t stop there! Registration does NOT give you a tax ID number (and you’ll need that too). So, the next step is to contact the Minnesota Dept of Revenue to obtain a state tax ID number. Then, go to the IRS for a Federal Tax ID number.

Here is an additional MN List of Business Resources that can help you manage this process. Once your filing has been processed, the email you’ll receive will have a link that will take you to the website where you can download a copy of the filing. All filings are kept in your Transaction History for 90-days.

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Ready to Start Your Business

Talk to Minnesota’s Small Business Website Specialist

Minnesota Small Business Resources

Organizations You Should Know About

SCORE offers free business counseling

Linking to local business owners whose experience can guide you through one-on-one mentoring sessions. SCORE is a national nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth, and success of the nation's small businesses. Take advantage of expert experience through low cost local workshops that build skills and free webinars on Operations, Finances, and Marketing. Visit http://www.score-mn.org/pw-webinars/ to register and start watching today. SCORE Minneapolis can be reached at (952) 938-4570 or email minneapolis.score@gmail.com 

Mn Job Partners helps Minnesota entrepreneurs turn their dreams into a reality

The Dislocated Worker Program helps Minnesotans in transition - not only with traditional employment - but with business start-ups. With over 4,000 angel investors statewide and an abundance of free resources for small business owners, Minnesota is a great place to become a business owner - and the Dislocated Worker Program can help you get there.

Climb is a free program designed to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in the state-funded Dislocated Worker Program with training and consulting to support a successful business launch or growth.

SHIFT helps mid-lifers navigate transition

Shift guides and connects mid-lifers seeking greater purpose and passion in life and work.

Get connected with resources and careers that combine income with personal meaning and social impact.

Navigate your transition successfully.

WomenVenture helps Entrepreneurs start businesses

A Women's Business Center, designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration, WomenVenture helps help women from all walks of life start and grow profitable and sustainable businesses. They train entrepreneurs, advise businesses, mentor, provide loans, create jobs, and provides business consulting for existing businesses ready to take it to the next level.

NDC partners with community-based organizations to provide culturally attuned support for startups and those ready for business expansion

NDC partners with community-based organizations to provide culturally sensitive entrepreneur training programs. NDC offers a variety of courses to help prepare entrepreneurs in both startup and expansion stage of owning a business. The NDC Business Lab offers customized professional services to small businesses and nonprofits for building capacity and generating impact. Learn how to create your business plan, expand your business, and grow your small business skills in accounting, sales, marketing, inventory control, and web design.

NDC also offers reduced cost financing to help you start your business.


Get this Free Guide

From the MN Department of Employment & Economic Development

This Guidebook, written by the the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is a free resource and a must read for those of you starting a business or buying an existing business.

You can order a hard-copy, CD or USB free of charge.

Small Business

that Get you there


Check out these Resources from the MN Employment & Economic Development Office

(most resources are available in various formats)

Every business begins as a small business

No matter what trajectory your business growth takes, the ability to make sound business decisions will determine your profitability and sustainability. The SBDC can help.

Minnesota’s statewide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provides the professional expertise and guidance to navigate our ever-evolving business world.

Minnesota Dept of Employment & Economic Development 
1st National Bank Bldg
332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200 
St Paul, MN 55101

Contact: 651-259-7423 
or deed.mnsbdc@state.mn.us 

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