One of the first steps to take when starting a Louisiana business is to perform a Louisiana corporation search

The Louisiana Secretary of State website keeps a registry of Louisiana business entities that exist or have dissolved through the corporation division.

The database is free to use and makes it easy to find existing businesses or see if a business name may be available.

How to search Louisiana business names

Searching for Louisiana businesses is done through the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Louisiana Corporations and LLCs are searchable by the following criteria:

  • Corporate and LLC
  • Corporate
  • LLC

Louisiana business entity search

The “search by name” filter is the most commonly used when performing a name availability search. 

There is no need to enter phrases like “LLC, Corp, or other naming designations, as the database will generate results for every type of entity.

LLC search

The categories for searching by LLC are: 

  1. Name
  2. Key Word
  3. Partial Word
  4. File Number

Business status

One way to get ideas on business names that can be available is by performing a corporation/LLC search and considering names that have been dissolved. 

If a business has a certificate of good standing, it is not available to register. However, dissolved or inactive names can be used if approved by the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Trademark search

One thing to remember is that even though the desired Louisiana business name may be available, it could have a registered trademark.

Performing a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before selecting a business name could prevent headaches in the future.

Next steps

1. Check if the domain name is available

  • Many of the .com domain names with six or fewer letters are already taken, so getting creative may be necessary. Websites like Namechk  and GoDaddy can help filter available domain names and suggest alternatives that may be a good fit.
  • While a .com is the most familiar domain extension used, extensions like .co, .net, and .io are becoming more commonly used as the internet ages and can be a good fit once a company name is selected.

2. Check if the social media name is available

In the digital age, it is essential to have a solid social media presence. Customers will often check sites like Yelp and Google Reviews to gauge what others think about a business. Some other tips on social media for a Louisiana business entity:

  • Having a strong social media presence for small businesses is an excellent way to boost organic presence on the web, impress customers, and build awareness.
  • Unfortunately, like domain names, social media handles are often hoarded. Make sure to check sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to ensure the handle is not being used.
  • If the handle is available, lock the username in place to make sure it is not taken.
  • Software platforms like SocialPilot can help simplify managing various social media platforms.

3. Register Louisiana Business Entity

After selecting a business name, businesses can register their articles of incorporation with the Louisiana Corporation Commission. 

Another option is to file with companies like Northwest Registered Agent,  Incfile, or ZenBusiness, who can take care of the filings for as little as $0 plus state filing fees

For further step-by-step instructions on how to file your LLC, check out this Louisiana LLC Guide.

4. Register TAX ID/EIN with the IRS

An EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies a business for tax purposes. Think of it as a social security number for businesses. Filing your EIN for a limited liability company (LLC) is straightforward and can be done online. Louisiana corporations can register for a Tax ID for $79 with Swyft Filings.

5. Create a logo

Similar to selecting a good business name, businesses with a great logo impress customers, help distinguish themselves from the competition, and create a positive visual memory of your unique business services for customers.

With the emergence of freelance marketplaces, it is easy to get a logo done on Fiverr in 24 hours or less.

6. Write a business plan

Writing a business plan can help organize business owners’ ideas and create a pathway for businesses to follow. Having a professionally written business plan also impresses investors and helps create accountability.

Liveplan.com is a business plan software that can help make the process easy as they have over 500 sample plans to choose from.

Businesses that form partnerships should consider having a professional operating agreement.

7. Open a business bank account

Having a business bank account is required for businesses as it helps keep business and personal finances separate. It also helps build business credibility in the event business loans are needed to grow the business in the future. 

Businesses must have a business mailing address in order to open a business bank account and are not allowed to use a PO box as their primary mailing address.

Lili and Novo are online banks that specialize in working with freelancers and entrepreneurs.

We recommend Novo Bank

Built for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

8. Setup an email account

Google Workspace can help set up an @yourcompany email address for as little as $6 per month.

Plan on running your business well

Google Workspace helps with email addresses, team collaboration, productivity, and more.

9. Register a trademark

One of the easiest ways to file a trademark is through LegalZoom. They have options to file by themselves or pay an additional fee to have an attorney take care of the filings.

Louisiana business structure naming considerations

When selecting a Louisiana business name, it is essential to understand the different naming requirements for each entity type.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships

In Louisiana, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the corporation division to begin business operations. In addition, sole Proprietorships typically operate under a person’s name, so there is no need to perform a business name search in most situations.

Like Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships are relatively easy to file and generally include all partners’ last names (ex: Smith, Jones, and Lasalle). 

LLCs 

LLCs are separate legal entities that separate owners’ business interests, debts, and liabilities from personal responsibilities. Names for LLCs are required to be filed with the Alabama Secretary of State and must be unique.

A few reminders when naming LLCs:

  • Louisiana business names must include the words “LLC, LLC, or the phrase limited liability company. “LLC” is most commonly used after a business name, so we recommend using that abbreviation when filing Louisiana articles of organization.
  •  An LLC name should not include the terms Inc., Corporation, Corp, or Incorporated in the LLC name.
  • The state may not approve a Louisiana business name if it is not distinguishable from the other business.

Corporations

Corporations, like LLCs, are separate legal entities that require filing with the corporation commission. Corporations are reasonably complex and typically used by large companies looking to issue stock and attract investors.

Corporation naming considerations:

  • Corporations must include “corp”, “corporation”, “Inc”, “limited”, or “company” in the business name to indicate that it is a corporation.
  • S Corporations are subject to the same naming requirements as traditional corporations.
  • Professional Corporations must indicate that they are one by using “professional corporation” by using the letters “PC” instead of typical corporate designation.

FAQs

Is a registered agent required to file an LLC in the state of Louisiana?

A registered agent is designated to receive official papers for your LLC, LLP, or corporation. Individuals can act as their registered agent as long as a physical address (p.o. box is not allowed) is used in the state where your business entity is formed.

One of the main benefits of using a third-party registered agent company is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and the general population. The registered agent company receives all documents on a business’s behalf and can mail them to you privately.

Northwest Registered Agent offers free mail forwarding and has an excellent reputation in the industry.

Starting a business? Our number one pick for registered agent services is Northwest Registered Agent

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How do I reserve a Louisiana business name?

Reserve a Louisiana business name by filling out a name reservation form and filing it with the Louisiana Secretary of State. The cost to reserve a name is $25 and it locks the name in place for 120 days.

Where can I find information on Louisiana business licenses?

Business license information can be found on the www.Louisiana.gov license site.

Why should I file a trademark? How do I file?

A trademark gives entrepreneurs legal protections over their brand. As your Louisiana business grows, competitors tend to pop up to try and compete against you in the marketplace. 

A trademark sends a message to competitors that may be looking into your niche that you mean business. 

Trademarks can also grow in value over time as your business grows. If you are ever hoping to sell your business down the line, having a solid trademark can add to your valuation.

Suppose your business has a physical product that you are looking to sell on sites like Amazon. In that case, there are special features businesses can access with a registered trademark, which helps prevent infringement on your products.

  • Because the database is very complex to navigate, some people prefer to pay companies like Legalzoom to do the work for them.
  • Check out the Legalzoom Trademark options to see if it makes sense for your limited liability company once you have zeroed in on an entity name.

Should I file a Louisiana DBA

A DBA (doing business as), or trade name, is an assumed business name that companies operate under for business outside of the formal LLC name

Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:

  1. Expansion possibilities: having a DBA enables businesses to expand past their original business without starting a new business entity. Simply creating a new DBA and operating under the existing LLC is all that is needed.
  2. Privacy: One of the best benefits of having a DBA is that it gives businesses the ability to operate under a fictitious business name and not have owners’ names revealed publically.

How do I dissolve a Louisiana LLC?

Louisiana business entities can dissolve if they’re longer active to avoid the accumulation of annual fees.  Visit the Louisiana.gov site to dissolve a business.

Is an annual report required in Louisiana?

Louisiana businesses and nonprofits are required to file annual reports to stay in good standing with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Create an account on the Geauxbiz site and the annual report forms are available for download.