The Pelican State has a culture of entrepreneurs. Just look at Duck Dynasty — a local family who started from humble beginnings making duck calls and grew their operation into a hunting, gear, and apparel empire!
OK, that’s a pretty remarkable example, but there are thousands of stories of small business owners who work hard to make a living in Louisiana. In fact, over half of the state’s employees work for smaller businesses, typically in the construction or service industries. And 80% of Louisiana’s startups survive the first year.
If you’re starting a business in Louisiana, you have a bright future ahead. But you need to begin on the right foot by building your business according to the state’s guidelines. This typically includes registering with the state and obtaining a Louisana business license and required permits. If you sell goods, you also may need to get a vendor license.
Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work of researching the state’s guidelines for you. All you have to do is follow along and roll up your sleeves. Once you complete the paperwork, you’ll be well on your way to officially opening your doors.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Here’s the quick answer — it depends on what you do and where you work. There’s no one official license that covers every business type in the state. Instead, you may need one if you work in certain professions, like accounting, cosmetology, or dentistry. You can check out a list of professions here and get information about the licensing process for each trade. Other professions, like marketing and writing, may be exempt.
If you’re unsure about licensing before officially opening your business, it’s best to contact the Louisiana Secretary of State. The state built a resource, geauxBIZ, that creates a customized checklist for starting a business in Louisiana. Once you create an account and enter basic information about your venture, you’ll learn how to:
It’s important to know whether or not you need a business license to operate. If you start working without one (and it’s a requirement), you may end up owing a fee, or worse, getting shut down by the state. Don’t put yourself at risk. Instead, find out what licenses and permits you need ahead of time. Then complete the paperwork.
The good news is there are a lot of benefits to getting a business or vendor license in Louisiana. For example, an official license can:
Trust me, it’s worth the time and effort to follow the state’s guidelines.
Ready to take the next step? Let’s continue on!
Some states require vendors (those selling goods) to get vendor licenses before opening up shop. But in Louisiana, local cities and towns issue vendor licenses.
For example, the City of New Orleans requires all mobile vendors to obtain permits before selling goods. If you’re planning on selling food or goods in the streets, sidewalks, or other public spaces in New Orleans (think about the opportunity during Mardi Gras), you’ll need to get a mobile vendor permit first. You can find out more about getting a mobile vendor permit in New Orleans here.
Baton Rouge has similar rules to follow. If you’re a “rolling vendor,” meaning you change your retail location from day to day or week to week, you likely need to get a city vendor license before serving your first customer.
The Louisiana Secretary of State created a helpful website, geauxBIZ, to walk you through the steps of starting a business. Just create your account and enter a few details about your location. It’ll instruct you on:
The state has centers dedicated to support small business owners, like you. There are at least 10 development centers across the state — from the northern region to the coast — that offer counseling and training.
If you have questions about correctly setting up your business, it’s best to reach out to a professional at an LSBDC. Find the center closest to where you work.
No matter where you are in the process, it’s important to stay organized. As you register your business and acquire local licenses and permits, it helps to have key information on hand. For example, you may want to collect paperwork with:
In Louisiana, licenses are usually required based on the type of work you do. For example, business owners who work in healthcare, safety, or other high-risk professions, usually need licenses before working with customers.
The state has a helpful webpage that lists various professions and links directly to information about their professional licensing boards. Check it out to learn more about getting a license in your industry.
You also may need to get a license or permit for the city or county where you work. It’s best to contact your local municipal department directly to find out. The city or town clerk where you work should be able to help educate you on the process and provide the right paperwork needed to complete it.
Remember, don’t skip this step. Even if you follow the guidelines for professional state licensing, you may risk having to potentially pay a penalty for missing a local license.
No matter what type of business you own — or where you work — it’s important to get business insurance. You’ll likely need to present a Certificate of Insurance (COI) to get a local or professional business license. But if not, getting a business insurance policy is typically a good idea anyway. Here’s why.
General liability insurance can help protect you financially if there’s an accident or injury at your workplace. Meanwhile, professional liability insurance typically covers you if you’re accused of negligence or are involved in another claim. It can help pay for legal costs if you’re sued, which unfortunately, can be fairly common for many small business owners.
Fortunately, Simply Business makes it easy to compare business insurance policy options in Louisiana. Check out their free quote tool to review policies that can work for your business.
You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.
That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $19.58/month.*Start Here >
In Louisiana, there are state professional licenses and business licenses distributed by local cities and towns. Therefore, the costs can vary.
It’s best to research costs ahead of time and budget for them. Most likely, you’ll be able to quickly recoup any costs and fees as soon as you officially open your business and get your first customer. You’ll want to budget for these administrative expenses each year, too. Remember, there are costs to not paying for a license. You may end up paying a late fee, penalty, or worse, for legal fees if your business is threatened.
Starting a business has its share of costs, and it’s worth the effort to pay fees timely. When you’re successfully up and running, you won’t be concerned about the costs of fees. You’ll consider them just part of the job. And trust me, paying these minor fees is well worth the investment.
There’s nothing more fulfilling than building your own company from the ground up and watching it flourish, especially in your home state of Louisiana.
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.