Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.
Keep in mind your brand name should contain the words ‘Corporation,’ ‘Company,’ 'Incorporated,' or 'Limited." Abbreviations for these words are also acceptable. If needed, you can file a Reservation for Business Name form and reserve the name for 60 days.
Filing Fee: $25
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use WEEBLY to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent
To act in behalf of your Corporation, a Louisiana Registered Agent must be a resident of the state, an individual attorney, a partnership from Louisiana or a foreign/domestic organization legally registered to act as one. They're responsible for receiving and helping you to handle/process all official documentation like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, and so on.
You can hire a third party service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free when you start a corporation through a service like IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation
Now that you've secured a registered agent, when you're ready to make your corporation an officially recognized business entity you need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Basic information that will be disclosed for the public records includes:
- Corporate name, address, and purpose,
- Full name and complete address of Registered Agent,
- Full name and complete address of the incorporators,
- Number of shares Corporation is authorized to issue, and so on.
Filing fee: $75
Step 4) Start A Corporate Records Book
Think of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary, having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.
Step 5) Appoint Initial Directors, Meet, Discuss Bylaws
Appoint at least 3 directors who among other things will oversee the Louisiana corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:
Step 6) Open A Business Bank Account
First of all, your corporation’s financials need to be separate from all other accounts or streams of financial data. Don’t just assume you should set it up where you or your team already have personal bank accounts. Would that be convenient? Yes, but keep in mind there are plenty of options – local, state, and national banks.
Try to look at the differences in fees, kickbacks, incentives and financial services on an annual basis when you do your comparisons. Just don’t be hasty. Do some homework. Here’s a quick breakdown article on Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin your research.
Step 7) Handle Taxation & Licensing/Permits
As a legally operating corporation, you’re required to be 100% compliant with all relevant local/state/federal agencies. Ideally you should have an attorney or at least dedicate time to knocking this out yourself and doing the homework. Here are four resources to get started:
- Get your EIN, or Employer Identification Number, freely and quickly through the IRS Website.
- Bookmark the New Orleans Small Business Administration office and Sec. of State’s Business Services.
- To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
- Also, consider a professional business license service that takes care of the legwork for you.