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The following is an article in Omblogsman, a blog series by Jim Rawlinson, Regulatory and Permitting Ombudsman at Develop Indy, a business unit of the Indy Chamber.

So you want to start a business in Indianapolis but you have no idea where to start. It can be an overwhelming but highly rewarding venture to go out on your own and start something new. The folks at the Indy Chamber are here to help you get your business started on the right foot.
I’m Jim Rawlinson, the Regulatory and Permitting Ombudsman at the Indy Chamber. I’m here to help you get opened as safely and quickly as possible. Whether you need someone to just answer questions, you have complicated zoning issues, or have no idea who you even need to talk to, I’m here to help. I help you get where you need in the City and help “sticky” issues get “unstuck”. My services are just one of the many free services the Indy Chamber offers to businesses. We even have an entire Entrepreneur Services team that offers free one on one business coaching, financing, workshops and a whole stack of other services to help you get your small business off the ground.
In my time here, I have helped hundreds of businesses open, expand and relocate. Of course some projects are easier than others. Here I’ll give you a few quick tips that every potential business owner should consider before they consider purchasing a property or entering a lease.
1. Are you ready?
It’s okay if you’re not. If you have a business idea, an open business, or if you’re somewhere in-between, schedule a free one-on-one business coaching session through the Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services division! Need a financial boost? You could qualify for a microloan. Call 317.464.2258 to get started!
2. Location, Location, Location!
Of course you want a cool looking spot that is easy to get to. But, more important than that, did you check the zoning? Do you know what was there before? What kind of costs will go into remodeling the space for your needs? Are you in a flood zone? Are you in a Historic District? We know you’re busy, so we designed a quick and easy online tool called OpenCounter Indy that can help you answer these questions on your own time! To check out the OpenCounter Indy tool, visit indianapolis.opencounter.com. City planners at Department of Metropolitan Development are also on call daily and happy to answer any questions you may have about zoning and use.
3. Timeline.
City staff will typically do everything they can to get your permits back to you as quickly as they can. But, be aware, the more complicated your project the more time you need to build in to your plans. Do you need a rezone or a variance of use? These typically take at least 30-60 days, and usually the rest of your project can’t be permitted until you begin that process.
4. Consult a professional.
Budgets are always tight and you probably know someone whose neighbor does good work under the table. But if you want to be successful and serious about your project you need to always use licensed professionals. Yes they can be expensive, but you truly get what you pay for. The time and frustration that licensed professionals can help you avoid is worth every penny you would save by trying to cut corners to start.
Feel free to give me a call at 317.464.2262 or an email at jrawlinson@indychamber.com if I can help you in any way!
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