So, You Want to Start Your Own Business

So, You Want to Start Your Own Business

Establishing a new business, requires careful planning. The number of details to be considered often amazes and sometimes discourages persons venturing into business for the first time. The following information has been compiled to assist prospective new business owners. The objective of this section is to provide a directory of sources of information, licenses, and permits, and to give an indication of the legal requirements that may affect new business owners. Although the information deals specifically with the New Orleans area, much of it is also applicable to other parts of Louisiana.

Every legal business operating in the New Orleans area must have proper state and local business licenses and permits. The procedures for obtaining them are as follows:

The local or parish government issues a certificate of occupancy upon certifying that your location is zoned properly for your business.

The state of Louisiana no longer requires a state occupational license. Nevertheless, you should get information about the appropriate licensing board(s) for your profession from the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation.

All parishes in the New Orleans area require local occupational licenses. The cost of the license is based primarily on annual gross receipts and varies according to business classification.

Any business selling beer, wine, soft drinks, or tobacco must obtain a state beverage or tobacco permit.

Any business dealing in food must have a local food permit. Other local permits, such as vendor permits, may be needed depending on the type of business. When you register for your local occupational license, be sure to ask what permits are necessary.

State of Louisiana

LA Secretary of State
State Capitol
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
(225) 922-1000

Business Corporations Division
(225) 925-4704

Form Request Hotline
(225) 922-2044

Online Filing

For Alcohol and Tobacco Permits
Office of Alcoholic and Tobacco Control
8585 Archives Ave., Ste 305
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
(225) 925-4041

Local Office:
1450 Poydras St., Suite 850
New Orleans, LA 70112

Orleans Parish City of New Orleans One-Stop Shop
1300 Perdido St.
7th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112 658-7100

At One-Stop Shop:

Business Permits & Licences
•Occupational/General Business•Food/Alcohol•For Hire Industry, Tour Guides and Planners•Electrical/Mechanical Contractor• Emergency Medical Services/EMS•Bed & Breakfasts•Vendors•Adult Services•Amusement & Game•Pawn Broker

Event/Film Permits & Licences
•Fair/Market/Festival•Film•Food Sales & Preparations•Mardi Gras•Parades & Races•Parking•Parks & Rec Center•Street Closures and Metter Rentals•Tents & Stages•Other

Building Permits & Licenses
•Construction•Demolition•Mechanical/Electrical•Signs•Certificate of Occupancy
•Street•Planning Project

Jefferson Parish

East Bank: 1221 Elmwood Park, Ste. 101 Harahan, LA 70123 736-6957

West Bank: 400 Maple St.
Harvey, LA 70058 364-3512


200 Derbigny St., Suite 1200, 1st Fl., Gretna Court House Gretna, LA 70053 363-5637

1233 Westbank Expressway, Rm. 425
Harvey, LA 70058 376-2459

Jefferson Parish Muncipalities

City of Gretna
2nd and Huey P. Long Ave., Room 105
Gretna, LA 70053 363-1555

City of Harahan
6437 Jefferson Highway
Harahan, LA 70123 737-6383

City of Kenner
1801 Williams Blvd., Bldg. B
Kenner, LA 70062 468-7200

City of Westwego
419 Avenue A
Westwego, LA 70094 341-3424

Grand Isle Town Hall
Ludwig Lane
P.O. Box 200
Grand Isle, LA 70358 787-3196

Town of Lafitte
Town Clerk’s Office
2654 Jean Lafitte Blvd.
Lafitte, LA 70067 689-2208

Taxes Employee/Employer Taxes

As an employer, you must withhold state and federal income taxes and social security taxes from the wages of your employees, pay the employer Social Security tax , and pay taxes under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (for unemployment insurance). For more information on Social Security, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration Office at 330 N. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has prepared Circular E- Employer’s Guide to explain and assist you in paying employer taxes. For more information on federal taxes, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit the IRS office at F. Edward Hebert Bldg., 600 S. Maestri, New Orleans, LA 70130. Hours are  M - F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The free Tax Guide for Small Business can be obtained from the local office. Federal tax numbers can be obtained from the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040.

The IRS offers a small business tax workshop that explains benefits and obligation for small businesses. For more information about the workshop, call: 558-3011.

Self-employment Tax

A self-employed individual whose net earnings from self-employment are at least $400 per year is subject to the self-employment tax for purposes of old age, survivors, disability, and hospital insurance benefits. Information on this tax can be obtained by contacting the IRS, 600 S. Maestri St., New Orleans, LA 70130, or call 1-800-829-1040.

Unemployment Insurance Tax

A new employer must pay the federal government a percentage of the state unemployment tax and a percentage of the wages of each employee. For more information, contact: Field Audit Unit, State Employment Service, 737 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA, 70130, or call 1-866-783-5567.

State Sales Tax

To obtain state sales tax information and an application, contact: State of Louisiana, 1450 Poydras St., Suite 800 Floor, New Orleans, LA, 70112

Local Sales Tax

In addition to the state sales tax, some parishes levy sales and use taxes which you must collect. Contact the following offices for more information on taxes in your parishes:

Orleans Bureau of Revenue City Hall, Room 1W15
1300 Perdido St.
New Orleans, LA 70112 658-1600

Jefferson Parish Bureau of Revenue and Taxation
P.O. Box 627
Metairie, LA 70004 832- 2470

For Walk-In Payments
1233 Westbank Expressway
Bldg. B, Room 423
Harvey, LA 70058 363-5710


The following laws affect all businesses:

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 can require small businesses to add to, or alter their equipment, facilities, or methods of operation to comply with the act. For more information, contact: Department of Labor, OSHA, Hoover Annex, Suite 200, 9100 Bluebonnet Center Blvd., Suite 201, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.

Wage Hour Law

This law sets the minimum wage and hours standards for employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. For more information, contact: Department of Labor Employment Standards, Administration Wage and Hour Division, 600 Maestri, Ste. 615, New Orleans, LA 70130, or call 589-6171.

Americans with Disabilities Act

This law may affect your business operation in the areas of employment and public accommodations. For more information and specifics of the law, contact:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1555 Poydras St., Ste. 1900, New Orleans, LA 70112, or call 595-2884.

Registering Brand Names and Trademarks

Brand names and trademarks may be registered in the Patent Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce. A search of Patent Office records is advised to determine if your proposed business name is available. You may conduct your own patent search at the office in Washington D.C., however, you may choose to have a patent attorney or patent company conduct it for you for a fee. Be aware that processing the patent application can take up to 12 months, as the Patent Office has thousands of applications each year. For more information, or to receive application forms, contact: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Washington D.C. 20231, or call 1-800-786-9199.

Trade Name Affidavit

To receive a form for a trade name affidavit write: Secretary of State, P.O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125, or call 225-925-4704. When you receive this form, fill it out, get it notarized, and return it to Baton Rouge. The office in Baton Rouge will send back a form with a gold seal. In Orleans Parish, return the gold seal form to: Conveyance Office, Civil Courts, 421 Loyola Ave., Room B3, New Orleans, LA 70112, telephone 592-9170. In all other parishes, return to the Parish Clerk of Court Office. Your trade name will then be registered in the appropriate parish and in the state. Contact the offices for information concerning fees.

Corporate Registration

Information about corporate registration can be obtained from the Secretary of State, P.O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804, telephone (225) 925-4704.


Business Insurance

Too often business owners wrongly assume they cannot afford insurance. Choose a competent insurance agent before your business opens. After discussing your new venture, the agent should be able to make proper recommendations concerning your insurance needs.

To help determine the coverage you need, ask this question: “How much can I afford to lose and still stay in business?” A competent agent can help obtain coverage on a number of risks for the least cost. There are commercial packages of insurance available that may suit your business. These packages are similar to a homeowner’s policy that has multiple-risk coverage at a lower cost than if coverages were taken separately.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

For most types of employment, Worker’s Compensation Insurance is required by law. This policy covers employees for their compensation in the event of job-related injury or death. The policy covers all workers who are “legally employed.” If a minor under the age of employment is injured, the employer may find himself in a serious predicament. The premium for Worker’s Compensation Insurance is based on the entire payroll. For a new business, the payroll for a year is estimated. When the policy is about to expire, the payroll may be audited and a premium adjustment made.


New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 58035
New Orleans, LA 70158 948-0991
The NORBCC, Inc. mission is to empower & sustain the African-American business community through entrepreneurship and economic activity within the greater New Orleans region & global economy as a whole

Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
3421 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 203
Metairie, LA 70002 835-3880
Its mission is to work for the advancement of the business community; to enhance the economic, civic and cultural environment; and to improve the quality of life in Jefferson Parish.

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce
1515 Poydras Street, Ste. 1010
New Orleans, LA 70112 799-4260
The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce was founded to provide members with the opportunity to build mutually beneficial partnerships within the city of New Orleans.


U.S. Dept. of Labor
600 S. Maestri, Ste. 615
New Orleans, LA 70130 589-6171

U.S. Small Business Administration
365 Canal Street, Suite 2820
New Orleans, LA 70130 589-6685
Provides services to owners and prospective owners of small businesses.

U.S. Dept. of Commerce
423 Canal St. #419
New Orleans, LA 70130 589-4179.

U.S. International Trade Administration
365 Canal Street, Suite 1170
New Orleans, LA 70130 589-6646

Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council
400 Poydras, Suite 1960
New Orleans, LA 70130 299-2960
The SRMSDC provides both advocacy and business development services to certified minority-owned business enterprises.

Louisiana Dept. of Economic Development
1051 North Third St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70802 (800) 450-8115
Offers small businesses and minority-owned business special assistance in technical and financial matters.

Louisiana Small Business Development Center
Greater New Orleans Region (LSBDC)
3330 North Causeway Blvd. #447
Metairie, LA 70002 831-3730
These centers provide counseling, library facilities, educational conferences, seminars and workshops for those already in business and for those who plan to enter business.

New Orleans Office of Economic Development
1340 Poydras Street, Ste. 1000
New Orleans, LA 70112 658-4200
The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development exists to spur the growth of a diverse economy that creates good-paying jobs and provides equal access to economic prosperity.

2924 St. Bernard Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70119 208-1700
NewCorp, Inc. is Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) specializing in small, minority, and women owned businesses. It’s mission to be an economic catalyst by providing technical assistance and access to capital to small business in the greater New Orleans community.

Southern University at New Orleans Small Business
Development and Management Institute

7420 Crowder Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70126 242-0006
The Small Business Development and Management Institute at Southern University at New Orleans offers workshops and free consulting services to fuel the establishment and growth of small businesses, primarily in New Orleans East.

4640 S. Carrollton Ave. Ste. 230
New Orleans, LA 70119 620-9647
The Urban League Women’s Business Resource Center assists business owners with formalized business planning and expanding their business through new markets.

Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission
700 Churchill Parkway
Avondale, LA 70094 875-3908
JEDCO’s mission is to proactively influence the economy through the retention and creation of quality jobs, entrepreneurship and investment in Jefferson Parish.



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