If you were wondering how to start a business in Georgia, you’ve come to the right place. From getting your Georgia Business License to learning about labor laws and permits to determining the best tax structure for your new business
With the second fastest growth rate for start-ups in the nation, starting a business in Georgia is a great choice for entrepreneurs.
With our step-by-step guide, you can be able to know how to start a business in Georgia and get on the fast lane to financial and personal independence.
What does it cost to start a business in Georgia?
Within 90 days of its establishment, each Georgian company must file an initial annual registration listing three main officials with the Foreign Minister. The fee is $50.00 for non-profits and professional companies and $30.00 for non-profits.
The cost of incorporating a Georgia Limited Liability Company (LLC) is $100 online or $110 in the mail. This fee is paid to the Georgia Corporations Division when filing the LLC’s articles of association.
There are two ways to set up your LLC:
- You can hire a professional LLC incorporation service to set up your LLC (for an additional small fee).
- Or, you can use our free guide to Form an LLC in Georgia to do this yourself.
What are the requirements to apply for a business license in Georgia?
To attempt to start a business in Georgia, you must obtain a business license from the Georgia Office of Revenue. The applicant submits the following documents / payments:
- Completed and signed new business tax application;
- SAVE notarized affidavits and check them electronically (affidavits from the previous year are not permitted);
- Copy of government issued photo ID;
- $75 non-refundable registration fee payable to the City of Atlanta;
- $50 non-refundable zoning review fee payable to the City of Atlanta;
- Approvals (if applicable)
The tax office will send an official business license certificate within 5-7 business days of receiving full compliance and payment.
The applicant displays the business license certificate in a clearly visible place at the business location.
Steps to start a Business in Georgia
Here are the detailed guidelines on how to start a business in Georgia and the necessary requirements you will need to start and grow your business in the state of Georgia. Let’s explore them.
Step 1: Choose a Business Idea
The first step in starting a Georgia business is with a good business idea. Perhaps you have already chosen an idea, or perhaps you are still deciding on one.
Regardless, our library of business ideas has detailed industry information, trends, start-up costs, tips, and much more about many different types of businesses.
Take the time to discover and research ideas for your business. At this stage, consider your own interests, skills, resources, availability, and the reasons why you want to start a business.
You should also consider the likelihood of success based on the interests of your community and whether your business idea meets an unmet need.
Step 2: Write a Business Plan
Once you have a solid business idea, it’s time to start working on the business plan.
After you’ve chosen an idea, it’s time to come up with a business plan to determine your chances of winning. When you create a plan, you will have a better idea of the startup costs, your competition, and money-making strategies.
Investors and lenders should review your business plan before providing any financial assistance. You can prepare for this by creating a plan before you start applying for funding.
Many people only think about writing a business plan because the bank is asking for one in order to get money. While this is a valid reason, more importantly, creating a business plan tears the entrepreneur’s ideas out of his head and creates a roadmap for where to do business.
Just as most builders wouldn’t build a home without a blueprint, a business owner shouldn’t build a business without a business plan.
At the very least, you should have good answers to the following questions.
Naming a company can be a challenge. You want to choose a brand name that follows Georgia naming rules, resonates with your customers, and is available as a URL.
What problem is your company solving? What makes your product or service different from the competition?
Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How are you going to grab their attention and convert them into buyers?
People and partnerships
What roles do you need to hire and what professional relationships do you need to build to be successful?
How many customers or sales do you need to break even? How much money will it take to get there and where do you get the funding from?
Step 3: Select a Business unit
The next step in starting a business in Georgia is choosing a business unit.
The business unit is sometimes referred to as the business structure or legal structure, which refers to how a company is legally organized. There are four main companies: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC).
Step 4: Register your company
Registering your company in Georgia as a legal entity such as an LLC or a corporation has two main advantages:
- Increased credibility
- Protection from personal liability in the event that your company is sued
For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a good option. Compared to other companies, LLCs are easier to set up, easier to manage and have favourable tax treatment. You can start an LLC in Georgia for just $140.
If you fail to register your company as a business entity, you will be responsible for your company’s debts and liabilities.
Step 5: Register for taxes
With limited exceptions, most companies require an EIN (Employer Identification Number), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN identifies a business on its federal tax returns. Without EIN you will not be able to hire employees or open a commercial bank account.
You should also be aware of important Georgian taxes that may apply to your business:
- Typically, when selling a physical product, you must register for Georgia sales tax.
- When you hire employees, you must register for unemployment insurance tax and employee tax on behalf of your employees.
Step 6: Create business banking and credit accounts
Using dedicated commercial bank and credit accounts is essential to protecting personal assets.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is known as piercing your company veil.
Additionally, when you learn how to build business credit, you can get credit cards and other finance on behalf of your business (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and much more.
There are two steps you can take to protect your business:
1. Opening a commercial bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from the assets of your company that are necessary for the protection of personal assets.
- Facilitates bookkeeping and tax returns.
2. Get a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Creates your company’s credit history, which can be useful for later raising capital (such as small business loans).
Step 7: Set up an accounting system
An accounting system helps you keep track of your company’s performance and simplifies annual tax returns. With high quality accounting software, you can download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting quick and easy.
Step 8: Obtain Permits and Licenses
To legally operate your new business, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this requires obtaining one or more business permits and / or licenses. For example, a restaurant is likely to need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
Step 9: Get Insured
Business insurance helps you manage risk and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance to consider are:
- General liability insurance
- Labor compensation insurance
- Professional liability insurance
It is usually recommended that all small businesses, including private companies, take out general liability insurance.
Companies that sell professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Georgia, companies with three or more employees, excluding executives and LLC members are to take out employee compensation insurance.
Step 10: Define your brand and promote your business
The strong and most memorable companies are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, consider the following:
- What does your company stand for?
- What are your core values?
- And what creates customer trust?
Once you are sure of your answers to these questions, it is time to move on to your company name. Your company name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business.
Promoting your business
There are many different ways to promote your business, but the two most effective methods are:
- Press releases
Press releases are a great way to promote your brand and one of the most cost-effective strategies because they:
- Offers advertising
- Establish your brand on the web
- Improve your website’s SEO and bring more customers to your website
- Are one-time costs in terms of effort and money
- Have long lasting benefits
A Facebook page is a great, free way to interact with your customers. However, it takes continuous effort to be successful.
The following are the uses of a Facebook page:
- Establish your local business presence
- Showcase your business products and services
- Communicate with your customers
- Receive and share reviews from customers
- Promote your business through ads when it may not be suitable for your business.
Step 11: Set up a web presence
A professional website is vital to the long-term success of your business, no matter what industry you are in. A website enables potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also adds credibility to your business.
In addition to having a website, there are other ways you should consider promoting your business online:
- Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Create accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc.)
- Register for a local Google profile
Famous Businesses in Georgia
The availability of talent in Georgia, the unmatched business environment and quality of life, as well as access to global markets via the world’s busiest and most efficient airport are just a few reasons why countless companies choose Georgia as their global headquarters.
A number of Georgia-based companies have made it to Forbes’ annual list of the 2,000 largest publicly traded companies in the world. Let’s look at some of them.
Delta Air Lines, Inc., commonly referred to as Delta, is one of the largest airlines in the United States and a legacy carrier. It is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
The airline, along with its subsidiaries and regional subsidiaries, including Delta Connection, operates over 5,400 daily flights and serves 325 destinations in 52 countries on six continents.
Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance.
Delta has nine hubs, with Atlanta being the largest in terms of total number of passengers and number of departures.
It is the second-largest company in the world in terms of the number of scheduled passengers carried, the passenger-kilometers flown, and the size of the fleet. It’s 69th on the Fortune 500.
The Coca-Cola Company is an American interested in the manufacturing, retailing, and marketing of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. They are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
AT&T Mobility LLC, also known as AT&T Wireless and simply marketed as AT&T, is an American telecommunications company. It is wholly owned by AT&T Inc. and provides wireless services in the United States.
AT&T Mobility is the largest wireless operator in the United States. The company is headquartered in Brookhaven, Georgia.
The Blue Bird Corporation (originally known as the Blue Bird Body Company) is an American bus manufacturer headquartered in Fort Valley, Georgia.
Best known for making school buses, the company has also manufactured a variety of other types of buses, including transit buses, RVs, and specialty vehicles such as mobile libraries and mobile police command centers.
Blue Bird is currently concentrating its product range on school and active buses as well as special vehicle derivatives
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS for short) is an American television and media conglomerate that is part of WarnerMedia from AT&T, based in Atlanta, Georgia, and that is merging with Time Warner.
The Turner properties are headquartered in both the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta and the Turner Broadcasting campus on Techwood Drive in Midtown Atlanta, which is also home to Turner Studios.
The company was known for several ground-breaking innovations in US multichannel television, including the satellite uplink of the local independent broadcaster WTCG Channel 17 in Atlanta as one of the first national “superstations” and the creation of CNN – the first 24-hour news network.
Georgia s reputed to be one of the states in the United States that has the right environment for businesses, especially start-ups, to thrive.
Many of the celebrated bug corporations existing in that state like coca cola, AT&T, has recorded a track record of consistent growth over the years from Georgia and becoming global brands and household names around the world.
Yours too can thrive if you follow these principles and apply them. So, start now.
- How to Start a Business in Georgia – How to Start an LLC
- www.georgia.org › small-business › start
- Starting a Business in Georgia | Simple, Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Start a Business in Georgia | 9 Essential Steps | Nolo