GETTING STARTED

Are you an entrepreneur?


Learn more about Wisconsin


Some first steps


Business assistance programs

  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
    The SBA has a wide variety of startup tools, checklists, and resources to help you begin your business. In Wisconsin, the SBA offices in Madison and Milwaukee offer training through numerous venues such as workshops, seminars, and courses. Many are free. Online courses, workshops and guides are available at http://www.sba.gov/training/courses.html. 608-441-5263 or 414-297-3941.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
    Housed on or near 13 of the University of Wisconsin campuses, the SBDCs are designed to deliver up-to-date counseling, training, and technical assistance in all aspects of small business management
  • Wisconsin Business AnswerLine
    Provides free information to small business owners on a wide variety of business topics. The AnswerLine staff has access to an extensive document library, phone and web resources and often field calls about starting a business, business planning, permits and licensing, insurance, legal entity types and business financing topics. These resources also can also be emailed to callers to answer their questions quickly and efficiently. The AnswerLine is available from Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Call: 800-940-7232.
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
    Working and retired executives and business owners volunteer their time and expertise to provide confidential counseling and mentoring free of charge.
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
    The State Bar of Wisconsin serves the public by providing attorney referrals, public education, reduced-fee legal assistance for low income state residents and enhancing the administration of and access to justice.
  • Center for Technology Commercialization is a statewide umbrella organization that provides access to a wide range of entrepreneurial training programs and business assistance professionals who can help entrepreneurs and small businesses improve a variety of business operations.
  • Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)
    WWBIC provides quality business education, technical assistance and access to capital for entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on serving women, people of color, and those of lower incomes. 414-263-5450 or 608-257-5450
  • The Entrepreneurs’ Resource Clinic in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Town Center is a “one-stop shop” where entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs can find assistance in a single space. UW-Madison entities staff the clinic on a regular basis to coordinate services and resources.
  • Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP)
    WISCAP provides business and job opportunities to low-income entrepreneurs, providing technical assistance to individuals who have sound ideas for establishing a small business but who lack the expertise and knowledge to succeed.


Writing a business plan


Funding your business plan


Choosing a business structure


Marketing and feasibility studies


Finding a mentor

  • The Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network (MERLIN) is a group of experienced business leaders who volunteer their time, knowledge and experience to build the skills of entrepreneurs and help them turn their ideas into companies. Approved entrepreneurs gain assistance from the mentoring service free of charge in areas such as business formation and funding, strategic planning, organizational management and specific technical issues.  or 608-441-8053
  • Wisconsin PeerSpectives Network – service of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center network, PeerSpectives provides CEOs, presidents and business owners with insights and feedback from peers in small group settings.
  • BizStarts Milwaukee is a seamless, region-wide approach to assisting entrepreneurs in southeastern Wisconsin. The BizStarts Milwaukee website serves as a one-stop address for entrepreneurs to access information, service providers and events.