Business FAQs

Where can I register my business name?

Business Name Registration


Some counties have a business name registration ordinance. For other, business owners who choose to use a name other than their full given name may wish to register their business name with the County Clerk's office or Register of Deeds for the county, to clarify who the principal operator of that business is. If you use your full personal name for the business, this process would be unnecessary unless required by your county.


If you are a sole proprietor or have a general partnership, check with the Secretary of State at 608.266.5653 to learn if a name has already been registered, to register your business name, or to apply for a Mark/Trademark.


If you are a limited partnershipcorporation, etc., call the Department of Financial Institutions at 608.261.7577, press 5, to learn if a name has already been registered. The Department of Financial Institutions, (formerly part of the Secretary of State Office.) Visit: to search the Corporate Registration Information System (CRIS) and/or download forms.


There is a $15 fee to register with the state. Registering is not required but it puts your name on file. It does not incorporate a business nor does it provide employer identification numbers, state or federal. It does not put your business on file with the Department of Revenue.



Where can I find basic business forms and checklists to help me with my business? 

BizFilings -

Provides services that help small business owners form a corporation, an LLC, or other business structure quickly and efficiently online or by telephone. Also offers business filing and compliance products.



Where can I find sample business plans online?

Business Plan Samples -

Features articles about business planning. Designed to sell their software product, but contains useful free information.



Where can I find customized information to help you start and operate a Wisconsin-based business?

Business Wizard –

Provides customized information to help you start and operate a Wisconsin-based business. Also covers licensing, permitting and regulatory requirements for the State of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) 


Where can I get information about patents?

Delphion -

Access to patent information along with tools to help you use patent information.


U.S. Patent & Trademark Office –

It’s not who invents it - it’s who gets to the Patent Office first that matters. This site offers searchable indexes on patents, legal material, patent resources, trademark and copyright issues, technical information and much more.



Where can I get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)?

Employer Identification Number –

The new Web-based EIN Assistant instantly processes requests and generates Employer Identification Numbers in real time. Simply answer the questions and receive your EIN immediately after the information is validated. You can download and print the EIN confirmation notice.



Where can I get answers to my exporting questions?

Export Information –

In an effort to help small businesses with their exporting questions, the Federal Government has provided this website.



How can I learn about health inspection requirements for my business?

Health Department Inspection

Businesses that involve the sale of food or lodging (and hair salons) will generally have health inspection requirements. These may be determined by consulting the State Division of Health or the local county Health Department, which is often the enforcement body for state health regulations and inspections. The Wisconsin Division of Health Environmental Sanitation Unit phone number is 608.266.2835. The Brown County Health Department phone number is 920.448.6400.



Where else can I learn more about starting, managing and growing my business?

SBA Online –

If you’re starting a small business, looking for financing or other help, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) contains a wealth of resources for businesses.


ASBDC business resources -



Where can I get market research to help me make business decisions?


Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) serves as a resource dedicated to meeting the information needs of SBDC counselors and clients. Services include a database of forms, documents, brochures and promotional materials; secondary market research data; demographic information location; site location analysis; business plans and financial ratio information; basic patent and trademark searches; pertinent business articles, e-commerce, market research, rural business and site location training.


Wisconsin Innovation Service Center -

The Wisconsin Innovation Service Center helps clients make informed decisions by providing research on market opportunities, customers and competition.  


Do I need a seller's permit and how do I get one?

Seller's Permits -

Seller's permits are required of every individual, partnership, corporation, or other organization making retail sales or rentals of tangible personal property or retail sales of taxable services in Wisconsin. In requesting a Seller's Permit, the business must forecast the amount of sales tax liability anticipated. Generally your reporting period will be quarterly unless the Department of Revenue notifies you in writing that your returns must be filed monthly or annually.

Sales to customers in other states may be subject to different tax. Check with the Department of Revenue in that state. Contact the Department of Revenue at608.266.2776 (Madison)



As a business owner, what do I need to know about Social Security?

Social Security Social Security -

Business owners generally have to file estimated federal income taxes on a quarterly basis. At that time, their Social Security obligations will also be computed by filling out the quarterly estimated tax form. The maximum tax on earnings for 2006 is $94,200. The self-employed rate is 15.3%. An employer and employee each pay 7.65% towards Social Security/Medicare. For further information, call 800.772.1213 or visit their website.



Where can I learn about state income tax withholding and/or sales tax?

State Withholding Tax ID Number -

Almost all businesses selling retail products are required to collect sales tax. Some businesses providing a service also collect sales tax. Wisconsin's sales tax law is that all services are exempt unless specifically listed. Consult the Department of Revenue608.266.2776 (Madison) or visit their website.



Where can I access a free database of American manufacturers?

Thomas Register Home Page –

Thomas Register on the Internet is the world’s largest online industrial buying source. Finding the product, service, or company you need is a snap, since the entire database of the acclaimed Thomas Register or American Manufacturers is available for your use online. You can search through 155,000 companies in the database classified under more than 55,000 product and service headings. Plus, more than 2,300 online supplier catalogs give you 40,000 pages of detailed buying and specifying information. Must complete a registration form (free) to search.


 More resources. . .