FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What are the steps to starting a business?
- What is a business plan and how do I write one?
- How do I get a grant to start my business?
- What incentives are available for my business?
- How do I get an SBA loan?
- I have several questions about taxes. Where can I get assistance?
The major steps to starting a business include:
- Writing a business plan
- Determining your business structure
- Naming, registering, and securing tax identification numbers for your business
- Securing financing for your business
- Getting your occupational license
- Acquiring necessary permits and inspections
- Complying with regulating entities
- Getting business insurance
A business plan is a blueprint and a communication tool for your business. It is a roadmap to what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.
There are different ways to organize your plan, but an outline of the major components of a business plan can be found here.
There are several resources available to assist with preparing your business plan. Additionally, you can find sample business plans and business plan software online. SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Businesses, has a business planning workbook that will walk you through the process of putting together your business plan.
Although some people you see on television would like you to believe that there are several programs that provide grants to individuals who are looking to start a business, the truth is that most startup companies will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to qualify for grant dollars. There are no state or federal government grants available for starting a business.
The government does offer grants to small businesses for research and product development in very targeted areas through the Small Business Innovative Research Program. Most grants to businesses are from non-profit organizations that are funding specific programs in a niche area, but they are not for general operating expenses or to cover startup costs. To search for federal grants and apply online, visit www.grants.gov.
There are many incentives available to businesses looking to relocate to Louisiana or grow their operations within Louisiana. There are incentives aimed at supporting financing for small businesses, at providing workforce training to growing businesses, supporting business growth in certain industries, and assisting with site location for new businesses.
To secure an "SBA loan" you need to start with your local lending institution. The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not make direct loans to businesses. They do, however, guarantee loans made by banks and other private lenders. This guarantee, or backing, lowers the risk to the lender, which enables him to make a loan that he otherwise might consider too risky.
Tax laws and their applicability to a business vary greatly from one business to the next. Determining the applicability of tax laws and what you, as a business owner, need to do to be in compliance with those laws is something that requires professional assistance from a certified public accountant (CPA) or a tax attorney.
To find a CPA in your area, you may contact the Louisiana Association of Certified Public Accountants.
To find a tax attorney or other legal professional in your area, you may contact the Louisiana Bar Association or call their Lawyer Referral Service at 225.344.9926. Additionally, you may find BRAC member attorneys, accountants, and CPA's in our membership directory.