I want you to start a business in New Orleans. No, nevermind. I need you to start a business in New Orleans. “Why?” you may ask. Well, the city is in the middle of an entrepreneurial renaissance that will reward the most driven entrepreneurs among us, which will, in turn, positively impact the city in ways that we cannot yet imagine. The more we, as a community, inspire talented people to push themselves, the more all of us will prosper. So, yes, for selfish reasons I want you to get up, get out of your house, and start building the company of your dreams in New Orleans… because by proxy not only will I be more successful, but my city will also be a better place to live.
For the last month I’ve been building a new venture with my business partner, Jason Seidman. Together, we raced through the process of registering a business in the state of Louisiana, and began to get to know and understand the tech ecosystem in New Orleans. Here’s how we did it.
Register Your Small Business
1. Hire a Registered Agent: The truth is that I don’t entirely understand why this is necessary; it just seems like a way to nickel and dime entrepreneurs, and frankly, I don’t appreciate it. That being said, you have to do it, because the state of Louisiana requires all businesses to have a permanent address that is always staffed with someone that can be served with legal documents. We went with registeredagents.com because it was easy and it only cost $49, while we found many other services charging as much as $250.
2. Register your small business with the state: Head over to sos.la.gov and select the type of business you’ll be registering. Most small, for profit businesses with 1-2 principals will file as a Domestic LLC Reg. Articles of Organization, but I’d recommend talking to a CPA if you have any questions as your selection will determine how you file your taxes. The rest of the process is straightforward.
3. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): The feds are going to want their slice of what you make so this step is unavoidable, not to mention you can’t get business credit cards, loans, leases, or just about anything else your business will need to function without an EIN. irs.gov
4. Keep all of this information in a safe place: You’re going to need this information often, especially during the first few weeks your business is getting off the ground. Follow Steps 1-3, and in the eyes of the government you’ll have a successfully set up small business.
Get Involved in the Tech Community
1. Hook up with The Idea Village: The Idea Village is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting you and your business. Whether it’s seed capital or professional consulting hours, The Idea Village solely exists to help you, just give them a shout.
2. Register for New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week (NOEW): Everything you need to know about NOEW can be found in this post by our Editor-In-Chief, Julia Ballard. Do what she says and register today. 🙂
3. Grab a desk at a co-working space: One of the best ways to meet entrepreneurs is in a co-working space. New Orleans has several options where you can meet and hopefully collaborate with the talent that fuels the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Check out Launch Pad and Beta.
4. Join the NOLA Meetup and attend every month: I had been in town less than 48hrs when I attended my first NOLA Meetup this past January. Since then, it still proves to be one of the most valuable decisions I’ve made since moving back to New Orleans. NOLA Meetup is the reason I’m up late writing this post and connecting with all of you, as it is where I met Julia Ballard and a slew of other amazing New Orleans tech enthusiasts.
There isn’t an excuse good enough to stop you from building the business you want in one of the most unique and inspiring cities in the world. The paperwork can be completed in a handful of days, and the connections and support for your small business can be found all over New Orleans. Success is never a guarantee, but the chance to build something and collaborate with very talented and passionate people is well worth the risk of failure. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment on this post or connect with me on Twitter @joecorbett.