Home » OPINION » Columns » MATTHEW McLAUGHLIN — A startup’s guide to Mississippi

MATTHEW McLAUGHLIN — A startup’s guide to Mississippi

I can confidently say that it has never been easier to start a business. Having worked with hundreds of startup and emerging companies over the past 15 years, I have developed a fairly robust professional network throughout Mississippi (and beyond). And while my firm provides technical legal services to these companies, we believe it is our responsibility, as a trusted adviser, to help connect our clients to other resources they may need to succeed. This philosophy is premised on one of our firm’s core beliefs: our success is measured by the success of our clients.

So, to start off the New Year, I would like to share with you some helpful resources – including service providers we work with, partner with, and refer clients to – that can help launch startups into viable, successful businesses.

First, because we regularly file corporate documents all over the country, I can conclusively say that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has made forming a business in Mississippi easier than any other state in the United States.  For only $50, anyone that can turn on a computer can form a corporation or limited liability company in Mississippi in mere minutes.

Then after obtaining a tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service, you will be ready to open a bank account.  Our favorite banks (in no particular order) are BancorpSouth, Renasant, and Trustmark. All three of these financial institutions understand and cater to the needs of small-business banking, and they each make opening a business checking account easy.

Next, if you need a quick visualization brand of your company or a bridge until you have the resources to sit down with a professional graphic designer or brand development firm, there are a number of websites that can generate a quality logo for your business, such as Logojoy and Wix.

Once you have a logo, creating a modest splash page or functioning website can be done both easily and affordably.  We like Wix and Squarespace as simple self-help solutions for the web.  Then after you have established a basic web presence, lock down the appropriate social media channels and you are essentially set, at least for the time being.

While everything discussed above is subject to numerous exceptions, the bottom line is these are examples of reliable, technology-enabled tools that are available for just about anyone setting up a new business.  And the compelling thing is it can be done in a matter of hours!  Literally, you can wake up on a Tuesday morning and have a decent, functioning business presence established by lunch. It’s really quite incredible.

Now, if your business has more specific or specialized needs, there are resources throughout Mississippi to assist you – from guidance to funding.  For example, if you are a technology-based business, we recommend connecting with Innovate Mississippi, a nonprofit organization located in Jackson that assists pre-revenue and post-revenue technology startups develop and hone business strategies, find funding, and accelerate growth.

If you are an entrepreneurial minded college student and need startup assistance, start with your university.  We have worked extremely closely with the wonderful people at the Mississippi State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach by advising some of their student-led startups through the entity formation and capital raising process.  Eric Hill, the director of entrepreneurship, has developed the VentureCatlyst program, which is a comprehensive, co-curricular program for its students and faculty who are interested in starting an investor-backed company.

If you are an entrepreneur in central Mississippi looking for support, check out ElseWorks at the Else School of Management at Millsaps College, my alma mater.  ElseWorks is a faculty-led program designed to encourage and promote entrepreneurship and positive social change in the community, state, and region.  We have worked in partnership with ElseWorks on a number of startup projects in the Midtown Neighborhood, and I will attest to the fact that the value the companies receive through ElseWorks is tremendous.

When you are ready to hire a creative firm, CPA firm, or other professional service provider, Mississippi is home to amazing and trusted talent who have a passion for helping startups, such as Mad Genius, JFP Web, and Grantham Poole CPA, among many, many others.

If your startup is in need of more sophisticated web or app development, I suggest joining the Jackson Area Web and App Development meetup group and attending their monthly meetings.  This group is made up of nearly 800 professional web and app designers and developers located in the Jackson area.  Yes, you read that correctly, nearly 800 professional web and app designers and developers in the Jackson area.

Another aspect to consider is that many startups begin operations working remotely from home or at coffee shops. While this is a low-cost strategy, if you are looking to network and expand your business, there are cost-effective co-working space solutions available. In the Jackson area, I would suggest checking out Mantle in Fondren or Coalesce in Downtown Jackson.

Lastly, once a startup has met a certain measure of success, a financial investment may be needed to continue the growth trajectory, and seeking venture capital in the form of angel investments may be the next step to consider. If you are vetted and meet certain requirements, there is money for the taking through angel investors, including such groups as the Northeast Mississippi Angels, MSU Bulldog Angel Network, and Mississippi CAPCO programs.

It is my hope that this column serves as a resourceful guide for Mississippi startups and also a source of inspiration … because at the end of the day, like my firm, there are other countless service providers in our state who not only want to help startups grow, but who also measure their own success by the success of their clients.

» Matthew P. McLaughlin is an attorney with McLaughlin, PC in Jackson, Mississippi, and serves as the executive director of the Mississippi Brewers Guild.  Matthew’s passion is working with creative and entrepreneurial-minded people and organizations, having worked with and advised hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups, and social innovators throughout the Southeastern United States.  He may be contacted at matthew@mclaughlinpc.com or 601-487-4550, or you may visit www.mclaughlinpc.com for more information.

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