To Start a Business in Louisiana, follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea
The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. We have assembled a comprehensive list of small business ideas to help you get started. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Louisiana visitors in 2020:
Find the Right Business Idea for You
Our free Business Ideas Generator will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.
Step 2: Plan Your Business
Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.
Naming a business can be challenging. You'll want to choose a brand name that follows Louisiana naming rules, resonates with your customers, and is available as a URL.
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?
Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?
People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?
- Create a robust business plan to help navigate the early years of your business. To use this free tool sign up for the Business Center.
- Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.
- If you’re a solo-entrepreneur, setting up a virtual office can add credibility to your business by having a business address on Google search, protect your personal privacy, and provide you with a business phone line and a live receptionist to answer your calls. Save $200 on a virtual office today.
- If you’re a woman in business, find funding, tools and resources with this great new series Women in Business.
- Learn how to plan, raise, and manage your funds by visiting our guide to Small Business Finance.
Step 3: Form Your Business
Registering your Louisiana company as a legal business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:
- Increased credibility
- Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued
For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Louisiana for as little as $100.
If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.
Secure Your Domain
We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it
Step 4: Register for Taxes
With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.
You should also be aware of important louisiana taxes that may apply to your business:
- If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Louisiana Sales Tax.
- If you hire employees in Louisiana, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax, and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
You can protect your business with these two steps:
1. Opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital (e.g., small business loans) later on.
Step 6: Set Up Accounting
An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.
Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.
Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses
To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
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Step 8: Get Insured
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:
We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Louisiana, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.
Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business
Read our review of the best small business insurance companies
Step 9: Define Your Brand and Promote your Business
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, you should consider:
- What your business stands for?
- What are your core values?
- What will earn customer trust?
Once you feel confident about your answers to these questions, it’s time to move onto your business name. Your business name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business. To learn more about creating the best name for your business, read our How to Name a Business guide.
Once you have your name established, to finalize your brand, you will need a logo. To get a unique logo for your business use our Free Logo Generator. You can also try this premium logo maker by Tailor Brands. For something as important as your brand image it is always a good idea to source ideas from different places.
Promoting Your Business
There are many different methods to promote your business, but the two most effective methods are:
- Press Releases
Press Releases are a great way to promote your brand and are one of the most cost-effective strategies as they:
- Provides publicity
- Establish your brand on the web
- Improve your website's SEO, driving more customers to your website
- Are a one-time cost in terms of effort and money
- Have long-lasting benefits
Recommended: TRUiC has negotiated a 25% discount for you on a service that will write and distribute press releases for you.
A Facebook page is a great, free way to interact with your customers. But, it does require ongoing effort to be successful.
A Facebook page can be used to:
- Establish your local business presence
- Showcase your business products and services
- Communicate with your customers
- Get and share reviews from customers
- Promote your business through ads, though this may not be suitable for your business.
Step 10: Establish a Web Presence
A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’s credibility.
In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:
- Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
- Registering for a local Google profile
Louisiana Formation Guides
- Should I Start an LLC for My Small Business?
- Cost to Form an LLC in Louisiana
- Louisiana LLC Name Search
- How to Choose a Registered Agent in Louisiana
- How to File LLC Articles of Organization in Louisiana
- Louisiana LLC Operating Agreement
- Louisiana LLC Annual Report
- How to Dissolve an LLC in Louisiana
Dixie Business Center
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
Dixie Business Center is a nonprofit business incubator dedicated to foster small business growth and creation; it offers coworking spaces at low cost for aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as a range of consulting services in market research, aid in seeking finance, as well as other business resources.
See more business resources in Baton Rouge
SUNO Small Business Development & Management Institute
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
- Business Planning
South University at New Orleans offers great support for entrepreneurs through the Small Business Development & Management Institute; the institute offers an incubator space, with offices available for use at a discounted rate, as well as a range of in-person counseling services. These services cover areas such as loan packaging, business management, marketing, financing, accounting, strategic planning, regulations, and taxation.
Participants must be a member of Louisiana Economic Development in order to attend certain classes.
See more business resources in New Orleans
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
- Business Planning
Offers Free Service
The CoHab is an amazing resource for entrepreneurs in various stages of their business development; the organization offers a free consultation for individuals who are in the first stages of ideation, and then onwards have established a range of programs to suit different stages and types of entrepreneur's needs.