University of Wisconsin–Madison

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Location and Parking

Q: Where are you located? Where are your classes held?

As of the Fall 2021 semester, our office is now located on the first floor of Grainger Hall (975 University Ave.),  down a hallway off of the main atrium. Our office is on the side of the building closest to W. Johnson Street. View the thumbnail version at right, or see a wayfinding map of Grainger Hall here. The majority of our in-person classes in Grainger Hall take place in Room 3180 (third floor, closest to the parking elevators), but always make sure to check the Today in Grainger screens and/or neon hallway signs for confirmation.

Our classes are held in Grainger Hall (975 University Avenue) located on the corner of Park Street and University Avenue.  There is underground parking (Lot 7) at Grainger Hall off of Brooks St., as well as street parking. Brooks St. is located one block west of  Park. There will be signs in the elevator on “In Grainger Today” bulletin as well as bright pink signs on the floor of the class to direct you.

Q: Where do I park to visit your office?

There is a visitor parking lot underneath Grainger Hall (entrance off of Brooks Street). This parking lot has limited capacity and generally has the highest availability before 8:00 a.m. The next-closest visitor parking lot is Lot 46 at State and Lake. Please plan ahead and leave an additional 15 minutes before your scheduled class or appointment when you visit campus. For more information about parking on campus – including details about how to reserve yourself a visitor parking pass 2 or more weeks ahead of your event or appointment – visit our contact and parking information page.

Live Virtual Classes

Q: What is a live virtual class?

“Live, virtual” courses are classes you join as they’re happening – in real time – from anywhere that you can access the internet. These courses will take place at a designated time and date via Zoom. Through this platform, you will still be able to see the instructor, hear the information, ask questions, and participate with your fellow classmates when it makes sense with the content.

Q: What is the difference  between a live virtual class and a webinar?

  1. Webinars are shorter presentations from a content expert on a topic. These are around an hour in length and allow time for questions at the end. Given their length, webinars focus on a narrow topic or a broad overview of a subject, and they have limited interactive elements.
  2. Live, virtual courses dive deeper into topic (often between two hours and a full day in length) and have a format that more closely mirrors an in-person class.

Q: Why should I register for a UW-Madison SBDC live virtual class?

  1.  Learn from the same expert instructors that you would meet in person – and draw from the expertise of our 40 years of helping business owners!
  2.  Continue learning with your peers from anywhere – no masks required!
  3.  Join the classes as they’re happening – in real time – from anywhere that you can access the internet. These courses will take place at a designated time and date via Zoom; you will still be able to see the instructor, hear the information, ask questions, and participate with your fellow classmates. Participants are asked to keep their cameras on, and there are often multiple interactive elements to help you learn the content through workbooks, self-reflection, future professional development planning, and more.
  4.  To reduce screen fatigue, we have included breaks in our virtual courses that allow you to step away from your computer, grab a snack, or take a brief walk. For some courses:
    • We have broken up the content over multiple days so that you can digest the information in smaller pieces and more intentionally integrate what you have learned into your work right away.
    • You may complete a brief worksheet or activity ahead of time so that you can better engage with the instructor and your classmates during the course. This allows you to break up your engagement time.

But don’t take our word for it.

“At first I was hesitant about the breakout [sessions], but kudos for the “behind the scenes” and handling them so seamlessly. The class was very well produced.”

Kristi Freidel, Production Director, Nelson Schmidt


In-Person Classes

Q: What if I can’t attend a class on the date it is scheduled?

A: We hold some of our classes twice a year. If you can’t make a class, chances are it will be available at another time.  If you register for a series and can’t make all of the classes, we can work with you to attend the class you miss at another time or suggest another class that has similar content.

Q: What if I need a class in a topic you don’t offer?

A: We are continuously looking to update our offerings based on client input. If there isn’t a class in something you are interested in, you can contact us and we can let you know the status of our future planning or let you know if there may be something in the area that will fit your needs.

Q: Do you offer your classes on-site to groups?

A: We offer the option to have onsite classes at your location for groups of 10 or more (usually not cost effective for groups smaller than that). We can also customize them to fit your specific needs. If you are interested in hosting an onsite training, please complete this form so we can get back to you on class information and pricing.

Q: I have heard parking is a problem, how can I be sure I can find parking?

A: If you register for your class at least 2 weeks in advance, you can pre-order parking through UW Transportation Services for Grainger Hall’s Lot 7 (underground parking where the classes are held). NOTE: You must order at least 2 weeks in advance. For more information: If you don’t pre-order, you can try Lot 7, Brooks Street parking, or the Lake Street City of Madison Ramp which is 3 blocks from Grainger Hall.

Q: Is lunch included in the class?

A: Most of the classes do not include lunch (unless specified). Beverages are included and available throughout the day. The Capital Café is located on the First floor of Grainger Hall for lunch and dinner. They serve sandwiches, soup, salad and a variety of snacks. There are also several restaurant options within 2-3 blocks of Grainger Hall.

Q: What if I need to cancel a class I am registered for?

A: If you need to cancel your registration, you can call our registration office at 262-3909. If you cancel before the class starts, there is a $25 cancellation fee. If you do not attend and do not cancel before the class you are will be charged for the full class fee. If you have an emergency, please call and let us know and we can work with you to transfer you to the next session or a different class.

Q: If there is inclement weather, how do I know if the class is cancelled?

A: Please call 608-263-2221 for a recorded message, after 6:30 am for day classes and 3:00 pm for night classes. If we know ahead of that, we will also email you.

Q: Do I need to pay at time of registration?

A: You are required to pay for your classes at time of registration. You must have either a credit card or valid UW-Madison funding string to be able to register. For questions related to payment call 608-262-2451.

Q: How can I request accommodations for a disability?

A: Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at to request accommodations or to ask general questions about the office or programming.

General Business Information

Q: What are the legal forms of business?

Sole proprietorship, Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, S-Corporations and C-Corporations. With each legal structure, there are tax advantages and disadvantages. It is important to seek the advice of an accountant or an attorney for detailed tax information.

Q: What is the advantage of a sole proprietorship?

A Sole Proprietorship is owned and operated by one person. Obtaining the required licenses and permits establishes the business. If the name of the business is different from the person’s name, it is called a DBA or “Doing Business As”.  For example: If John Doe owns a business called EAT HERE, the business is legally identified as John Doe DBA EAT HERE.  Wisconsin Statutes do not require registration for a sole proprietorship.  You may voluntarily register with the County Registrar of Deeds and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions 608/261-9555

Q: Is there more than one type of partnership?

Yes! A General Partnership is owned and operate by two or more persons. Drafting a partnership agreement is highly recommended.  The agreement can include provisions for the business to continue after the death or withdrawal of a partner. Otherwise, the business ends.   If there is no legal partnership agreement, the partnership is regulated by state statutes under the Uniform Partnership Act.

A Limited Partnership must have at least one general and one limited partner. Popular in the 1980’s.  Rarely used today.   It is formed by filing a Certificate of Limited Partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 608/261-9555,  Wisconsin Limited Partnership Act .

Q: What is the most common business entity?

Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most used business entity in Wisconsin. It can be formed by one or more members. An LLC separates personal and business assets. The owners must file Articles of Organization and register the business with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 608/261-9555.

Q: What is the difference between and S Corp and a C Corp?

Subchapter S-Corporation is legally a corporation but is taxed like a partnership. The business must file, and have approved, Articles of Incorporation and register with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 608/261-9555

C-Corporation can be formed by one or more persons and is the most formal and complex business structure. Ownership is restricted to those owning stock.  It is regulated by State Statutes, Chapter 180 Business Corporations.  The business must file, and have approved, Articles of Incorporation and register with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 608/261-9555.  The business name must be different from any other national or foreign company.

Q: What is a B Corporation?

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

Q: Is there any free assistance with forming my legal entity?

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions has a lot of great information on their website.   The UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic offers free assistance with entity formation.

Q: Where do I go to file my corporation?

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions,  608-261-9555.

Q: Are there any grants for starting a business?

In general, No. There are rarely funds available for starting a for-profit retail, service or manufacturing business. Sometimes there are industry specific monies available to spur innovation. In addition there may be government funds (usually in the form of a match) for revitalization or economic development. In general however, there are not funds for start-up.

Q: What do I need to do to get a loan for a business?

See Check List for SBA Guaranteed loan

See Financing through Commercial Banks

Q: What does private equity mean?

Private equity is simply shares in a company that are not listed on the stock market. This term has also been used to describe the broader group of firms that are operating as private equity owners of companies.

Q: What is the difference between an Angel Investor and Venture Capital?

Both Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists will hold private equity from having made investments directly into private companies. However Business Angel Investors will be individuals who are investing their own personal funds into a business opportunity. Whereas Venture Capital is invested by firms or companies that use other people’s money. They raise that money by offering investors a chance to take part in a fund that is then used to buy shares in a private company.

Q: Do I Have To Write a Business Plan?

If you are seeking financing then you will need to write a business plan. You may also want to write a business plan even if you don’t need funding. Plans serve as a roadmap for your business.

See Preparing a Business Plan

Q: Are there classes to help with Business Planning?

The  BizSmart Training for Entrepreneurs Class includes an overview of the business areas crucial to planning and running your business. The class is designed to help you apply learnings to a business plan that you can use as a roadmap for your business. This program is meant for entrepreneurs who are just starting out, need a refresher of the business basics or need to update or write a business plan. The Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) is a more intensive business planning training program that is a comprehensive combination of coursework, business plan development and optional individual consulting.  ETP participants are required to write and submit a business plan on a timely basis and are eligible to receive grant funding to help cover program costs.

Q: How do I know who my customer will be?

When starting a business it’s vital to understand who your customer will be. This takes careful research.

See Free Sources of Market Data

Q: Do I need insurance for my business?

See Consumer’s Guide to Insurance for Small Business

Q: What is Intellectual property? (copywrite, trademark, patents etc.)

See Introduction to Intellectual Property for Small Business

Q: What do I need to do when hiring an employee?

See Hiring Employees

Q: What’s the difference between an employee and a contractor?

Independent contractor definition Wisc. Stats.

Q: I need help making a prototype where can I go?

Contact the UW-Stout Discovery Center

Q: How do I reserve a web address (URL) for my business?

There are many sites you can reserve a web address for your business. is an example of one such site.  Many webhosting sites also allow you to reserve your URL.

Q: How will I know what expenses are associated with my business?

Research the industry to determine common expenses. It is also a good idea to check with an accountant or take a financial management class to make sure you know which expenses are allowable for your business.

Q: How can I tell if I have a good business idea?

Test it out by taking the online First Steps class

Q: Who do I need to talk to about leasing space?

A commercial real estate agent or the owner of the building. Commercial leases are much more complicated than a residential lease so it is a good idea to have an attorney help you with the terms of the lease.