To Start a Business in Georgia, follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea
The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Georgia visitors in 2017:
Find the Right Business Idea for You
Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.
Step 2: Plan Your Business
Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?
Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?
People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?
- Our Business Planning Guide helps you analyze your business idea and gets you access to free planning tools.
- Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.
- If you’re a woman in business, find funding, tools and resources with this great new series Women in Business.
Step 3: Form Your Business
Registering your Georgia company as a legal business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:
- Increased credibility
- Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued
For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Georgia for as little as $140.
Form an LLC in Georgia
If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.
Secure Your Domain
We recommend that you check to see if the business name you are planning is available as a web domain. Even if you aren't ready to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
Step 4: Register for Taxes
With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.
You should also be aware of important georgia taxes that may apply to your business:
- If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Georgia Sales Tax.
- If you hire employees, you will need to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
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 referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can protect your business with these two steps:
1. Opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
Step 6: Set Up Accounting
An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.
Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.
Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses
To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
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Step 8: Get Insured
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:
We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Georgia, businesses with three or more employees, excluding officers and LLC members, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.
Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business
Step 9: Define Your Brand
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.
When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Your business name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business. To learn more about creating the best name for your business, read our How to Name a Business guide.
Step 10: Establish a Web Presence
A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’s credibility.
In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:
- Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
- Registering for a local Google profile
Urban League of Greater Atlanta — The Entrepreneurship Center
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
- Business Planning
The Entrepreneurship Center at the Urban League of Greater Atlanta is a program focused on enhancing the knowledge and skill sets of Black and minority entrepreneurs in the Greater Atlanta area. TEC offers two programs: a series of training classes designed to help entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship and a 10-week accelerator program, which takes members through the process of starting a mock business from startup to full-fledged company.
Applicants must be residents of Metro Atlanta and be interested in starting a new business or currently have a business that has been in operation for 2 years or less.
See more business resources in Atlanta
Augusta-Richmond County Small Business Incubator
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
The Augusta-Richmond County Small Business Incubator provides brand new startups and entrepreneurs who have been working in less-than-ideal spaces a coworking space at reduced rental rates. In addition to a coworking space, SBI also offers quarterly meetings with a Small Business Advisory Board, networking opportunities, and seminars.
Augusta-Richmond County Small Business Incubator works with entrepreneurs looking to start service, manufacturing, or R&D businesses in Augusta, Georgia. Candidates must also be able to fund their businesses during the startup phase.
See more business resources in Augusta
Savannah Entrepreneurial Center
Here are the Principle Service Areas:
The Savannah Entrepreneurial Center aims to support business development in Savannah, Georgia through its two programs: the Micro and Small Business Development Program and the Savannah - Owned Business Enterprise (“SBE”) Program. The Micro and Small Business Development Program exists to help entrepreneurs create and develop new businesses while avoiding the pitfalls many entrepreneurs face. The SBE exists to empower minority and women-owned businesses through outreach, certification, and educational training.