How to Start a Business in North Dakota

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starting a business in north dakota

Nestled amidst the vast prairies and serene landscapes of the American Midwest, North Dakota emerges as an inviting frontier for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to bring their business visions to life. Steeped in a rich tapestry of opportunity and bolstered by a robust economic environment, this northern gem offers a wealth of advantages to those daring enough to embark on the journey of starting a business.

With its friendly community spirit, favorable regulatory landscape, and burgeoning industries, North Dakota presents a promising platform for entrepreneurs ready to turn their dreams into reality.

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Why North Dakota is an Ideal Place to Start a Small Business

North Dakota’s charm extends far beyond its picturesque panoramas; it harbors several key attributes that make it an ideal destination for launching a small business. Firstly, the state boasts a business-friendly environment with low taxes and minimal bureaucratic red tape. For entrepreneurs, this means fewer barriers and a smoother path toward establishing and growing their ventures.

Additionally, North Dakota’s tight-knit and supportive community fosters a collaborative atmosphere that enables networking opportunities and access to skilled labor. This strong sense of community also translates into a loyal customer base, often leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Moreover, the state’s diverse and thriving industries contribute significantly to its allure. From agriculture and energy to technology and manufacturing, North Dakota presents a balanced and resilient economy. The booming oil and gas sectors, in particular, offer lucrative prospects for enterprising minds, while the emerging tech scene opens doors to innovation and tech-driven enterprises.

Furthermore, North Dakota’s relatively low cost of living compared to many metropolitan areas allows entrepreneurs to stretch their resources further, reinvest in their businesses, and enjoy a higher quality of life. Embracing a can-do spirit and a wealth of opportunities, North Dakota beckons entrepreneurs with the promise of a fruitful and fulfilling business journey in the heartland of America.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as of 2021, small businesses in North Dakota accounted for an impressive 99.1% of all businesses in the state.

Steps to Start a Business in North Dakota

  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 North Dakota Secretary of State for an Available Business Name
  6. Register Your LLC
  7. Find a North Dakota Registered Agent
  8. Get Your Federal EIN and North Dakota Tax ID
  9. Open a Business Bank Account and Business Credit Card
  10. Get the Needed North Dakota 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)

Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship requires a crucial foundation: a business idea that aligns with your passion, skills, and the unique opportunities presented by your chosen location. For aspiring entrepreneurs with sights set on the picturesque landscapes and vibrant community spirit of North Dakota, finding the perfect business idea can be the key to unlocking success. This article serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path toward discovering a business venture that not only resonates with your ambitions but also thrives in the fertile plains of the Peace Garden State.

small business ideas in north dakota

Before delving into the realm of business ideas, take the time to understand North Dakota’s economic landscape and local needs. The state thrives in various sectors, including agriculture, energy, technology, and healthcare. According to the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the state has witnessed a surge in renewable energy projects, particularly wind energy, making it a prime ground for green-focused businesses.

Moreover, with a robust oil and gas industry, there are numerous ancillary opportunities catering to the needs of this sector. Embracing and adapting to the region’s predominant industries can provide a solid footing for your business idea.

The fertile grounds of North Dakota offer ample space for entrepreneurs to sow seeds of creativity and ingenuity. Reflect on your passions, interests, and skills to pinpoint a business idea that aligns with your values and expertise. Are you a tech-savvy visionary with a penchant for innovation? Consider exploring opportunities in the emerging tech scene, or perhaps a software development company tailored to the energy sector’s needs.

Alternatively, if you possess a green thumb and a love for sustainability, starting a farm-to-table restaurant or an organic farming business might be the right path for you. By aligning your aspirations with the essence of North Dakota’s community and industries, your business idea can bloom and flourish in harmony with the state’s economic ecosystem.

Heartland’s communities often have specific needs and desires, making them fertile ground for innovative solutions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Dakota’s population has shown steady growth, especially in urban areas, opening opportunities for service-based businesses catering to the growing populace. Engage with local residents, participate in community events, and conduct market research to identify gaps and untapped potentials that your business idea can fulfill. From unique retail concepts to personalized service offerings, catering to the needs and aspirations of the local population can foster a strong sense of community support and loyalty, paving the way to a thriving venture.

In conclusion, starting a business in North Dakota begins with a brilliant and tailored business idea that harmonizes with your passion, skills, and the state’s unique economic landscape. By gaining insights into the region’s industries, connecting with your own strengths and interests, and tapping into community needs, you can sow the seeds of success and watch your entrepreneurial dreams take root and blossom in the fertile prairies of North Dakota.

Fueling Your Business Venture: Securing Funding in North Dakota

When it comes to funding your new business venture in North Dakota, tapping into a diverse range of resources can be the key to turning your entrepreneurial dreams into reality. One of the primary avenues for securing capital is through local venture capital firms. North Dakota boasts several such firms that actively invest in promising startups and innovative ideas. For instance, XYZ Ventures is renowned for supporting businesses in the renewable energy and agriculture sectors, while ABC Capital specializes in technology and healthcare startups. It’s essential to research and identifies venture capital firms that align with your business niche and reaches out to them with a compelling business plan and pitch.

north dakota business funding

Additionally, the state of North Dakota itself offers various resources to support aspiring entrepreneurs in their funding journey. The North Dakota Development Fund (NDDF), administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, provides financing to companies committed to establishing or expanding their operations in the state. The NDDF focuses on projects that create new jobs and diversify the economy, making it an excellent option for businesses with job-creating potential.

Moreover, entrepreneurs can explore the North Dakota Opportunity Fund, which seeks to invest in local businesses and stimulate economic growth throughout the state. These state-backed resources not only offer financial assistance but also provide valuable guidance and mentorship to help entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business.

For entrepreneurs seeking alternative funding options, local banks and credit unions can be a valuable resource. Establishing a strong relationship with a community bank can open doors to small business loans or lines of credit, often with favorable terms. Additionally, North Dakota has a vibrant crowdfunding community where entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to a broad audience and attract micro-investments from individuals who believe in their vision. By combining these local resources with an unwavering commitment to your business idea and a well-thought-out financial plan, you can increase your chances of securing the funding needed to launch and grow your North Dakota venture.

Choosing the Right Business Structure for Your New Venture in North Dakota

When embarking on a new business venture in North Dakota, selecting the appropriate business structure is a crucial decision that can have significant implications on your legal, financial, and operational aspects. There are several business structures to consider, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Here are the four main options commonly chosen by entrepreneurs:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common business structure, ideal for solo entrepreneurs starting small-scale businesses. In this setup, the business and the owner are considered one entity, and the owner assumes full personal liability for business debts and legal obligations. While it offers simplicity and minimal paperwork, the lack of legal separation puts the owner’s personal assets at risk. As a result, this structure may not be the best choice for ventures with significant liability exposure.


Partnerships involve two or more individuals who share ownership, responsibilities, and profits or losses in a business. There are two primary types: general partnerships and limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners share equal liability, while limited partnerships include both general partners (liable for debts) and limited partners (with limited liability). Partnerships can be advantageous for combining diverse skill sets and resources, but like sole proprietorships, they lack legal separation and expose partners to personal liability.


A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) and offers limited liability protection. This means that shareholders’ personal assets are generally shielded from the business’s debts and legal issues. Corporations also have greater access to funding through the issuance of stocks. However, they require more extensive record-keeping, formalities, and taxation compared to other business structures. Furthermore, corporations are subject to double taxation, where both corporate profits and shareholder dividends are taxed.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) structure combines the liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility and simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership. In an LLC, owners, known as members, are generally not personally liable for the company’s debts and obligations. Additionally, an LLC can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation (S-corporation or C-corporation). This flexibility allows business owners to opt for the most tax-efficient arrangement that suits their unique circumstances.

While each business structure has its merits, forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) often emerges as a compelling choice for many entrepreneurs starting a new venture in North Dakota. The LLC structure provides the coveted liability protection that shields personal assets from business debts and legal issues, offering peace of mind to the owners.

Additionally, an LLC’s pass-through taxation ensures that profits and losses flow directly to the members, reducing the complexity of tax filings. By embracing the LLC structure, entrepreneurs can combine the best of both worlds – the protection of a corporation and the operational simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership – thus providing an optimal foundation for their business success in the vibrant and business-friendly landscape of North Dakota.

Registering your North Dakota LLC

LLC’s 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 North Dakota LLC

Choosing a compelling and unique name for your North Dakota 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.

Selecting a unique and distinguishable business name is the first critical step in forming an LLC in North Dakota. Your chosen name must not be already in use by another registered business in the state. To ensure the availability of your desired name, conduct a business name search through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s online database.

north dakota business name search
Click here to search the North Dakota Secretary of State to see if your business name is available

When conducting your LLC name search through the NDSS’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 NDSS.

Choosing a Registered Agent in North Dakota

Choosing a registered agent is a critical decision when forming an LLC in North Dakota. 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 North Dakota include:

  1. Northwest Registered Agent: Known for their reliable and efficient service, Northwest Registered Agent provides registered agent services in North Dakota 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 North Dakota. 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 North Dakota. They provide affordable options, fast document processing, and a user-friendly platform with helpful resources for LLC formation and compliance.

Filing an LLC in North Dakota

Filing an LLC in North Dakota involves a straightforward process that can be completed through the North Dakota Secretary of State (NDSS). 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 NDSS, 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 NDSS, 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 NDSS website provides comprehensive resources and forms to guide you through the LLC formation process, ensuring that you establish your business entity in compliance with North Dakota laws and regulations.

Creating an LLC Operating Agreement in North Dakota

While North Dakota 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 North Dakota laws.

Getting an EIN in North Dakota

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses for tax purposes. North Dakota-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 North Dakota

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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota-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 North Dakota-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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota.

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 North Dakota Department of Revenue and the North Dakota 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 North Dakota.

Hire Employees

When growing your new business in North Dakota, 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 North Dakota business.

Build Your Web Presence

Building a strong web presence is crucial for your new business in North Dakota 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 North Dakota and beyond.

Promote and Market Your Business

Promoting and marketing your new business in North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota, 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota. 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 North Dakota business, attract customers, and achieve long-term success.