How to Set Up a New Business in Wisconsin

How to Set Up a New Business in Wisconsin Credit Suite

Starting a Business in Wisconsin

Written by Janet Gershen-Siegel

A new business in Wisconsin is not out of reach. So have you been wondering: how do I start a new business in Wisconsin?

New Business in Wisconsin: Pros and Cons

Business Insider named Wisconsin the fifth worst state to start a new business in. This is for the whole country. The state has the second lowest rate of new business owners. Also, about three quarters of all new business owners in the state started their businesses due to opportunity rather than unemployment. However, this is the third lowest in the nation.

Wisconsin Top Industries

Per In Wisconsin, the biggest industries in Wisconsin are biohealth, engineering, and food and beverage. Another top industry for Wisconsin is food processing, as Wisconsin is well known for dairy. More top Wisconsin industries are food safety, agriculture, and energy. Yet more top industries in Wisconsin are water technology, forestry, and paper processing. Wisconsin also has a great deal of employment in conservation, aviation, and also manufacturing.

Wisconsin Business Ideas

Smart business owners can find new opportunities. Work with the bigger industries in the state. Offer goods or services such as the development and distribution of safety equipment. Other ideas are food service and hospitality. More ideas are trucking for any industry. And another idea is computer support in areas such as programming and also data.

Here is how to start a new business in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin New Business Secretary of State Requirements

Register a Business Name

Search for business name availability on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website.


A Wisconsin corporation must have a unique name. Choose a name not in use by another corporation registered in the state of Wisconsin. Before filing to incorporate, search online records as well as other registers and catalogs and determine if a name is available.

Search a database of registered Wisconsin corporations at Wisconsin Corporation on (the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website).

Corporate Names and Name Reservations

It is not obligatory to reserve a corporate name before filing to incorporate in Wisconsin. But if a business owner wants to reserve a name before they file to incorporate, they can submit a name reservation application to the office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State. This application is not available online.

The filing fee is $15.00 for this application. Therefore, contact the office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State for more details.

Corporate names in Wisconsin must include the word “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited,” or “company.” Or it can also be an abbreviation of one of these words.

Registered Agents.

A Wisconsin corporation owner must choose a registered agent who will act as an agent for service of process for the corporation. A registered agent receives all legal and tax documents for a corporation. They may choose an adult resident of Wisconsin, or a corporation in Wisconsin. They can also choose a corporate services company as the registered agent. However, a corporation cannot act as its own registered agent.

Business Permits and Licenses

Visit the Department of Safety and Professional Services’ License, Permit and Regulations page.

Local Permits and Licenses

Check with your local municipality, city or county office or website. See if there may be any local licensing or permit requirements.

For example, in Milwaukee, go to the New Business Licenses and Permits page on the city of Milwaukee website.

Business Registration

The Department of Financial Institutions has all the necessary forms.

Tax Registration

You can start with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue‘s very useful FAQs. Then go to their One-Stop Business Portal.

Virtual Office

Alliance offers Wisconsin virtual business office space in the following cities: Appleton, Green Bay, and Milwaukee.

Use Regus for Madison and Oshkosh virtual business offices. For Eau Claire and La Crosse, and also for other parts of the state, ask local business owners. Also try computer user groups for help in this area.

Other options may be virtual business office space in nearby states. These are Illinois and Iowa to the south (Iowa is also to the west). And there are also Michigan to the east, and Minnesota to the west.

Learn more here and get started toward opening a new business in Wisconsin.

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