Starting a business in Georgia is not difficult when you know what steps to follow. It is essential to go through each step when developing your business plan to know what to expect as you go through the process of opening a business.
Step 1: Decide what type of business you want to start.
You need to decide the type of business you intend to open and operate. Do you want to have an online-only business? Do you intend to focus on a service-based business? Will you need a physical store for your business? These questions will determine what you need to do next to successfully start a small business.
Step 2: Decide what business structure you want to use.
The business structure will determine business naming rules, filing requirements, and other such aspects to opening a new business in Georgia. In general, there are four different types of business entity structures you could use.
This business structure is where you own the business. It can be a good choice for a small business venture. However, you can be held personally liable and your personal assets are not always protected.
This business structure is where you are starting a business with another person or a small group of people. Each person has an equal interest in the business. Each partner can be held personally liable and everyone’s personal assets may not be protected.
A Limited Liability Company is a business structure that can be used to help protect personal assets and limit personal liability. It is an easy way to start your business in Georgia and can be used in place of a sole proprietorship or partnership.
A corporation is a business structure that consists of shareholders, a board of directors, officers, and employees. If you are going into business with four or more business owners, you may want to consider starting a corporation, as it affords personal liability protection and personal asset protection.
Step 3: Create your business name.
Once you decide on what business structure you want to use, your next step is to create the name for your new business. Naming a business can vary based on the structure you selected. For example, a sole proprietorship in the state of Georgia must use the surname of the business owner in the business name unless you intend on using a fictitious business name, also called a DBA (Doing Business As) or business trade name.
You will want to choose a business name that reflects the brand, products, or services you intend on selling. This step requires you to be creative to ensure your business name stands out from the competition. You will also need to spend some time conducting research to ensure there is not an existing business using the same name.
Additionally, this is the time to see if your business name is available as a domain name to set up your business website. You should also check social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to verify the business name is not already in use.
Step 4: Register your business name in Georgia.
Once you have decided on the name for your business, you will need to register it with the Secretary of State in Georgia. There is a specific application form you will need to complete and submit with the appropriate registration fee.
Step 5: Register your business’s domain name.
After you receive confirmation from the state that your business is registered, you will want to register your business’s domain name. Some people do this before they register their business and that is okay too.
Once your domain name is registered, you can start designing your website. You will need a hosting service for your website to make it accessible to search engines and potential customers.
Step 6: Register your business on social media.
You will want to set up your social media accounts for your business. Doing so will help prevent others from using the same business name later. You can do this step at the same time as you send in your business registration or you can wait for it to be approved.
Step 7: Register your business on Google and Bing.
Both Google and Bing allow you to register your business for free. Doing so allows you to input details about your business so it starts to show up in local search results. Just make sure to use consistent information that matches your website, social media sites, and marketing materials.
Step 8: Apply for your business license and business permits.
To conduct business in Georgia, you will need to have a Georgia business license and various business permits. The types of licenses and permits you require will depend on the type of business you are opening. Without these, you cannot operate your business legally.
Step 9: Register your business for tax purposes.
You will need to obtain an employer identification number for your business for federal tax purposes and to pay taxes for federal withholding, social security, etc. You also need to register for state taxes in Georgia with the Georgia Department of Revenue. Some of the taxes you will need to pay in Georgia are state income taxes, sales taxes, and unemployment insurance taxes.
Step 10: Get business insurance.
You will need different types of business insurance to protect your business venture. The type of coverages you require will vary based on the type of business and whether you need a physical location to operate the business, the number of employees you intend to hire, and so on.
Step 11: Choose a location for your business.
If you will operate your business from a physical location primarily, you will need to find a location. You can choose from strip malls, shopping centers, or standalone commercial properties. You also have to decide if you want to buy the property or look for one you can lease.
Step 12: Open a business bank account.
You will need a business bank account for your new business. You will need to supply various information like your business name, owners, registration details, etc. A business bank account will allow you to apply for small business loans and business credit cards.
Step 13: Set up an accounting system or hire an accountant.
You will need to keep track of inventories, sales, returns, payroll, taxes, and other such financial aspects of owning and operating a business. To make accounting processes easier, you can invest in an accounting system or hire an accountant.
Some businesses do both. They use the accounting system to keep track of financial data and then have their accountant prepare various statements, pay taxes, process payroll, and handle other such financial and accounting functions.
Step 14: Interview and hire employees.
If you plan on hiring employees, you will want to interview and hire them to assist with the grand opening of your new business. Training should also take place before opening. You need to make sure your employees are familiar with your product and services. They also need to know how to collect payments from your customers.
Step 15: Prepare for your grand opening.
You will want to market your business online through social media. If you have your website up and running, promote the grand opening there too. Other marketing materials can be used as well, such as flyers, banners, and so on.
It is a great idea to contact local media outlets like newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations to promote your grand opening. You may even be able to a local radio station to broadcast from your business location or have TV news reporters on hand to celebrate the grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony.
As can be seen, starting a business in Georgia is not that difficult once you know what steps to follow. To help make starting your business easier, you can get assistance with obtaining the various licenses and permits you will need from FastFilings. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to start your online application today!