Starting a company

How to Start a Business In Iowa

Key Takeaways

  • If you're willing to put in the work, starting a business in Iowa may be fun and lucrative.
  • To start a business in Iowa that will succeed, one must devote a lot of effort and money.
  • Wait until you're confident there's a market for what you're selling in Iowa.
  • To get investors to help pay for your company's growth, you need a business plan that shows how your company will grow from a small start-up to a huge success.
  • There are several options available to you if you want to wait to invest in your company. The legal framework you establish for your company will significantly impact its development.

When it comes to blending history and modernity, Hawkeye State is unparalleled. One positive aspect is that it provides over seven percent of the food in the United States and is thus known as the "breadbasket" of the country. Nonetheless, it is a frontrunner in renewable energy provision, ranking first in the United States in ethanol production and third in wind power and biofuels.

Iowa's business-friendly climate is a significant factor in the state's ability to blend the past and present successfully. Iowa is a beautiful place to live, regardless of whether you seek a peaceful, traditional lifestyle or want to be on the leading edge of the charge into the future. 

What Are the Steps to Starting a Business in Iowa? 

1. Settle On A Viable Business Idea

First, you must ask yourself what kind of business you want to start. You may already have a few different concepts brewing in your mind, or you haven't even gone that far. Whichever way you look at it, the best approach to figuring out where you could find tremendous success is to study the state in question and your skillset in detail.

2. Refine Your Idea

After selecting a company concept, you should evaluate the possibility in further detail. 

Track down a window of possibility

To begin, think about whether or not your company concept can succeed. When starting a firm, profitability should not be assumed because it demands financial investment. Instead, focus on gathering information and feedback from individuals you trust about your concept. Business profiles, demographic data, and more are all available to those who visit the Iowa Department of Economic Development's website.

Select your goods and services

Identifying what it is that you're selling is the next step. You might upsell complementary items and services to enhance average order value and customer satisfaction. Take your time and be very sure because this phase will determine how your business appears to clients and why they will buy.

Indicate to whom you are selling

Sales and marketing success depends on a deep understanding of one's intended audience. This is where knowledge of your typical clientele might be helpful. You must first determine if you are selling to individuals or other companies. Learning about your target audience is essential for crafting effective marketing messages and deciding where to deploy them. Next, identify the kind of businesses that might be interested in purchasing your product or service. The next step is to identify the appropriate decision-maker inside these organizations, which may be a vice president, IT manager, or head of sales. And make the proper changes to your advertising.

3. Choose A Name for Your Business

Pick a name for your company that expresses your goals, offerings, and ethos in a concise and memorable way. You'd likely choose a name that is both brief and simple to remember. Once you have a list of possible names, you may verify their registration status with the Secretary of State's office. In addition, you must make sure the proposed business name complies with Iowa's rules on such matters. Check the Iowa statutes to make sure your actions are legal there.

You should also use the Domain Name Checker to see whether the desired domain name is available and if the name has already been trademarked nationally. Focusing on domains ending in ".com" or ".org" significantly boosts trustworthiness. Once you've settled on a name that meets these requirements, you may file it with the county clerk or, if your company will be incorporated, the Secretary of State. To guarantee its availability when you're ready to register, you can hold it for up to 120 days with the Secretary of State. The cost is $10.

4. Create A Business Plan

Writing a business plan might be a scary proposition, but it's a necessary part of starting a company. Your start-up may use the strategy as a road map to help it get off the ground and stay focused on its primary objectives. Partners and investors may learn more about your company's vision and goals by reviewing your business plan.

5. Filing a Business Registration

Choosing your business's location is an important decision because it can affect your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. But you've already decided to launch your business in Iowa, so we can check that box. Each type of business has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The taxes, personal liability, and registration needs of your firm will all be affected by the legal form you pick.

Sole Proprietorship

Small firms typically take the form of sole proprietorships since they are the most straightforward legal entity to form. Due to the lack of a separate legal entity, this company is considered to be an extension of its owner. When conducting business as a sole proprietor in Iowa, there is no requirement to file your business with the state. It's as easy as registering your business name with the county and getting the necessary licenses and permissions to open for business.

General Partnership

If two or more persons decide to join a business entity together, they might choose to form a general partnership, which is analogous to a sole proprietorship. Once again, they get to retain the pre-tax gains but must shoulder the burden of any losses or obligations as a team. A general partnership is one in which all of the partners are "general partners" and share in the risk equally.

A general partnership in Iowa can be formed without filing any paperwork with the state, much like a sole proprietorship. Getting started in business is as easy as registering your chosen business name and acquiring the necessary licenses.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Professionals in the legal, accounting and design fields tend to use this company form. It's more formal than a general partnership, and it lets partners divide up management duties and cap their personal exposure to loss. When one or more partners choose to participate in the firm but take on minimal managerial roles, this structure might be an attractive option.

A Certificate of Limited Partnership must be filed with the Iowa Secretary of State together with the $100 filing fee in order to establish an LLP in the state formally.


A corporation is the next level of business organization, with its own legal personality and distinct from its shareholders. In this setup, gains are distributed to shareholders as dividends rather than going to the owners' pockets. Forming a company in Iowa necessitates a second decision about whether to structure the business as a C or S corporation. Company formation in Iowa requires filing articles of incorporation with the state's Secretary of State. The cost to submit paperwork is $50.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a business entity that combines corporate protections with the flexibility of a single proprietorship. The owners are shielded from personal responsibility for business debts and obligations, as the term indicates. If your business structure is an LLC, you can elect to be taxed either as a regular business or as a more profitable S corporation. LLC laws might differ significantly between jurisdictions. Although they are simpler to establish than corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs) nevertheless need filing articles of organization with the state. 

Get a Certificate of Organization from the Iowa Secretary of State and pay the $50 filing fee to establish your limited liability company there formally.


Last but not least, if your company's mission extends beyond financial gain, consider forming a charity. In contrast to businesses that are created with the sole intention of making a profit for their owners, nonprofit organizations are formed and run for the benefit of the public or society at large. A registered agent often called an agent for service of process, must be designated. All legal notices from the state of Iowa will be delivered to your registered agent there. When submitting your articles of incorporation to the Iowa Secretary of State, please include a $20 filing fee.

6. Submit Your Taxes

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is the last piece of the tax-filing puzzle. Application for an EIN can be made via the internet, regular mail, or fax. To get additional information, go to the IRS website. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the EIN can be simple enough for the owner's social security number. After obtaining an EIN, the next step is to select a tax year. Your tax year will begin and end on this day; the kind of taxes you pay will depend on the legal form your company takes.

7. Fund Your Company

Once you've developed a thorough business plan, you'll have a good idea of how much capital you'll need to get the company off the ground. The next stage is to secure funding, and there are several options available to you.

8. Create An Application For Necessary Authorizations

To operate legally in Iowa, you may need to get a business license or permission. Selling taxable items or services in Iowa requires a seller's permit from the Department of Revenue. Although there is no statewide requirement for business licensing in Iowa, several local governments there do so for local establishments that fall within their purview.

Get in touch with government officials in your area for information on necessary licenses. Iowa's Professional Licensing Bureau provides comprehensive information on the licensing standards and procedures for anyone working in sectors that are subject to such regulations. The Small Business Administration also provides data on government authorizations that may be reviewed. Take this seriously; breaking the law can have serious consequences.

9. Obtain a Commercial Checking Account

You should create a bank account before you start your firm so that you have a place to deposit earnings. Even if you're operating as a single proprietor, it's still best to keep business and personal funds in different accounts. This makes it much more straightforward when tax time rolls around and you need to report corporate revenue and expenses.

An organizational bank account can be opened in the same way a personal one can. Ask your favorite bank about their business checking account options, prices, and perks. Different banks may have other products and services, so it's important to compare your alternatives to choose the one that works best for you. After deciding on a financial institution, you'll need to present your Employer Identification Number (or Social Security Number, if operating as a sole proprietor) along with articles of incorporation, if applicable.

10. Get Insured

While it's easy to focus on other aspects of running a business, it's essential to remember about insurance. The unexpected can have a terrible impact on your business, but with insurance, you'll be protected. Property and casualty insurance, liability insurance, and workers' compensation are just a few of the forms of insurance that company owners should investigate.


There are some limitations to operating a business in Iowa, but new venture creators have many options for how to organize their businesses. There is much leeway in terms of the initial investment, insurance, and licensing that must be in place. Small business owners in Iowa have many opportunities to contribute to the state's economy.

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Note: Our content is for general information purposes only. Levy does not provide legal, accounting, or certified expert advice. Consult a lawyer, CPA, or other professional for such services.

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