How to Start a Business in Minnesota

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starting a business in minnesota

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur looking to embark on an exciting journey of starting your own business? Look no further than the land of 10,000 lakes: Minnesota. Known for its vibrant economy, thriving startup culture, and exceptional quality of life, Minnesota offers a fertile ground for new ventures. In this article, we will delve into the various factors that make Minnesota an ideal destination for budding entrepreneurs, providing insights and guidance to help you navigate the process of starting a business in the North Star State.

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Why Minnesota is an Ideal Place to Start a Small Business

Minnesota boasts a strong and diverse economy that provides numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs. With thriving sectors such as technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and renewable energy, the state offers a favorable environment for business growth and innovation. Additionally, Minnesota ranks highly in key business indicators, including workforce education, infrastructure, and economic stability, which create a stable foundation for entrepreneurial success.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is renowned for its vibrant startup culture and extensive support network. The state is home to a myriad of organizations, incubators, and accelerators that provide mentorship, networking opportunities, and funding options for entrepreneurs. Institutions like the Minnesota Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), the Minnesota Technology Association (MnTech), and Launch Minnesota actively foster entrepreneurship, offering resources and guidance to help startups thrive. Furthermore, Minnesota’s collaborative spirit and tight-knit business community create a supportive ecosystem where entrepreneurs can connect, learn, and collaborate with like-minded individuals, fueling their entrepreneurial endeavors.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses are the backbone of Minnesota’s economy. In 2020, there were over 502,000 small businesses in the state, accounting for 99.5% of all businesses. These small businesses employed about 1.3 million people, representing approximately 47.5% of the state’s private workforce.

Steps to Start a Business in Minnesota

  1. Get a Business Idea That’s a Good Fit For You
  2. Research the Idea and Draft a Business Plan
  3. Get Funding – Venture Capital, Angel Investors, Friends & Family, or Bootstrap It Yourself
  4. Decide on a Legal Business Entity – LLC’s Are Simplest and Offer the Most Protection
  5. Search the Minnesota Secretary of State for an Available Business Name
  6. Register Your LLC
  7. Find a Minnesota Registered Agent
  8. Get Your Federal EIN and Minnesota Tax ID
  9. Open a Business Bank Account and Business Credit Card
  10. Get the Needed Minnesota Licenses and Permits
  11. Choose a Location
  12. Get Business Insurance
  13. Develop an Internet Presence

Get A Business Idea (That’s a Good Fit For You)

Starting a business in Minnesota begins with a great business idea that aligns with your skills, passions, and the unique opportunities offered by the state. Here are some essential tips to help you discover a business idea that’s a perfect fit for you in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

small business ideas in minnesota

Begin by assessing your interests, hobbies, and areas of expertise. What are you passionate about? What skills do you possess? Consider how your passions and skills can be translated into a viable business opportunity. For instance, if you have a love for outdoor activities and a knack for organizing events, you could explore the potential of starting an adventure tourism company or an outdoor gear rental service, taking advantage of Minnesota’s stunning natural landscapes.

Conduct thorough market research to identify gaps and opportunities within the Minnesota business landscape. Explore industries that are thriving in the state, such as technology, healthcare, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture. Look for emerging trends, consumer demands, and underserved markets. For example, with the growing emphasis on eco-friendly practices, there may be a need for sustainable product alternatives or green consulting services in Minnesota.

Minnesota has its own unique characteristics and strengths that can shape your business idea. Take into account the state’s thriving sectors, available resources, and cultural preferences. Consider how you can tap into the state’s strong manufacturing capabilities, healthcare expertise, or the rich cultural heritage of the region. Understanding the local demographics, consumer preferences, and business climate will help you tailor your business idea to meet the specific needs of Minnesotans.

Draw inspiration from successful local businesses in Minnesota. Attend networking events, industry conferences, and entrepreneur meetups to connect with like-minded individuals and gain insights into successful ventures. Additionally, seek feedback from trusted mentors, friends, and family to validate your business idea. Their input can provide valuable perspectives and help you refine your concept.

Remember, starting a business is a dynamic and iterative process. Be open to exploring different ideas, adapting to market changes, and continuously learning and evolving. With careful consideration of your interests, market opportunities, and local factors, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect business idea that aligns with your goals and thrives in the diverse and vibrant business landscape of Minnesota.

Fueling Your Business Venture: Securing Funding in Minnesota

When it comes to financing your business in Minnesota, there are several options available to entrepreneurs. From local venture capital firms to state resources, here are some avenues to explore for funding your new business venture:

minnesota business funding

Minnesota has a robust venture capital ecosystem with firms that specialize in supporting early-stage startups. Some notable venture capital firms in the state include Brightstone Venture Capital, Sofia Fund, and Arthur Ventures. These firms actively seek promising investment opportunities and provide capital, expertise, and valuable connections to help startups grow. Research these local venture capital firms, understand their investment focus and criteria, and consider reaching out to pitch your business idea.

Minnesota offers various resources and programs specifically designed to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. Launch Minnesota, an initiative by the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), provides grants, mentoring, and support services to tech startups. The Minnesota Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) offer assistance with business planning, financing, and accessing capital. Additionally, the Minnesota Angel Tax Credit Program provides tax credits to investors who fund qualified startups, making it an attractive incentive for potential investors.

  1. Consider utilizing crowdfunding platforms to raise funds from a broad network of supporters. Websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow you to showcase your business idea and attract contributions from individuals who believe in your vision. Additionally, explore grants and funding opportunities available through organizations like the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), local foundations, and nonprofit organizations. These grants can provide crucial early-stage funding for your venture.

Remember to thoroughly research and understand the funding options available to you. Each funding source may have specific requirements, criteria, and application processes. Prepare a compelling business plan, financial projections, and a convincing pitch to increase your chances of securing funding. Networking, attending industry events, and building relationships with local entrepreneurs and investors can also help you access funding opportunities and gain valuable insights and guidance along the way.

Choosing the Right Business Structure for Your New Venture in Minnesota

Choosing the right business structure is a crucial decision when starting a new venture in Minnesota. Each structure has its own advantages and considerations, including liability protection, tax implications, and operational flexibility. Here are the primary business structures to consider:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common form of business structure. It offers ease of setup and complete control over the business. However, as a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. This structure may be suitable for small, low-risk businesses or those in the early stages.


A partnership is formed when two or more individuals share ownership and management responsibilities. There are two main types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners share equal responsibility and liability, while a limited partnership allows for a distinction between general partners (who have unlimited liability) and limited partners (who have limited liability). Partnerships provide flexibility in decision-making and resource pooling, but it’s important to have a solid partnership agreement in place to outline each partner’s rights, responsibilities, and profit-sharing arrangements.


A corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, offering limited liability protection to its shareholders. This means that shareholders are generally not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the corporation. Corporations also have the ability to issue shares of stock, which makes it easier to raise capital. However, corporations require more formalities, such as filing articles of incorporation, holding regular meetings, and maintaining proper records and governance structures.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  1. An LLC combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility and tax advantages of a partnership. It provides a shield for personal assets and simplifies the operational requirements compared to a corporation. LLCs offer flexibility in terms of ownership structure and profit distribution, allowing for a more adaptable and less formal business setup. Additionally, Minnesota offers a specific type of LLC called a “Minnesota Public Benefit Limited Liability Company” for businesses with a social or environmental mission.

While all business structures have their merits, forming an LLC often emerges as a popular choice for new ventures. The LLC structure provides limited liability protection for its owners, allowing them to separate personal assets from business liabilities. It also offers operational flexibility, fewer formalities, and pass-through taxation, meaning profits and losses flow through to the owners’ personal tax returns.

However, it is crucial to consult with an attorney or business advisor to fully understand the legal and tax implications of each business structure. They can help assess your specific needs and guide you in making the best decision for your new venture in Minnesota.

Registering your Minnesota LLC

LLCs are the easiest business structure to start and also to maintain. With fewer headaches than any other business structure, you can simply form an LLC with six easy steps.

  1. Choose a Name For Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File Your LLC With Your State
  4. Complete the State Publication Requirement
  5. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  6. Receive an EIN

Naming Your Minnesota LLC

Choosing a compelling and unique name for your Minnesota LLC is an important step in establishing your brand identity and attracting customers. When selecting a name, consider factors such as relevance to your business, memorability, and legal compliance.

minnesotabusiness name search
Click here to search the Minnesota Secretary of State to see if your business name is available

When conducting your LLC name search through the MSS’s database, it’s essential to search for both exact matches and variations of your desired name to minimize the risk of confusion. Additionally, consider including a unique element or keyword related to your business to make your LLC name stand out. Once you have determined an available name, it is recommended to reserve it promptly by filing the necessary formation documents with the MSS.

Choosing a Registered Agent in Minnesota

Choosing a registered agent is a critical decision when forming an LLC in Minnesota. A registered agent is a designated individual or entity responsible for receiving important legal and official documents on behalf of the LLC, such as tax notices and legal notices. When selecting a registered agent, it is crucial to choose a reliable and trustworthy party that will promptly handle and forward such documents to you. You can opt to act as your own registered agent or enlist the services of a professional registered agent service, which can offer expertise, privacy, and convenience. Examples of reputable registered agent services in Minnesota include:

  1. Northwest Registered Agent: Known for their reliable and efficient service, Northwest Registered Agent provides registered agent services in Minnesota and across the United States. They offer a secure online portal, excellent customer support, and a commitment to privacy and compliance.
  2. LegalZoom: As a well-known legal service provider, LegalZoom offers registered agent services in Minnesota. They have a user-friendly platform, competitive pricing, and a range of additional business formation services to support entrepreneurs.
  3. Incfile: Incfile is another popular choice for registered agent services in Minnesota. They provide affordable options, fast document processing, and a user-friendly platform with helpful resources for LLC formation and compliance.

Filing an LLC in Minnesota

Filing an LLC in Minnesota involves a straightforward process that can be completed through the Minnesota Secretary of State (MSS). OR, you can use a professional service and get it done for you.

To begin, you need to choose a unique and available name for your LLC and appoint a registered agent. Then, you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization with the MSS, providing essential details about your LLC, such as its name, purpose, registered agent, and management structure. There is a filing fee associated with the Articles of Organization.

Once your LLC is approved and registered by the MSS, it is important to fulfill any additional requirements, such as obtaining necessary licenses and permits, creating an operating agreement, and meeting ongoing compliance obligations. The MSS website provides comprehensive resources and forms to guide you through the LLC formation process, ensuring that you establish your business entity in compliance with Minnesota laws and regulations.

Creating an LLC Operating Agreement in Minnesota

While Minnesota law does not require an LLC operating agreement, having one in place is highly recommended. This document outlines the rights, responsibilities, and relationships among LLC members, and establishes rules for decision-making, profit distribution, and member withdrawals or additions.

It helps prevent disputes and provides clarity in operating procedures, ensuring smooth operations and protecting the interests of all members. When drafting an operating agreement, consider consulting with legal professionals to tailor it to your specific needs, address any unique circumstances, and ensure compliance with Minnesota laws.

Getting an EIN in Minnesota

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses for tax purposes. Minnesota-based businesses can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website or by mail or fax using Form SS-4. The EIN is required for various purposes, including hiring employees, opening business bank accounts, and filing taxes.

When applying, be prepared to provide information about your business, such as its legal structure, the reason for applying, and the responsible party’s details. Obtaining an EIN is free of charge, and the online application process typically provides an instant EIN upon completion.

Set up Business Banking, Credit Cards, and Accounting in Minnesota

Opening a Business Bank Account

Opening a dedicated business bank account is a fundamental step in managing your business finances effectively. By separating your personal and business funds, you ensure accurate bookkeeping and streamline financial transactions.

To open a business bank account, start by researching different banks and credit unions in Minnesota to find one that suits your business needs. Prepare the necessary documentation, such as your business formation documents, EIN, and identification proofs. Visit the bank branch or complete an online application, providing the required information.

Once your account is open, you can deposit business income, pay bills, and easily track your business expenses, improving financial organization and simplifying tax reporting.

Getting a Business Credit Card

Obtaining a business credit card offers several advantages for your Minnesota-based business. It allows for separate tracking of business expenses, helps build a credit history for your company, and provides a convenient means of making purchases.

Start by researching credit card options specifically designed for businesses, comparing features, rewards programs, and interest rates. Submit an application, providing the necessary business and personal information. The issuer may evaluate your creditworthiness and may require a personal guarantee, especially for new businesses. Once approved, use your business credit card responsibly, making timely payments and keeping track of expenses.

By utilizing a business credit card, you can better manage cash flow, earn rewards, and establish a credit profile that may be beneficial for future financing needs.

Setting up Business Accounting

Proper business accounting is essential for tracking income, expenses, and overall financial health. Establishing a system to manage your business’s financial records helps ensure compliance with tax regulations and provides valuable insights into your company’s performance.

Consider using accounting software or hiring an accountant to help set up your business accounting system. Track revenue and expenses, reconcile bank statements, and categorize transactions accurately. Keep all relevant documents and receipts organized for easy reference during tax season. Regularly review your financial statements, such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets, to gain a comprehensive understanding of your business’s financial standing.

By maintaining accurate and up-to-date accounting records, you can make informed business decisions, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate financial stability to potential investors or lenders.

Get Business Insurance

Getting business insurance is a critical step in protecting your Minnesota-based business from potential risks and liabilities. Business insurance provides coverage for various scenarios, including property damage, liability claims, and business interruption.

To secure the right insurance coverage, begin by assessing your business’s specific needs and potential risks. Research insurance providers in Minnesota that specialize in business insurance and compare policies, coverage options, and premiums. Consult with an insurance agent or broker who can help tailor a policy to your business’s unique requirements.

By obtaining appropriate business insurance, you can safeguard your assets, mitigate financial risks, and have peace of mind as you navigate the entrepreneurial landscape in Minnesota.

Get Necessary Permits and Licenses

The specific licenses and permits required depend on the nature of your business and its location. To ensure compliance with state and local regulations, research the licenses and permits relevant to your industry and operations.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office are valuable resources for identifying the required licenses and permits. Contact the appropriate government agencies or visit their websites to understand the application process and any associated fees.

By securing the necessary licenses and permits, you can operate your business legally, avoid potential penalties, and build a solid foundation for success in the vibrant business environment of Minnesota.

Hire Employees

When growing your new business in Minnesota, hiring employees can be a significant milestone. Before bringing on staff, it’s important to understand the legal obligations and requirements involved.

Familiarize yourself with federal and state labor laws, including minimum wage and employment eligibility verification. Craft comprehensive job descriptions, create an effective recruitment strategy, and establish fair employment practices. When hiring, consider conducting background checks, completing necessary paperwork such as Form I-9 and Form W-4, and enrolling in workers’ compensation insurance.

By adhering to proper hiring procedures and staying compliant with employment regulations, you can build a talented and legally compliant workforce for your Minnesota business.

Build Your Web Presence

Building a strong web presence is crucial for your new business in Minnesota to reach a wider audience and attract customers.

Start by creating a professional website that reflects your brand and showcases your products or services. Optimize your website for search engines using relevant keywords and quality content. Leverage social media platforms to engage with your target audience and build a community around your brand. Claim your business listings on online directories and review sites to enhance visibility. Consider investing in online advertising to drive targeted traffic to your website. Regularly update your web presence with fresh content and respond to customer inquiries promptly.

By establishing a robust online presence, you can establish credibility, expand your reach, and effectively market your business to the digital-savvy consumers of Minnesota and beyond.

Promote and Market Your Business

Promoting and marketing your new business in Minnesota is essential for creating awareness, attracting customers, and establishing a strong foothold in the market. By utilizing various marketing channels and strategies, you can effectively reach your target audience and drive business growth. Here are some key areas to focus on:

Press Releases

Crafting and distributing press releases can help generate media coverage and increase brand visibility for your Minnesota business. Develop newsworthy stories about your company, such as product launches, milestones, or community involvement, and send them to local newspapers, industry-specific publications, and online news platforms. A well-written press release can create buzz and generate valuable publicity, driving traffic to your website and enhancing your business’s reputation.


Facebook is a powerful social media platform for promoting your Minnesota business. Create a business page and engage with your audience by sharing informative and engaging content, including updates, offers, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Utilize Facebook’s advertising tools to target specific demographics and locations in Minnesota, maximizing the reach of your marketing efforts. Encourage customer reviews and testimonials to build trust and credibility, and actively participate in relevant Facebook groups and communities to expand your network and reach new potential customers.


Utilizing video marketing through YouTube can be a highly effective way to showcase your products or services and engage with your audience. Create informative and engaging videos that highlight the unique aspects of your Minnesota business. These could include tutorials, product demonstrations, or behind-the-scenes footage. Optimize your videos for search engines by using relevant keywords in titles, descriptions, and tags. Engage with your audience through comments and encourage them to subscribe to your channel, building a loyal community around your brand.

Google My Business

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing is crucial for local visibility and attracting customers in Minnesota. Complete your profile with accurate and up-to-date information, including business hours, contact details, and website links. Encourage customers to leave reviews on your GMB listing, as positive reviews can enhance your online reputation and improve your local search rankings. Regularly post updates, events, and special offers on your GMB profile to keep it fresh and engaging. Utilize GMB’s Insights to gain valuable data on how customers are finding and interacting with your business.

In addition to these channels, consider other digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and paid online advertising. Tailor your marketing approach to your target audience, measure the effectiveness of your campaigns through analytics, and continually refine your strategies to maximize results. By implementing a comprehensive and strategic marketing plan, you can effectively promote your Minnesota business, attract customers, and achieve long-term success.