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Business Guides

 “Before beginning, plan carefully.” –  Cicero

In starting a business, careful planning and thought is beneficial. Below are some guidelines and resources to consider when starting a business.

Basic Business Startup Procedures

Business Guide: Exploring Entrepreneurial Options

BASIC BUSINESS STARTUP PROCEDURES

Permitting, Licences, and Registrations

To begin the business permitting and registration process, determine the form of organization and name for your business.

  • BUSINESS STRUCTURE:
  1. Choosing a legal entity is important.  This decision affects the liability, tax structure, funding, longevity, reporting, and expenses of the business.  Every situation is unique, and no one structure suits all business operations.  Several references that provide information and guidance on selecting a form of organization are provided below.
  2. FindLaw offers an extensive set of legal resources, including guidance on choosing a legal structure for your business: Click to go to FindLaw
  3. The Small Business Administration (SBA) webpage presents a variety of factors to consider when selecting the best form of ownership for your business:  Click to go to SBA Starting a Business page
  4. Nolo’s website, with a wide range of do-it-yourself legal guides, provides help with picking the best structure for your business: Click to go to NOLO
  • REGISTERING THE BUSINESS NAME
  1. In addition to selecting an attractive name that describes your business, you need to choose a unique name that is not already being claimed or used. Some recommendations on how to eliminate those already being used are listed.
  2. After deciding on the preferred name for your business, you may request the right to use that name by registering with the Secretary of State or U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. At the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, you can search for federally registered trademarks:  Click to search US Patent and Trademark Office. The Louisiana Secretary of State corporations database can be searched to indicate what names are already registered for use in Louisiana:  Click to go to the Secretary of State’s website
  3. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers provides global coordination of Internet protocol for domain names and addresses.  Registrars accredited by ICANN are listed at: Click to go to ICANN’s site
  4. Contact the parish (or county) clerk of court to determine if a local business name registration is required.
  5. It is also a good idea to conduct a basic internet search using several search engines to see if your potential business name is already being used or if there are other conflicts or problems associated with using that name for your business.
  6. For further guidance on choosing a name, visit FindLaw:  Click to go to FindLaw’s Naming Your Business Page
  • FEDERAL REGISTRATION
  1. Employer ID Numbers (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, identifies a business entity.  Generally, businesses with multiple owners or employees need an EIN. Other situations, such as the sale of alcohol, tobacco, or firearms, require the federal number as well.

Application for Employer Identification Number: Click to download the Application in PDF form. or Click to apply online.

Instructions for Form SS-4: Click to download instructions.

  • STATE REGISTRATION
  1. Application for Louisiana Revenue Account Number

Corporations that register with the Louisiana Secretary of State (except for Limited Liability Companies) are automatically given a Corporation Income and Franchise Tax (CIFT) account number.  Other corporations and all businesses registering for any type of tax payment must complete the application for a Louisiana revenue account number.

Online Application

Application Form

Application Instructions

2.  Application for an Unemployment Insurance Account Number

Every employer operating in Louisiana is required to complete and submit a Status Report, LDOL-ES1A, for an official determination of their liability for unemployment insurances taxes.

Form and Instructions

 

Louisiana Secretary Of State: Commercial Division – GeauxBix.com

 

Local Permits, Taxes, and Registration

  • Before committing to a location, contact the local Planning and Zoning Office to verify that the site you have selected is approved for the type of business use that you intend to operate.
  • A Certificate of Occupancy is usually required to assure that the building you select is safe and suitable for public use.  This generally requires that the structure be assessed by a building inspector who approves the location or notes deficiencies that require correction.  There is typically a fire safety inspection as well, to determine that the structure is free of conditions that might cause fires, endanger lives, or violate codes.  The Certificate of Occupancy may be granted once both the building and fire safety inspections are completed in a satisfactory manner.
  • Occupational Licenses may be required by local governments as a means of regulating business activity within their jurisdictions.  The license may require payment of a fee, which is based on gross receipts as established by the Louisiana occupational license tax tables.
  • Businesses required to collect sales tax need to register with the designated local authority in their parish (or county).  Information about sales tax rates, the parish tax agencies, or application form is provided at the Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators (LAOTA) website:  Click to go to LAOTA’s homepage.
  • Commercial property, land, and improvements are subject to an annual ad valorem tax assessment.  The local assessor lists the property and records its fair market value.  The Louisiana Assessors’ Association provides links to the tax assessor’s office in each parish:  Click to go to the Louisiana Assessor’s Association homepage

 

Business Licenses and Regulatory Agencies

Specific types of business operations require additional oversight and licensing.  Some state agencies and resources that may help with determining the requirements for your business venture are listed below.

Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control
Louisiana Board of Pharmacy
Louisiana Board of Wholesale Drug Distributors
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals – Food and Drug Program
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals – Office of Public Health
Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board
Louisiana Secretary of State – Geauxbiz.com
Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
Office of Financial Institutions
State Board of Certified Public Accountants of Louisiana

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BUSINESS GUIDE: EXPLORING ENTREPRENEURIAL OPTIONS

Business Guide: Exploring Entrepreneurial Options

ASSESS PERSONAL AND BUSINESS SUCCESS FACTORS

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur embarking on your first business venture or an experienced owner striving for renewed vitality, this webpage can help guide you through the process.

1 .) Determine Entrepreneurial Aptitude

  • Successful entrepreneurs share some common characteristics.  Examples of the personal qualities and work traits demonstrated by thriving entrepreneurs can be found at the Small Business Administration (SBA) website: Click to go to the SBA Starting a Business page.
  • If your personality and habits seem similar to those described on the SBA web pages, you may be well suited to business ownership.  If not, you may want to spend more time considering how well the entrepreneurial lifestyle suits your needs.
  • Every person thinking about business startup should begin work on developing the key skills that are critical for business success.  The SBA website also offers guidance for avoiding the most common mistakes of small business owners: http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/getready/SERV_SBPLANNER_ISENTFORU.html.

2.) Generate Business Ideas

  • In addition to the basic motivation and desire to start a business, specific skills or resources that contribute to the business venture are also needed.  When your ability, commitment, and preparation for the responsibilities of entrepreneurship are confirmed, you need to create viable ideas for the type of business opportunity that meets your expectations and fills a market need.  An objective evaluation of your resources and the external business environment will help prioritize the ideas and focus your attention.

Assess Available Resources

  • Assess the professional and personal resources that you bring to the business enterprise.
  • Applied research, patent, license, product prototype?
  • Seed money, grant funds, early investors?
  • Equipment, materials, land, building?
  • Specific skills, talents, interests, hobbies?
  • Education, experience, training?
  • Associations, networks, connections, friends?

Research Various Options

  • Search for business ideas that utilize or enhance the resources that you have.
  • Contact LA Tech Office of Intellectual Property or federal laboratory to license research.
  • Look at magazines, business and trade journals, newspapers, television, Internet.
  • Conduct demographic analysis of the area, nation or globe to quantify your market.
  • Study general characteristics, trends, growth patterns, future predications for individual or business behavior.
  • Review literature to familiarize yourself with the industry and business environment.
  • Access trade/industry journals, hobby magazines, reference books, websites, associations.
  • Ask, look & listen for opinions, complaints, changes, and ideas related to your business opportunity.
  • Visit other businesses, trade shows, conferences, similar cities or areas, and large metros for trends.
  • Question industry experts, business managers, employees, customers, friends, and neighbors.
      Click on links below for a few sources for information on available technology, demographics, trends, and entrepreneurial activity:

An official U.S. Government source for Small Business Innovation Research  information.

U.S. Census Bureau is the primary source of data about the U.S. population and economy

Statistical Abstract provides statistics on social, political, and economic activities in the United States

Claritas market segments offer “snapshots” of demographic traits, lifestyle preferences and consumer behaviors

Red Herring, Inc. covers innovation, technology, financing and entrepreneurial activity

Entrepreneur’s hot ideas

 3.) Evaluate Alternatives

      Determine feasibility and/or prioritize among multiple options using objective measures.  Resist the temptation to ask advice from family and friends.  You need objective opinions.An example of a business feasibility assessment tool, developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, can be found at:

Click here to download the assessment

While evaluating viability of the business concept, it is prudent to also consider the various methods of initiating business activity: buy an existing business, start a new business, or buy a franchise. Information on each of these options can be found at the Nolo and SBA (Small Business Administration) websites:

Choosing your Business Name

Buying or Selling a Business

SBA Small Business Planner

4.) Begin Pre-Venture Process

    Pre-venture preparation begins with you.  First, determine your commitment & comfort with the personal aspects of the business venture.  Do you have the necessary attitude, resources, and skills?  Identify business options that make use of what you already have available or can realistically attain.  Generate a variety of reasonable options.  Evaluate and prioritize those options.  Consider which start up method is most practical for you.  Begin developing a business plan.  Obtain additional information, training, and advice.  Make use of this website, the Louisiana Tech University Technology Business Development Center, and other resources providing assistance for technology-based businesses.

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