Get the worry-free services and expert support you need to start your business in Louisiana today.
Starts at $49 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes
Starting a business in Louisiana can be simplified if you follow our step-by-step guide. Take your business idea and turn it into your dream business in Louisiana using the guide below.
To succeed, every company needs a business plan. Think of a business plan as a roadmap that explains how the company will go from an idea to a flourishing business.
As you may expect, a business plan can get pretty detailed. You should conduct market research before you get started. Who is your local competition – and how can differentiate yourself?
Your business plan should include a description of the business, an assessment of “SMART” goals, a deep-dive on competitors, a detailed description of your target customers, a sound marketing plan, and a look at the company’s current economic status.
Aside from listing revenue streams, it’s also important to list expenses. Mention the cost of your monthly lease, what you expect to pay in Louisiana taxes, and ongoing labor costs. Even mention smaller bills like what you’ll pay in utilities to Entergy New Orleans, for example.
Entrepreneurs with a solid business plan are 30% more likely to grow their business. Why? A plan forces a business owner to set goals, create a strategy, and work toward achieving them. Given its importance, a business plan is not a step you should skip.
How will you structure your business? There are several different types of businesses that you can establish in Louisiana. Your decision will impact how you’re taxed and how much personal liability an owner has if something goes wrong.
As a Louisiana business owner, you may explore a sole proprietorship, a general partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company (LLC) as your designated business structure. With a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the business and the owner(s) are considered the same legal and tax-paying business entity. A sole proprietorship is the easiest business to start, but it doesn’t offer the liability protection other legal business entity options provide.
In fact, while it’s fast to start (you can start doing business immediately) and there’s no paperwork to file, the main drawback is the lack of liability protection for your personal assets. If someone sues the business, they can go after your personal savings, house, and possessions.
With a corporation in Louisiana, your personal assets will enjoy some level of protection. However, income for C corporations is taxed twice — once at the corporate level and once on personal tax returns. S corporations tax the money only once, but it’s harder to qualify for an S corporation.
With an LLC, the business and the owner are separate, which provides a layer of liability protection. The owner’s home and car, for example, are considered personal assets and are safeguarded if the business incurs debt or faces a costly lawsuit. You will have personal asset protection.
Also, the business income is taxed only once, on the owner’s personal tax return. For those two reasons, LLCs are a popular choice among new business owners.
Since a business structure is tied to taxes, it’s a good idea to speak with an accountant or attorney about your specific business idea to weigh cost-effective options.
After working through a business plan, you probably have a lot of information needed to calculate business costs. There are ongoing costs and one-time, startup costs for things like equipment, inventory, and filing fees. If you plan to set up an LLC in Louisiana, you’ll have a one-time $100 filing fee to register with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Start by crunching your startup costs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a good startup cost resource that can help. Next, move on to ongoing costs. Ongoing costs include things like rent, utilities, payroll, equipment maintenance, and marketing. Labor costs will likely be one of the higher costs on your lists.
While Louisiana doesn’t have a state-set minimum wage, it uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Use this as a benchmark to calculate payroll. This tool can help crunch ongoing costs.
Some entrepreneurs come up with a business name instantly, while others ponder it over a few crawfish boils before committing.
Either way, when you have a name in mind, you need to make sure it’s available. In the state of Louisiana, as in most states, no two businesses can have the same name. To check a name’s availability, run a business entity search at the Louisiana Secretary of State website. If the name is in use, you need to come up with a different one.
Louisiana has its share of odd business names like Bourbon Cowboy (a bar on Bourbon Street with a famed mechanical bull) and Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (a psychic reading shop), so it’s perfectly acceptable to pick a memorable name that may seem a little strange. You may also consider using a “doing business as” (DBA) name, which you learn more about in our Louisiana DBA guide.
In a nutshell, many companies use DBAs to separate different lines of business. A lawn care company that also builds outdoor fireplaces might use a DBA to differentiate its services. Unless they have a DBA, sole proprietorships and general partnerships must do business under the first name and last name of the owner(s).
For that reason, a sole proprietorship and general partnership may use a DBA to create a more professional-sounding and brandable company name.
Now is also a good time to look into a matching domain name. Most businesses want their website to match their company name. To make that happen, you need to see if the domain name is available and purchase it. If this sounds a little too technical, reach out to a business formation company for assistance.
You have to file paperwork to make your Louisiana LLC official. If you live in Louisiana, you can download the Articles of Organization, fill them out, and mail it or you can submit them online through Louisiana geauxBIZ.
If you live in a certain county (Ascension, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, or Terrebonne), you’re required to file online. The fee to file a domestic (in-state) LLC is $100. You’ll also need to file an annual report.
Forming a corporation in Louisiana can be even more involved. A business formation and compliance company can offer assistance with either an LLC or a corporation.
You can use the same website, Louisiana geauxBIZ, to research the types of permits or business licenses your business may need to operate, too, though be aware that the site won’t necessarily tell you every conceivable license or permit you may need. You’ll need to conduct some research.
Most businesses need a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. You can get this nine-digit number, which is used to pay federal taxes, hire employees, and apply for a bank loan, from IRS.gov. Sole proprietors who don’t hire employees or pay specific taxes have the option of using their social security number instead, though this can expose them to identity theft.
You also need to register your business with the Louisiana Department of Taxation, and it’s a good idea to learn about business insurance, too. The Louisiana Department of Insurance provides resources on health insurance and suggests other types of business insurance that small business owners may want.
Owners can also set up a business bank account to keep personal and business assets separate. Many banks offer business checking accounts and savings accounts, some with more competitive rates. You can also consider opening a business credit card for making small purchases and for building your company’s credit.
Often, marketing budgets are small for new companies, but there are many efforts you can make that are free or low-cost.
To start, set up social media accounts for your company. Select the channels that correlate with your audience. For example, if your ideal client is a Mardi Gras-celebrating millennial, use channels like Snapchat and Instagram. If you’re targeting an older generation, a portion of the population that’s expected to significantly increase in the state over the next 15 years, set up a Facebook account. This small business guide to social media could help.
As you set up social accounts, be sure to follow local resources and join groups like the New Orleans Small Business Owners group and the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce group.
You can also consider buying some ads in one of Louisiana’s 38 publications or set a small daily budget for highly targeted Facebook ads that are shown to a specific geographic area, like Franklin or Covington.
Louisiana Business Connections offers several tips to market your business in the state.
The Bayou State has created a series of tax breaks that provide a pro-business climate. The Enterprise Zone, for example, gives companies a tax credit of up to $3,500 for every job created, while manufacturers who make a new investment can get property tax abatement for up to 10 years with the industrial tax exemption. Also, companies that shell out for research and development could see up to a 30% tax credit with the R&D tax credit.
Business owners and potential employees who live in the state also enjoy a low cost of living. Louisiana’s cost of living is about 5% less than the national average. Affordable home prices and some of the lowest utility prices in the country contribute to that status.
For new business owners who need an office or commercial space, you’ll find inexpensive prices. To lease office space, expect to pay about $15 per square foot. To buy office space, prices hover around $80 per square foot. Industrial space and retail space are even cheaper.
Louisiana has many business opportunities, but to provide inspiration, here’s a list of industries that employ the most people in the state:
Louisiana has a low cost of living, a welcoming business environment, multiple tax incentives, and affordable commercial space. As a result, the state could be an ideal location for you to run with your business idea. Learning how to start a business in Louisiana will take some time, but there are many resources that can help you as you navigate business ownership.
We can help make it easier to start. Our formation services help you start, run and grow your successful business over time.
The average cost to start a business is $30,000, but there are plenty of companies that have started with less. As you consider costs for your business, remember to factor in Louisiana business taxes, income tax, health insurance costs, and labor costs.
Broussard, Stonewall, and Maurice are all listed as top Louisiana cities to start a small business.
These cities were scored on population growth, amount of disposable income, income growth, and expenses like state taxes.
To start an LLC in the state of Louisiana, you’ll pay a $100 filing fee. The fee should be submitted to the Louisiana Secretary of State along with LLC formation paperwork.
You will pay extra for expedited registration service. A business formation company can guide you through this process.
Many businesses look at establishing a business in one of three areas: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the Gulfport-Biloxi area.
Of these areas, the Gulfport-Biloxi area has the cheapest office space, which is leasing at $14 per square foot. Baton Rouge and New Orleans are several dollars higher per square foot.