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.
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: Create A Dedicated Business Bank Account
This can be the really fun part, like exploring Saint Charles through the streetcars. All you have to do is choose where to set up dedicated business accounts and then sync up with your accounting software. Keep in mind that this step is about setting up a solid financial foundation for your business, so be sure to do the research and find the best situation for you!
- Shop around at local and national banks to compare features. Typically an online national bank like Capital One or CitiBank will give you the best rates and features.
- User-friendly, fast, secure, tons of automation, easier forecasting, more efficient marketing budgets…the benefits are near endless which is why this resource is indispensable when starting a business in Louisiana. Check out our guide to Business Accounting Software and sync whichever you choose with your fresh new business bank account.
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?