January 26, 2021  
  Entrepreneurial Resources - Advice for Wisconsin Entrepreneurs  
  Madison, Wisconsin Resources for Entrepreneurs  
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Start a Business in Madison, Wisconsin

Are you starting a business in Madison, Wisconsin? This article discusses the most important things to consider when opening a business in Madison.

What Business to Start

Choosing a business that is right for you is very important. You might get some good ideas about what kind of business to start by reading Free Business Ideas.

For in-depth how-to guides on how to start specific businesses, browse our Good Businesses to Start section of our site. For example, you might be interested in our Starting a Grain Dryers & Equipment Service & Repair Business guide or our How to Start a Rollers Industrial Business guide.

Always keep in mind that you are starting a business in Madison. The business you want to start may already be well-represented in Madison. Make sure you fully understand Madison demographics before you lock in on your business idea.

Madison, Wisconsin Demographic Information

Madison has an active business community that includes small businesses, mid-sized businesses and large businesses.

To give you a better feel for Madison demographics for small businesses, we have tabulated the small business sizes, based on number of employees, for business in Madison.

Business Size# of
1-4 Employees 228522
5-9 Employees 105273
10-19 Employees 82341
20-49 Employees 63378
50-99 Employees 23877
100-249 Employees 13860
250-499 Employees 3150
500-999 Employees 1449
1000+ Employees 630
All Madison Businesses 522480

As a new Madison entrepreneur, you may also be interested in the table below. It shows how many businesses there are in Madison for each business category. By looking at this chart, you can get a general sense for how much competition there is in the business niche that you are pursuing.

Business Type # of
Advertising Agencies 32
Aluminum Foundries (except Die-Casting) 1
Ambulance Services 2
Amusement Arcades 1
Appliance Repair and Maintenance 9
Apprenticeship Training 1
Architectural Services 40
Armored Car Services 2
Art Dealers 13
Automobile Driving Schools 1
Automotive Exhaust System Repair 3
Automotive Glass Replacement Shops 8
Automotive Parts and Accessories Stores 31
Automotive Transmission Repair 5
Baked Goods Stores 6
Barber Shops 10
Beauty Salons 112
Bed-and-Breakfast Inns 3
Beer and Ale Merchant Wholesalers 2
Beer, Wine, and Liquor Stores 25
Blind and Shade Manufacturing 1
Blood and Organ Banks 4
Boat Building 1
Boat Dealers 5
Book Publishers 8
Book Stores 24
Books Printing 2
Bowling Centers 6
Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills 1
Building Inspection Services 5
Business Associations 81
Business to Business Electronic Markets 1
Cable and Other Program Distribution 8
Cafeterias 11
Camera and Photographic Supplies Stores 5
Canvas and Related Product Mills 2
Car Washes 10
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Services 10
Caterers 9
Cemeteries and Crematories 3
Charter Bus Industry 3
Cheese Manufacturing 1
Child and Youth Services 24
Child Day Care Services 111
Children's and Infants' Clothing Stores 10
Civic and Social Organizations 49
Claims Adjusting 9
Clothing Accessories Stores 9
Coffee and Tea Manufacturing 2
Coin-Operated Laundries and Drycleaners 6
Collection Agencies 5
Commercial Bakeries 8
Commercial Flexographic Printing 2
Commercial Lithographic Printing 25
Commercial Photography 5
Commercial Screen Printing 7
Commodity Contracts Brokerage 1
Commodity Contracts Dealing 1
Community Food Services 2
Computer and Software Stores 18
Computer Facilities Management Services 4
Computer Storage Device Manufacturing 1
Computer Systems Design Services 43
Computer Training 2
Concrete Pipe Manufacturing 1
Confectionery and Nut Stores 11
Confectionery Merchant Wholesalers 3
Construction Machinery Manufacturing 1
Construction Sand and Gravel Mining 1
Consumer Lending 14
Continuing Care Retirement Communities 4
Convenience Stores 10
Convention and Trade Show Organizers 6
Convention and Visitors Bureaus 1
Copper Foundries (except Die-Casting) 1
Cosmetology and Barber Schools 2
Couriers 7
Court Reporting and Stenotype Services 7
Creamery Butter Manufacturing 1
Credit Bureaus 2
Credit Unions 35
Curtain and Drapery Mills 1
Custom Computer Programming Services 92
Dental Laboratories 9
Diagnostic Imaging Centers 5
Diet and Weight Reducing Centers 8
Digital Printing 3
Direct Life Insurance Carriers 17
Direct Mail Advertising 1
Direct Title Insurance Carriers 6
Directory and Mailing List Publishers 3
Discount Department Stores 11
Display Advertising 2
Document Preparation Services 11
Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages) 110
Dry Pasta Manufacturing 1
Drywall and Insulation Contractors 18
Educational Support Services 8
Electric Power Distribution 3
Electrical Contractors 34
Electronic Shopping 9
Elementary and Secondary Schools 16
Emergency and Other Relief Services 4
Employment Placement Agencies 6
Engineering Services 82
Environmental Consulting Services 15
Exam Preparation and Tutoring 8
Exterminating and Pest Control Services 4
Facilities Support Services 3
Family Clothing Stores 35
Family Planning Centers 3
Farm Management Services 1
Farm Supplies Merchant Wholesalers 3
Fertilizer (Mixing Only) Manufacturing 1
Fine Arts Schools 19
Finish Carpentry Contractors 19
Fish and Seafood Markets 3
Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers 34
Floor Covering Stores 18
Flooring Contractors 20
Florists 17
Food (Health) Supplement Stores 7
Food Product Machinery Manufacturing 1
Food Service Contractors 13
Footwear and Leather Goods Repair 1
Formal Wear and Costume Rental 9
Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation 1
Framing Contractors 10
Freight Transportation Arrangement 4
Fruit and Vegetable Canning 1
Fruit and Vegetable Markets 2
Full-Service Restaurants 259
Funeral Homes and Funeral Services 7
Furniture Merchant Wholesalers 5
Furniture Stores 37
General Automotive Repair 67
General Freight Trucking, Local 10
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 4
General Rental Centers 2
General Warehousing and Storage 10
Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Stores 54
Glass and Glazing Contractors 7
Golf Courses and Country Clubs 10
Grantmaking Foundations 24
Graphic Design Services 34
Hardware Manufacturing 1
Hardware Merchant Wholesalers 8
Hardware Stores 12
Hat, Cap, and Millinery Manufacturing 1
Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal 1
Heating Oil Dealers 1
HMO Medical Centers 6
Hobby, Toy, and Game Stores 23
Home Centers 7
Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers 9
Home Health Care Services 15
Home Health Equipment Rental 3
Homes for the Elderly 24
Household Appliance Stores 13
Human Rights Organizations 14
Ice Manufacturing 1
Industrial Design Services 1
Industrial Gas Manufacturing 1
Industrial Launderers 4
Institutional Furniture Manufacturing 2
Insurance Agencies and Brokerages 144
Interior Design Services 18
Internet Publishing and Broadcasting 5
Internet Service Providers 6
Investigation Services 3
Investment Advice 28
Iron and Steel Mills 1
Irradiation Apparatus Manufacturing 1
Janitorial Services 75
Jewelry Stores 39
Land Subdivision 13
Landscape Architectural Services 12
Landscaping Services 59
Language Schools 2
Lead Pencil and Art Good Manufacturing 1
Lessors of Other Real Estate Property 5
Libraries and Archives 1
Limited-Service Restaurants 260
Limousine Service 4
Linen Supply 3
Livestock Merchant Wholesalers 2
Local Messengers and Local Delivery 6
Locksmiths 4
Luggage and Leather Goods Stores 1
Machine Shops 6
Mail-Order Houses 10
Manifold Business Forms Printing 2
Marinas 1
Marketing Consulting Services 32
Masonry Contractors 9
Materials Recovery Facilities 2
Mattress Manufacturing 1
Meat Markets 15
Meat Processed from Carcasses 3
Media Buying Agencies 1
Media Representatives 2
Medical Laboratories 3
Medicinal and Botanical Manufacturing 1
Men's Clothing Stores 12
Miscellaneous Intermediation 6
Mobile Food Services 4
Mortgage and Nonmortgage Loan Brokers 24
Motion Picture and Video Distribution 1
Motion Picture and Video Production 14
Motor Vehicle Towing 4
Motorcycle Dealers 3
Museums 2
Musical Groups and Artists 14
Musical Instrument and Supplies Stores 8
Nail Salons 2
New Car Dealers 22
New Housing Operative Builders 15
News Dealers and Newsstands 1
News Syndicates 1
Newspaper Publishers 14
Nonresidential Property Managers 21
Nursing Care Facilities 10
Office Administrative Services 29
Office Equipment Merchant Wholesalers 12
Office Supplies and Stationery Stores 10
Offices of Bank Holding Companies 2
Offices of Certified Public Accountants 39
Offices of Chiropractors 35
Offices of Dentists 95
Offices of Lawyers 185
Offices of Optometrists 19
Offices of Other Holding Companies 8
Offices of Podiatrists 3
Offices of Real Estate Appraisers 26
One-Hour Photofinishing 7
Ophthalmic Goods Manufacturing 2
Ophthalmic Goods Merchant Wholesalers 2
Optical Goods Stores 16
Outdoor Power Equipment Stores 3
Packaging and Labeling Services 1
Packaging Machinery Manufacturing 1
Paint and Coating Manufacturing 1
Paint and Wallpaper Stores 14
Painting and Wall Covering Contractors 49
Paper Industry Machinery Manufacturing 1
Parking Lots and Garages 4
Passenger Car Leasing 2
Passenger Car Rental 5
Payroll Services 11
Pen and Mechanical Pencil Manufacturing 1
Periodical Publishers 20
Perishable Prepared Food Manufacturing 1
Pet and Pet Supplies Stores 12
Pet Care (except Veterinary) Services 7
Petroleum Bulk Stations and Terminals 3
Pharmacies and Drug Stores 37
Photography Studios, Portrait 22
Plastics Plumbing Fixture Manufacturing 1
Political Organizations 13
Portfolio Management 21
Prepress Services 5
Private Mail Centers 2
Professional Employer Organizations 8
Professional Organizations 37
Public Relations Agencies 25
Quick Printing 12
Radio Networks 2
Radio Stations 12
Ready-Mix Concrete Manufacturing 3
Real Estate Credit 30
Real Estate Investment Trusts 1
Recreational Goods Rental 1
Recreational Vehicle Dealers 4
Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage 2
Reinsurance Carriers 1
Remediation Services 4
Residential Property Managers 56
Residential Remodelers 50
Retail Bakeries 9
Reupholstery and Furniture Repair 3
Roofing Contractors 25
Rooming and Boarding Houses 21
Sales Financing 7
Savings Institutions 26
Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation 7
School and Employee Bus Transportation 4
Securities Brokerage 57
Security Guards and Patrol Services 9
Septic Tank and Related Services 1
Shoe Stores 34
Siding Contractors 12
Sign Manufacturing 5
Site Preparation Contractors 11
Skiing Facilities 2
Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bars 65
Soap and Other Detergent Manufacturing 3
Software Publishers 26
Software Reproducing 1
Solid Waste Collection 3
Solid Waste Landfill 1
Sound Recording Studios 9
Special Needs Transportation 2
Sporting Goods Stores 40
Sports and Recreation Instruction 21
Support Activities for Forestry 1
Tax Preparation Services 19
Taxi Service 3
Telecommunications Resellers 2
Telemarketing Bureaus 6
Telephone Answering Services 3
Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing 2
Television Broadcasting 6
Temporary Help Services 48
Temporary Shelters 4
Testing Laboratories 6
Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters 8
Tile and Terrazzo Contractors 5
Tire and Tube Merchant Wholesalers 1
Tire Dealers 14
Title Abstract and Settlement Offices 11
Tobacco Stores 2
Toilet Preparation Manufacturing 2
Tour Operators 3
Tradebinding and Related Work 4
Translation and Interpretation Services 3
Travel Agencies 18
Used Car Dealers 16
Used Household and Office Goods Moving 11
Used Merchandise Stores 31
Vending Machine Operators 7
Veterinary Services 29
Video Tape and Disc Rental 19
Vocational Rehabilitation Services 26
Voluntary Health Organizations 12
Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters 1
Wholesale Trade Agents and Brokers 36
Window Treatment Stores 2
Wineries 1
Wired Telecommunications Carriers 37
Women's Clothing Stores 54
Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing 1
Wood Office Furniture Manufacturing 1
Wood Preservation 1
Zoos and Botanical Gardens 1

Should You Franchise?

Examine a list of Madison businesses and it's apparent that franchising has become a very popular way to start a business. Should you be giving franchising serious consideration?

Most business experts recommend that you consider franchising as an option. We have many articles on franchises, such as Franchise Due Diligence. Become a franchising expert of sorts by reading more of our Articles on Franchising.

To learn about specific franchise opportunities, check out our Franchise Directory.

Sample franchise opportunities include eCommercials and Europcar Group Australia. Alternatively, you can browse franchise categories, such as Candy and Chocolate Franchises and Fitness Franchises.

Note on Madison Franchise Opportunities: You will need to contact franchisors directly to see if their franchises are available in Madison.

Have You Considered Buying an Existing Madison Business?

An excellent way to get started in business is to Buy a Business in Wisconsin. Follow that link and you may find several good businesses for sale in Madison.

Before buying a business, be sure to read this article: Buying a Business.

Naming the Company

A big decision when starting a company is choosing a company name. Believe it or not, choosing a good company name can be a big contributor to your business success.

Even if the name doesn't do it by itself, many naming experts believe there should be a story behind the name that ties into your company mission.

To get up to speed on what makes for a good company name, we encourage you to read this useful article: Naming a Business.

There's one other important factor when naming a business. Since you are opening a business in Madison, it's critical that you ensure that no other Wisconsin company is using the business name you want to use.

Forming a Company in Madison, Wisconsin

A critical step is ensuring that your business is formed as a legal entity that is separate from its owners. Doing so will shield you from personal liability for business debts and obligations.

The entity you form can be a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership or other structure.

Incorporating is a very common way to legally create a business entity. Of course, you have to decide which type of corporation to form and where to incorporate. If you are starting a business in Wisconsin, you don't necessarily have to incorporate in Wisconsin. In fact, you can incorporate in the state of your choosing. For example, it's very popular to incorporate in Delaware, and incorporating in Nevada has become very trendy as well. Don't forget, though, that you will have to register as a foreign entity in all states that you do business in.

There are many nuances to forming a company. To learn the fundamentals of company formation, browse articles on our site, such as How to Incorporate. You may also want to seek the advice of an attorney. Finally, if you are starting a business in Madison, Wisconsin, our information on Incorporating in Wisconsin may be a useful resource if you decide to incorporate in Wisconsin.

Bring in Revenues

Do you know how to sell? In order to attract customers to your new Madison business, you need to focus on sales.

Why should customers buy from you instead of buying from competitors? Let us help you refine your selling techniques through our many useful sales advice tips.

Closing Sales is worth reading, as it may give you some good ideas on how to sell your products or services. We have many more good articles on selling that you may enjoy reading.

Moving Forward

As an entrepreneur in Madison, you won't be working for the boss anymore. You are the boss.

From this point on, you control your own destiny.

This site is all about helping entrepreneurs in Madison and elsewhere to achieve real success. We have a wealth of experience in business start-ups, financing, marketing, sales and more...and we've made all of our knowledge available to you.

More Entrepreneurial Resources for Starting a Business in Madison, Wisconsin

Here are more links that we believe will help you be successful in starting a business in Madison.



Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Buying a Business

Writing a Business Plan

Raising Money


Small Business Marketing

Advertising Advice

Public Relations -

Customer Service Tips

Entrepreneurial Selling

Workplace Safety