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Starting a Business in Iowa

A complete step-by-step guide to start your business and get on the fast track to financial success.

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Doing Business In Iowa

Business facts:

Iowa has developed a robust mix of industries from its strong agriculture foundation. Iowa understands its strengths, with focused strategies in place to spur industry growth and job creation. They make it easier for entrepreneurs and global leaders to invest in R&D and plan for the future. The well-integrated transportation system sends the products to market—even if it’s halfway across the world. Companies flourish when given opportunities.

Iowa is top in the country in producing pork, soybeans, corn and eggs. In all, the state is responsible for more than seven percent of America’s food supply.

Iowa is the national leader in renewable energy, particularly ethanol production (first), wind generation output (third) and biodiesel production (second).

Iowa has one of America’s lowest unemployment rates at 4.5 percent, recently adding 1,700 jobs in the financial sector and 6,700 jobs in manufacturing and construction.

Major companies

Iowa is home to large companies such as: Hy-Vee, Casey’s General Stores, Rockwell Collins, Principal Financial Group, University of Iowa, Fareway Stores, HNI, Pella, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, IOWA STATE UNIV EMPLOYEES CREDIT UNION

Small business and startup environment

Iowa has 243,932 small businesses, according to the most current federal data available. 

Of those 243,932 small businesses in Iowa, 67,648 have employees. The remaining 176,284 are Iowa small businesses that have no employees.

The Iowa Startup Accelerator is an intensive program that matches tech-based startups, especially those in ag, health, education, manufacturing and transportation technology, with world-class mentors, Midwestern work ethic, seed funding and development expertise to take them from concept to successful launch in 90 days.

Iowa Startup Accelerator came to be thanks to a founding group of individuals who thought Iowa could do more, and be better at, developing tech-based startup companies.

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and private liberal arts college Grinnell College, announced the launch of Techstars Iowa, a new accelerator program in Des Moines, Iowa. The mentorship-driven accelerator will be Techstars‘ first program in the state of Iowa. Open to startups addressing innovations across a broad technology landscape, and to those who will benefit particularly from the Iowa ecosystem, the program will welcome 10 startups in its inaugural year.

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Business Structure

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Business Name

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Business Registration

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EIN Tax Number

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Bank Account

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Licenses & Permits

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Branding & Marketing

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Step 1: Choose A Business Structure

The most common business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and a few different types of corporations—the standard corporation (often called a C corporation or “C corp”), the small business corporation (often called an S corporation or “S corp”), and the benefit corporation (often called a B corporation or “B corp”).

The most common business structures are:

Step 2: Choose The Right Business Name

Choosing a business name is important, you want to make it easier for your customers to remember it, here are some tips:

  1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
  2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
  3. Conduct a thorough Internet search.
  4. Search and purchase a domain name.
  5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
  6. Conduct a trademark search.

Step 3: Register Your Business

Depending on the business structure you chose you will need to register your business.

Resale license site 

Department of corporations 

Step 4: Obtain an EIN Tax Number

With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can’t hire employees or open a business bank account.

Click Here to Apply for EIN number online

Step 5: Open A Bank Account

– Open a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

– Get a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Licenses & Permits

Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).

Here are some links for Iowa Businesses:

Selling products? Check Iowa Resale Permit

Business Licensing for the State of Iowa

Step 7: Branding & Marketing

Your brand is the image customers have of your business, so it’s important to determine who is your audience and what is the message that you want to project. That way, your company’s image will be what you intend it to be. It should be strategic and intentional.

Step 8: Establish a Web Presence

Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms. A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

Join Local Networks

Iowa Business Incubator Network


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