Starting a Business in Indiana – A Comprehensive Guide

How to Start a Business in Indiana 

Entering the business world in Indiana comes with many exciting prospects and challenges. That’s why it’s crucial to have a strong business idea. This guide gives useful advice and resources for new entrepreneurs and seasoned business leaders who want to start or expand their businesses in Indiana.

This guide is perfect for those starting their first business or experienced professionals who want to grow their business in Indiana. Whether you’re launching a new venture or planning for growth, this guide will help you understand the business environment in Indiana.

State capitol of Indiana for article on how to start a business in IndianaTop Two Benefits of Starting a Business in Indiana:

  1. Indiana’s location in the heart of the Midwest and its reliable infrastructure make reaching diverse markets easy.
  2. The state government of Indiana supports businesses with favorable policies, and a solid legal framework makes it an attractive place for start-ups and larger companies.

Top Two Challenges When Starting a Business in Indiana:

  1. Indiana has a bustling market with many well-established businesses so newcomers may face much competition.
  2. The cost of living and business in major cities like Indianapolis or Fort Wayne can be higher than in other areas.

We will provide more details and specific insights about doing business in Indiana throughout this guide.

Regulatory Factors and Taxes in Indiana

Indiana maintains fair regulations to preserve public safety, consumer rights, and environmental protection while fostering business growth. In addition, the state ensures that its rules do not hinder the advancement and success of businesses.

Understanding state corporate income tax is vital for any business’s financial planning. In Indiana, the corporate income tax is a flat rate of 4.9 percent on business profits, which is comparatively low when you look at other states. Plus, Indiana has a graduated personal income tax, with rates ranging from 3.23 percent to 3.4 percent, which may be a consideration for business owners.

Indiana also imposes a state sales tax of 7 percent on most goods and services. If you run a business in Indiana, whether a physical store or an online operation, you’ll be responsible for collecting this tax from your customers and submitting it to the state.

Indiana’s tax environment is attractive to many businesses, despite the sales tax, due to the relatively low corporate tax rate. This competitive tax structure assists businesses in sustaining reasonable pricing and healthy profit margins.

How do I Choose a Business Structure?

There are five primary types of businesses. Each type of business entity is described below.

Sole Proprietorship

A business owned and operated by one individual with no legal distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. Most small business owners in Indiana use this business type.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A flexible business organization that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. Owners of an LLC are called members, and their assets are typically protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. You have the flexibility to define many aspects of how your business will work in your Articles of Organization.

S-Corporations

A type of corporation allows for pass-through taxation, meaning that profits and losses are passed through to the shareholders and reported on their tax returns. S-Corporations are limited to 100 shareholders and must meet specific eligibility requirements. An S-Corp can be particularly advantageous if the founders or investors have other income. If the business doesn’t generate a profit in any year, the shareholders can use the losses from a tax perspective.

C-Corporations

A separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) means that the corporation can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued. C-Corporations are subject to double taxation, meaning that the corporation and the shareholders are taxed on profits.

A Note About S-Corps and C-Corps

For both S-Corporations and C-Corporations, your business formation documents will include Articles of Incorporation, sometimes called a Corporate Charter. The specific requirements and format of Articles of Incorporation can vary by jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with a business attorney or online legal service such as Legal Zoom to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations when drafting and filing these documents.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership that limits the personal liability of its partners. LLPs are typically used by professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, and architects. Each partner is protected from the other partners’ wrongful acts, omissions, and negligence, but they may still be personally liable for their actions.

Distribution of Businesses

Business Type Percent of Businesses in Indiana
Sole Proprietorship 45-50%
Limited Liability Company (LLC) 10-15%
S-Corporation 7%
C-Corporation 6%
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) 2%

It is important to keep in mind that the percentages can fluctuate from year to year and may differ based on the industry and location. It is also worth noting that the data may encompass businesses registered in states other than Indiana yet operating within the state.

What is an Employer Identification Number – EIN?

Definition of an EIN or Employer Identification Number

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit identifier the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses operating within the United States. This number is critical in managing your business tax requirements and is often called the Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).

Do I Need One to Start a Business in Indiana?

In Indiana, you need an EIN to incorporate your business, form a partnership, hire staff, apply for business permits, or open a business bank account. This crucial identifier simplifies the task of managing your business’s tax obligations.

How Do I Get One?

Acquiring an EIN is straightforward. You can apply for one directly through the IRS website or submit Form SS-4 to the IRS via mail or fax. The quickest method to secure your EIN is by applying for it online, as you receive the number immediately after completing the application. If you require further assistance or information, you can reach out to the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 (for businesses) or visit their website at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers.

How to Start a Business in Indiana – Important Registrations

Registering My Business Name

Contact the Secretary of State’s office to register your business name in Indiana officially. You can reach them by calling (800)-457-8283 or visiting their website at https://www.in.gov/sos/.

Registering a DBA (Doing Business As) If Relevant

If your business is not registered under its legal name, you must register a fictitious name, or DBA, through the Secretary of State’s office. Indiana has 92 counties, each with its local government services and regulations.

You can find a detailed directory of Indiana’s local governments on this website: https://www.in.gov/core/. It provides contact information for each municipality, which can be helpful for businesses needing to understand local regulations or requirements.

Registering for Payroll, State Payroll Taxes, and Unemployment Insurance

To register for state payroll taxes and unemployment insurance in Indiana, you must set up an account with the Indiana Department of Revenue. Visit their website at https://www.in.gov/dor/ or contact them at (317) 232-2240.

Registering for Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Businesses in Indiana should connect with a licensed provider to secure worker’s compensation insurance. If you use a payroll service, they should also be able to provide worker’s comp.

Registering for Collecting Sales Tax

Businesses functioning in Indiana must register to collect sales tax. This can be done via the Indiana Department of Revenue website: https://www.in.gov/dor/.

Registering for Income Tax

Businesses operating in Indiana should register for corporate income state tax through the Indiana Department of Revenue. You can contact them at (317) 232-2240 or visit their website https://www.in.gov/dor/.

Registering to Pay Property Tax

If you want to register for property tax in Indiana, you need to contact the assessor’s office in your local county. For additional details, you can visit the website of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance: https://www.in.gov/dlgf/.

Permits for Starting a Business in Indiana

Do I Need a Business Permit to Operate a Business in Indiana?

At the State Level: Certain sectors in Indiana require state-level permits or licenses to operate. You can check this information on the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency website. Visit https://www.in.gov/pla/ to see if your business needs any state permits or licenses.

Check With Your City: Reach out to your local city government or business licensing office to find out if any city-specific permits are needed for your business. Each city might have different requirements based on local laws.

Check With Your Country: Operating a business in your country requires compliance with specific regulations and obtaining necessary permits. You can acquire this information by contacting the clerk’s office in your county.

Check With Your County: Indiana comprises 92 counties, each potentially having varying rules and licensing requirements. Contact your local county office to understand local regulations and business permit requirements.

Visit https://www.in.gov/core/lg_directory.html.

The requirements can substantially differ based on your business’s nature and location. Therefore, consulting with the relevant authorities is highly recommended before setting up your business.

How do I learn about any special permits I need for my business?

If you plan to start a business in Indiana, you must know of any permits or licenses required for your industry. These requirements may vary depending on location, business size, and type. To avoid legal issues and potential fines, conducting thorough research and complying with all regulations is essential.

Thankfully, there are various resources available to assist you. The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency is a valuable resource that supports licensing and permit requirements. You can visit their website for specific information or schedule a meeting with their team for further assistance.

In addition, your local chamber of commerce or small business development center can guide regulatory compliance. These organizations specialize in helping small business owners to navigate complex rules.

Financing Options for Entrepreneurs in Indiana

Finding the right financing avenues is key for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a business in Indiana. Beyond personal assets and credit cards, Indiana has a broad range of funding sources, including federal and local resources.

Financing a New Business

Identifying the suitable funding choice for your new venture can seem overwhelming, but it’s crucial for your business’s development and sustainability. Various options exist, including loans, grants, and investments from venture capitalists or angel investors. Detailed research and planning are essential to identify the financial resources that align best with your business goals.

SBA Loans and Microloans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers numerous loan programs to help budding entrepreneurs elevate their businesses, including microloans. Microloans are typically small, short-term loans that provide immediate access to funding for small businesses.

Visit:https://smallbusinessplans.com/sba-microloans-for-small-businessess-and-startups/

In Indiana, organizations such as the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation and Flagship Enterprise Center act as intermediaries for SBA microloans, providing vital capital to eligible businesses. They also offer services like business mentoring and training to support new ventures.

SBA Microlenders in Indiana

Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation

Cynthia Pizarro

4181 East 96th Street,

Suite 200 Indianapolis, IN 46240

Phone: (317)-844-9820

Email:info@iscdc.com

Flagship Enterprise Center

Charles Staley

2705 Enterprise Drive Anderson, IN 46013

Phone: (765)-622-0100

Neighborhood Self Employment Initiative, Inc.

Carrie Henderson

111 Monument Circle, suite 1950 IN 46204

Phone:(317)-464-2258

Website: http://www.businessownership.org/

State and Local Grants and Incentives

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation provides various grants and incentives to stimulate business activity within the state. Notable programs include

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business

Technology Transfer programs – These programs help businesses secure federal funding for R&D initiatives.

The Hoosier Business Investment Tax Credit – Provides tax credits to businesses making capital investments to support the growth and retention of the workforce.

Angel Investor Groups

Startups frequently turn to venture capitalists and angel investors for vital funding. These investors provide a crucial capital source in exchange for equity shares or convertible debt. Indiana hosts several investment groups, such as Elevate Ventures and VisionTech Partners, which offer substantial funding opportunities and networking platforms for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Securing the proper funding is a vital part of launching a successful business. Hence, exploring all available financing options is crucial in finding the best fit for your business venture.

Benefits of a Well-Structured Business Plan

A solid business plan is an indispensable tool for any entrepreneur starting a business in Indiana. It serves as the backbone of your business, defining your strategy, goals, and the path you plan to take to achieve success. A well-structured business plan can be particularly beneficial in the Indiana business landscape.

Firstly, it provides clarity. A good business plan outlines your business’s mission, vision, and operational strategy, allowing you to understand your business from every angle. This clarity is essential when entering Indiana’s diverse economy, which spans industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and tech. With a clear plan, you can confidently enter your chosen market, fully understanding your business’s value proposition and competitive advantage.

Secondly, a well-crafted business plan helps attract potential investors and partners. Indiana has a vibrant ecosystem of angel investors, venture capitalists, and business development organizations looking for promising startups to support. A detailed, compelling business plan can show them your business is worth investing in. It paints a picture of your business’s future and outlines how investors will benefit from supporting your venture.

Additionally, a business plan aids in decision-making and problem-solving. It functions as a roadmap, guiding you when making crucial business decisions. In the unpredictable business environment of Indiana, where economic conditions can shift due to factors like market trends or state legislation, a business plan helps you stay on track. It provides a strategic focus and helps mitigate risk by preparing for potential challenges and setting goals to overcome them.

Lastly, a well-structured business plan is often a requirement for obtaining loans or grants in Indiana. Banks and financial institutions need to see that you have a solid plan in place and that your business has a high likelihood of success before they will consider providing financing. The better your business plan, the better your chances of securing the funding to get your business off the ground.

Creating a well-structured business plan is not just a formality but a strategic tool that can significantly impact the success of your business in Indiana. From providing clarity and attracting investment to guiding decision-making and securing financing, the benefits of a good business plan are manifold. If you’re starting a business in Indiana, crafting a comprehensive business plan is a step you want to take.

Meeting Lender and Investor Expectations

Navigating the world of lenders and investors is critical to starting or growing a business in Indiana. The state’s vibrant financial scene, with banks, credit unions, venture capitalists, and angel investors, can provide the funds to make your business dream a reality. However, meeting lender and investor expectations is not always an easy task. Here’s what you need to know.

Firstly, lenders and investors in Indiana expect to see a strong business plan. This plan should outline your business model, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, and financial projections. It should also demonstrate a deep understanding of your target market and clearly articulate how your product or service meets a need within this market. This thoroughness in your business plan shows potential lenders and investors that you have a clear path toward profitability, which minimizes their risk.

Secondly, financial understanding is paramount. Lenders and investors in Indiana want to see that you have a strong handle on your finances. This means understanding your costs, revenue streams and projected financial growth. Moreover, they want to see that you can manage business funds responsibly. For lenders, your credit history may come into play, while investors may look for evidence of financial management in your professional background.

Next, your team’s credibility can play a significant role in meeting lender and investor expectations. Your management team’s skills, experience, and qualifications can instill confidence in your business’s potential for success. Showcasing a strong team suggests that your business is more than just an idea but a serious venture backed by competent individuals.

Lastly, lenders and investors in Indiana appreciate entrepreneurs who demonstrate resilience and adaptability. Businesses inevitably encounter hurdles, and the Indiana market, with its unique challenges and opportunities, is no exception. However, showing that you can navigate obstacles and pivot when necessary is a strong sign that you can handle whatever comes your way in your business journey.

Where Can I Find a Mentor to Help Me Succeed?

If you’re an entrepreneur aiming for success in Indiana, seeking guidance from experienced mentors and professionals can be a game-changer. Whether legal advice, business strategy, or industry insights, these experts can provide valuable assistance and help you navigate Hoosier State’s business landscape effectively.

Indiana boasts several resources and organizations committed to helping entrepreneurs thrive. Here are some of the notable ones you can consider:

  1. Indiana SCORE: As part of the nationwide SCORE, a non-profit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Indiana SCORE provides free business mentoring, low-cost workshops, and various resources to help you grow your business.
    Contact Info:
    Phone: (317) 934-0056
    Website: https://indianapolis.score.org/

  2. Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC): The ISBDC provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with expert guidance and resources, including help with business plan creation, financial analysis, and marketing strategies.
    Contact Info:
    Phone: (317) 234-2082
    Website: https://isbdc.org/

  3. Launch Indiana: Launch Indiana is dedicated to creating a statewide culture and environment of entrepreneurship and innovation. They offer mentoring programs, educational resources, and networking events to connect entrepreneurs with the support they need.
    Contact Info:
    Email: info@launchindiana.org
    Website: https://www.launchindiana.org/

  4. Venture Club of Indiana: This organization provides networking opportunities, education, and support for entrepreneurs, investors, and the broader Indiana business community. It’s an excellent resource for connecting with potential investors and like-minded professionals. Contact Info:
    Email: admin@ventureclub.org
    Website: http://ventureclub.org/


Tapping into these resources can provide you with the necessary knowledge, network, and mentorship to start and grow your business in Indiana.

The Economy of Indiana

Understanding the economy of Indiana is crucial for entrepreneurs planning to set up a business there. Knowledge of economic patterns, consumer tendencies, and potential growth opportunities can significantly affect your venture’s success. In addition, a robust economy often provides a fertile ground for new businesses to flourish.

Economic Overview

Average Household Income

The median household income in Indiana stands at $61,944, slightly lower than the national average. Despite this, Indiana’s diverse population and stable economy present a broad business customer base.

Average Level of Education

In terms of education, a noteworthy segment of Indiana’s population aged 25 and over (around 88.1%) have completed high school, while a decent portion (about 28.9%) hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This reflects a well-educated workforce in the state, which is a plus point for businesses searching for skilled employees.

Consumer Spending per Capita

The consumption expenditures (PCE) in Indiana are approximately $42,697. Although lower than some other states, it still indicates considerable consumer spending and a vibrant market for various goods and services. Moreover, the consistent growth of PCE suggests an expanding demand that holds potential for business revenue.

Gaining insights into these economic factors can enable entrepreneurs to make informed decisions and effectively cater to the needs of the Indiana market. Therefore, conducting a comprehensive analysis and developing a solid business strategy aligned with these trends is important.

Top Industries in Indiana:

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Manufacturing dominates Indiana, accounting for nearly 27.8% of the state’s total output and employing 17.2% of the workforce. Particularly, Indiana is the nation’s leading producer of steel, which accounts for 27% of U.S. steel production.

Agriculture also plays a key role, contributing roughly $31.2 billion to Indiana’s economy, as per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Indiana is the country’s tenth-largest farming state, with over 56,000 farms spread across 14.5 million acres. Indiana also stands out in corn and soybean production, ranking fifth and fourth in the U.S.

The healthcare and life sciences industry represents another vital sector. A BioCrossroads report showed that Indiana’s life sciences exports totaled $10.2 billion, making it the second-largest exporting industry in the state. More than 56,000 people work in life sciences companies in Indiana, with an average wage of $98,934.

Information Technology is emerging as a significant industry in Indiana. According to TechPoint, Indiana’s tech industry contributed an estimated $7.7 billion to the state’s economy in 2020, representing a 120% growth from 2002. In addition, the tech workforce in the state has grown by 18% since 2010.

Looking forward, emerging industries such as renewable energy and tech-based agriculture are showing promising growth. For example, Indiana ranked 12th in the U.S. for installed wind energy capacity, with over 2000 MW installed, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the realm of tech-based agriculture, the state is taking steps to integrate IoT technologies with farming practices to boost yield and sustainability.

These statistics show Indiana’s robust and diversified economy provides fertile ground for entrepreneurs and businesses to flourish. Moreover, the positive trends in these sectors indicate a promising future for business ventures in the state.

Thinking Broadly About Growing Your Business in Indiana

  1. Identify Complementary Businesses: The synergy between complementary businesses in Indiana can significantly fuel growth and innovation. For instance, a tech startup could find strategic alliances with established IT companies or educational institutions in the state. Such collaborations allow for resource sharing and open avenues for cross-promotion and increased market reach. Given Indiana’s thriving business sectors, there’s substantial scope for identifying and collaborating with complementary enterprises to foster mutual growth.
  2. Leverage Workforce Talent: Indiana’s diverse economy, known for its strong manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and emerging tech sectors, is backed by a skilled and educated workforce. Businesses can leverage this talent pool to drive innovation and improve productivity. In addition, the state’s numerous higher education institutions, including Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, also provide a steady flow of skilled graduates each year. Therefore, Indiana companies can tap into this rich talent reservoir to support their growth and development.
  3. Collaborate with Industry Leaders: Collaborating with industry leaders can help new businesses in Indiana learn from experienced players, access broader networks, and gain credibility. Whether you’re in manufacturing, technology, or agriculture, Indiana is home to several industry-leading companies, such as Eli Lilly in the pharmaceutical industry and Cummins in engine manufacturing. Building relationships with these established entities can provide invaluable insights, mentorship, and potential partnership opportunities to help you successfully navigate the state’s business landscape.

Workforce and Talent

Understanding the labor market and the talent pool in Indiana is a significant factor when mapping out your business strategies. A grasp of the state’s workforce demographics, education levels, and skill sets can offer invaluable guidance in your recruitment and expansion plans.

Unemployment Rate

Indiana’s vibrant economy spans various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and technology. According to the most recent statistics, Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.0%, signaling a robust job market indicative of the labor supply businesses can access.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. This figure is fundamental for businesses when planning their financial models and setting employee wage structures.

Average Age and Demographics

The median age in Indiana is around 37.8 years, denoting a relatively young workforce. In addition, the state has a balanced gender distribution, with 49.2% males and 50.8% females. Understanding these demographic profiles can assist businesses in tailoring their products or services to cater to the unique needs of different demographic cohorts.

Breakdown of People with Various Levels of Education

Focusing on people aged 25 and above in Indiana, the education level is as follows:

  1. 28.9% hold a bachelor’s degree.
  2. 88.1% have a high school diploma.
  3. 11.7% have no high school diploma.

This insight into the educational background of the potential workforce is vital for businesses. It can guide you in making strategic hiring decisions, ensuring you recruit the talent best suited to your business needs in Indiana.

Top Areas of Skilled Workers for Residents of Indiana

Indiana is home to a diverse array of industries that contribute to its robust economy. The state offers many opportunities for skilled workers, from manufacturing and healthcare to technology and education. These sectors support the state’s economic growth and offer residents numerous career paths to explore.

Manufacturing is vital to Indiana’s economy and employs many skilled workers. The state is renowned for its automobile manufacturing industry, with factories from global giants like General Motors and Toyota. This industry opens up opportunities for engineers, technicians, and logistics experts. However, it’s not just limited to automobile manufacturing; there’s also a robust presence of pharmaceutical manufacturing and steel production, offering a broad spectrum of job opportunities.

Healthcare is another prominent sector in Indiana, providing numerous opportunities for medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and healthcare administrators. The state’s numerous hospitals, clinics, and medical research institutions continuously seek out qualified individuals to join their ranks. The growing emphasis on healthcare technology and digital health services also offers exciting opportunities for professionals skilled in information technology and data analysis.

The technology sector in Indiana is also flourishing, attracting software developers, data scientists, IT specialists, and cybersecurity experts. Indiana’s tech scene is vibrant and diverse, with numerous startups and established tech companies operating in fields ranging from software development and cloud computing to cybersecurity and AI. This diversity means a wealth of job opportunities for skilled tech professionals.

Furthermore, Indiana’s educational sector provides excellent opportunities for educators and administrative staff. With many schools, colleges, and universities, there’s always a demand for teachers, lecturers, counselors, and administrators. Additionally, the sector opens doors for professionals skilled in EdTech and remote learning technologies, reflecting the changing education landscape.

In summary, Indiana’s rich industry landscape provides abundant opportunities for its residents. Moreover, its diverse range of sectors means that no matter your skillset or interest, a promising career path will likely await you in Hoosier State.

You Can Write a Great Business Plan - cover of 60 page booklet

Ready to complete your business plan in just 1 day?

Click GET STARTED to learn more about our fill-in-the-blank business plan template.  We'll step you through all the details you need to develop a professional business plan in just one day!

Successfully used by thousands of people starting a business and writing a business plan.  It will work for you too!