How to Register a Business in Indiana

by Jennifer Kiesewetter in August 15th, 2021
bird's eye view photography of lighted city

TLDR

  • According to Inc., Indianapolis has all the trappings for “big exits, affordability, and tech transplants.” From a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem to a hotbed of talent, founders aren’t the only ones wooed by the city. Investors see the potential for B2B startups as well, investing $14.8 million in seed capital in the city’s startups in 2019, up from $1 million in 2013.
  • When you register your startup in Indiana, you'll need to satisfy several legal requirements to register your business correctly. However, before registering your startup, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, for example, researching the market and potential competitors, map out your financing, plan for operations and personnel, and create a business plan.
  • Before you register your startup in Indiana, in addition to creating a business plan, you must also determine your organization's legal ownership structure.
  • When you’re ready to register your startup, depending upon your chosen business structure, Indiana requires you to choose a unique business name, differing from any other registered businesses in the state. In addition, you must follow Indiana’s business naming conventions, which help make your startup’s name distinguishable.
  • You’ll also need to select and continuously maintain a registered agent who is the designated recipient of any legal and tax documentation on behalf of your startup. You can specify an individual or an entity as your registered agent. Further, your entity itself can serve as the registered agent.
  • Depending upon your chosen business structure, you’ll need to register with the Indiana Secretary of State before commencing operations in the state. You may file your formation forms by US mail or online through the Access Indiana portal.
  • With online filing options, you can register your Indiana startup in as little as a few hours. However, if you mail in your registration forms instead, you may have to wait a few days for your startup to be up and running officially.

The next big startup city? Indianapolis.

According to Inc., Indianapolis has all the trappings for “big exits, affordability, and tech transplants.” From a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem to a hotbed of talent, founders aren’t the only ones wooed by the city. Investors see the potential for B2B startups as well, investing $14.8 million in seed capital in the city’s startups in 2019, up from $1 million in 2013.

 As an up-and-coming tech hub, Indianapolis still feels like a small town, despite being the 17th largest city in the US. It’s also more affordable than the traditional hubs, such as San Francisco or Boston. For example, Indianapolis is 94% less expensive than Boston and 41% cheaper than San Francisco. And, you can get where you need to go easily at the Indianapolis International Airport, boasting more than 145 flights daily to 50+ nonstop locations, such as Chicago, D.C., Boston, and New York.

As a startup founder, if you consider registering your business in Indiana, this article will walk you through what you need to know.

How to Register a Business in Indiana

When you register your startup in Indiana, you'll need to satisfy several legal requirements to register your business correctly. However, before registering your startup, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, for example, researching the market and potential competitors, map out your financing, plan for operations and personnel, and create a business plan.  Indiana provides various resources to help you start a business, helping you identify what resources you’ll need as you launch your startup.

The creation of a business plan is critical to the growth of your startup. Think of it as the foundation of the house you’re building. In drafting your business plan, you’ll want to consider marketing, advertising, sales, location, and ownership, to name a few categories. To help guide you, you can check in with the U.S. Small Business Administration, providing additional guidance for creating a business plan.

Once you’ve identified some of your business’s operation basics, it is then time to register your start-up. Below, we'll walk you through the steps necessary to register your business in Indiana.

Determine Your Business’s Entity Structure

Before you register your startup in Indiana, in addition to creating a business plan, you must also determine your organization's legal ownership structure. For example, you may choose to formally register as a(n):

  • Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Nonprofit Corporation
  • Benefit Corporation
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership

One of the more popular formal associations is the limited liability company or LLC. Similar to other states, an Indiana LLC “is a formal association that combines the advantage of a corporation’s limited liability and the flexibility and single taxation of a general partnership.” LLCs have members, not shareholders, who enjoy limited protection from liabilities and debts, helping to preserve personal assets.

On the other hand, for a corporation, liability protections are not limited in any way. Instead, the corporation itself, as its own entity, absorbs and liabilities or debts associated with the startup. This protection gives additional confidence to shareholders of the corporation.

In Indiana, certain businesses are not required to be registered with Indiana’s Secretary of State: sole proprietorships and general partnerships. A sole proprietorship, for example, is when “[o]ne person conducts business for a profit.” In this type of informal entity, the founder is solely responsible for all debts and obligations associated with the startup. Thus, no shield of liability exists.

Your chosen business entity determines the next steps in registering your startup. Read on to learn about the next steps.

Choose the Name of Your Startup

When you’re ready to register your startup, depending upon your chosen business structure, Indiana requires you to choose a unique business name, differing from any other registered businesses in the state. In addition, you must follow Indiana’s business naming conventions, which help make your startup’s name distinguishable.

To confirm if your startup’s name is distinguishable from other registered businesses, you can use Indiana’s online Check Name Availability search tool.  

Remember, this is only a preliminary search for a similar business name. Once you file your startup’s registration, another name availability search will be conducted when your application is processed.

If you’re not quite ready to register your startup, but you’d like to preserve your startup’s name, you can file a name reservation application with Indiana’s Secretary of State’s office. You may keep your business name reserved for one hundred twenty (120) days.

Identify Your Registered Agent

You’ll also need to select and continuously maintain a registered agent who is the designated recipient of any legal and tax documentation on behalf of your startup. You can specify an individual or an entity as your registered agent. Further, your entity itself can serve as the registered agent.

In Indiana, the registered agent can be an individual or a business. Both must have a street address in Indiana where they can receive the delivery of documents. A PO Box is not acceptable unless it has a rural route reference.

Submit Your Formation Forms

Depending upon your chosen business structure, you’ll need to register with the Indiana Secretary of State before commencing operations in the state. You may file your formation forms by US mail or online through the Access Indiana portal.

Indiana’s Secretary of State provides all business registration forms for your startup. For example, for a corporation, you can use the sample forms provided on the site for your articles of organization, which also notify you of the required filing fee. In addition, you’ll file an article of incorporation for corporations, and for limited partnerships, you’ll file a certificate of limited partnership. All forms are easily downloadable and can be filed online.

 What to Do Next

After you submit your formation forms, registering your startup with the state, you’ll also need to obtain a federal employer identification number for banking and tax filings. Additionally, you’ll need to check in with the State of Indiana and your local city and county to see if there are any additional business registrations required, such as a business license.  

How Long Does It Take to Register a Business in Indiana?

With online filing options, you can register your Indiana startup in as little as a few hours. However, if you mail in your registration forms instead, you may have to wait a few days for your startup to be up and running officially.

Like any other task, preparation is vital. The more you prepare, the faster you’ll complete your registration. By researching your business’s services or products, determining if your startup name is unique, and choosing your ownership structure, you’ll be better prepared to complete the necessary registration forms. 

How Much Does It Cost to Register a Business in Indiana?

Depending upon your chosen entity for your startup, you will have filing fees due when registering your company. For example, if you register as a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership, you’ll pay a filing fee of $100. Suppose you have a business that was formed in a state other than Indiana, but you’d like to conduct business in Indiana. In that case, you’ll pay a filing fee of $125 for a for-profit entity when you file your Foreign Registration Statement.

You’ll also need to file a Business Entity Report every other year at the end of the month of your startup’s original formation. For for-profit entities, the cost to file this report is $30.00 ($22.44 for filing online).

After submitting your registration forms, you need to learn about any required state or local licenses, such as a business license.

Also, depending upon your entity, you may be liable for Indiana’s business taxes, such as withholding, sales tax, and corporate tax. To better understand your state tax obligations as a startup, you can check with the Indiana Department of Revenue, or you should consult with an accountant familiar with Indiana tax laws.

How Do You Register as a Woman-Owned Business in Indiana?

In Indiana, if you are a woman-owned business, you have access to several certificate programs and resources, such as the Minority & Women’s Business Enterprise Divisions and the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, part of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition to the state certification, you can also explore national certifications, such as those offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). For example, the SBA offers three types of certifications for woman-owned businesses, including the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), the women-owned small business (WOSB), and the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). To learn more about these certifications, visit the SBA’s website.

The Benefits of Registering a Business in Indiana

Here are some benefits of registering your startup in Indiana:

  • Zillow recently ranked Indianapolis in the top 10 cities for future tech growth.
  • Indianapolis is much more affordable than other growing cities.
  • In 2020, Smart Asset named Indianapolis as one of the best US cities for women in tech.
  • Chief Executive names Indiana as the 5th best city in the US to conduct business.
  • Indiana has 73 colleges and universities, contributing to a highly-skilled talent pool.

The Limitations Associated with Registering a Business in Indiana

Here are some limitations of registering your startup in Indiana:

  •  Outside of Indianapolis, there is limited diversity.
  • Also, outside of Indianapolis, there is a lack of public transportation. 
  • The winters are bitterly cold! 

We can help!

At AbstractOps, we help early-stage founders streamline and automate regulatory and legal ops, HR, and finance so you can focus on what matters most—your business. If you're looking for help registering your Indiana startup, we can get your documentation ready, overall shepherding this process to ensure it's done right. Drop us a note at hello@abstractops.com.

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