Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
Like an oak-lined plantation of old, gorgeous, picturesque, and iconic in the south, successful companies begin as mere plans. Blueprints. Do you know how many people it took to keep those things running smoothly? Wow! With so many moving parts, you’re either organized with your financials in order or you’re essentially winging it.
Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register
The next step is to choose the type of business structure that best suits your ambitions for the brand. This will go a long way in helping you get the most out of your ideas and protect your personal assets in the process.
Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.
Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.
Step 3: Sync With The Louisiana Tax Code
While Louisiana is the only state to still adhere to a Napoleonic code, and pirates used to hide out there, its tax code is quite modern. Over the last decade since hurricane Katrina, the state and the people have worked incredibly hard to bring businesses back and restore local economies. It’s worked well and you can likely leverage credits, kickbacks and startup-friendly tax programs available in many areas.
Take Action: Get the regulatory 'red tape' taken care of. Get compliant so you can grow unimpeded and empowered by the state's many incentives. Bookmark the Businesses Section of the Louisiana Dept. of Revenue’s website. It’s got pretty much everything you’ll need if you’re doing this solo without legal help or through an online incorporation provider.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Thank goodness the Louisiana regulatory system isn’t as hectic as Mardi Gras. Complexity will depend on a) what industry you’re in, b) where you’re located within the state. Check out the resources below to get started.
- For DYI’ers head on over to the Louisiana Business License, Permit and Registration page through the SBA with a step-by-step guide to the process.
- If you need help with this step, a Business License Service is awesome. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Step 5: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
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.
You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Step 6: Pick A Stellar Louisiana Location
There’s a large variety of interesting reasons why Louisiana is the Festival Capital of America with over 400 annually celebrating everything you can imagine in terms of food, people, places, music…name it. From New Orleans to smaller gems like Mandeville, Alexandria, Winnfield or Covington, you can find what you’re looking for and then some.
Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.
Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Business
In this department you have as many options as folks in Louisiana have tastes for food -red beans & rice, grits, jambalaya, creole delicacies, etc. The question is, how hungry are you and what are you willing to go for? Are you more of a conventional type that will look for small business loans, or is CrowdFunding something you’re open to?
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like hang-gliding and The Smokies. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
We’re not insinuating your brand’s website needs to be as beautiful and exciting as a Cajun Swamp Tour. It just needs to be there to leverage marketing potential, give people a place to find out about your business, and engage. The marketplace is fierce, there’s too many gators in the waters to not have a digital presence.
Take Action: If you could use some help in this department, we highly recommend looking into a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. They’re both very easy to use and will give you a professional website in less than a few hours.
Step 9: Market Your Business
Within the proverbial Greenwood Cemetery of marketing, you’ll find many elaborate stone monuments and crypts for old trends, gimmicks, expensive scams, and hype. Never, ever, ever, forget to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). And this is especially the case online where most web users have been taught to let “the machine” do their thinking for them.
Take Action: Before you dive right in and spend a thousand dollars on a marketing ad, try some quick Google searches about the type of marketing that fits your industry. It’s a great place to start.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Startup Savant would like to be your Tabasco. We’d like to add a little spice to your cause. Around here it’s about continued learning, useful motivational content, and gaining insight from fellow change-makers in the flesh. How do’ya like that jazz?