How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Georgia

Want to start a new business in the state of Georgia? You’ve come to the right spot!

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Georgia’s small business tax relief, a low corporate tax rate (6 percent), angel investor tax credits, and financing of up to $250,000 are all attractive benefits for the new business owner. With a moderate year-round climate, “The Peach State” is also the country’s top producer of pecans, peanuts, and vidalia onions. We are told these onions are considered some of the sweetest in the world!

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Georgia

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Fun facts about starting a business in Georgia

Famous business founded in Georgia: Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, was originally intended as a patent medicine when it was invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton. Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coke to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century.

Famous entrepreneur born in Georgia: Asa Griggs Candler

Asa Griggs Candler (1851–1929) was a business tycoon born in Villa Rica, Georgia, who established the The Coca-Cola Company. Asa Candler was among the earliest entrepreneurs to aggressively use advertising. Under Candler’s watch, Coca-Cola’s advertising budget grew from $100,000 in 1901 to $1 million in 1911.

“Every human life is made to fit some place, and there is a place for every life.” – Asa Griggs Candler

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Georgia?

You must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best legal structure. At bizHUMM, we strongly recommend you incorporate.

Here are 5 helpful steps to determine the best legal structure:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Georgia.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company (LLC) is the United States-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners.

Steps to starting an LLC in Georgia:

  • Step 1 — Name your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization and Transmittal Form.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 6 — File Annual Registrations.
  • Step 7 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Georgia.

For help forming your LLC in Georgia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Other Georgia resources for LLCs:

Georgia Corporations Division Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.

Secretary of State Corporations Division: File your “Articles of Organization” here. If you file your Articles of Organization form by mail, you must also file a completed “Transmittal Form – Limited Liability Companies” (available to download on the above link).
File your “Application for Certificate of Authority for Foreign Limited Liability Company” here.
File your “Annual Registration” here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here.

Georgia Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship, also known simply as a proprietorship, is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one person, and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for all of the finances of such business.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Georgia:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File a trade name.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Georgia we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).
Alternatively, you can visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Other Georgia resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Georgia Corporations Division Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name or may use an assumed name or trade name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

The Clerks Authority: If you use a business name that is different from your own name, you must file your trade name with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where your business is located. Run a search here.

Secretary of State Licensing Board: The agency in charge of licensing and regulating most professions in Georgia.
If your profession is not listed at the above link, check with the appropriate Georgia State Agency.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here. If you hire employees, you will need an EIN.

Georgia New Hire Reporting Program: To report new employees.

Georgia Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Partnership
A partnership is a legal form of business operation between two or more individuals who share management and profits. The federal government recognizes several types of partnerships. The two most common are general and limited partnerships. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business and shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Georgia:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File a trade name.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Georgia we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service). Or, visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Other Georgia resources for Partnership:

Georgia Corporations Division Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. You can use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

The Clerks Authority: If you use a business name that is different from your own name, you must file your trade name with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where your business is located. Run a search here.

Secretary of State Licensing Board: The agency in charge of licensing and regulating most professions in Georgia.
If your profession is not listed at the above link, check with the appropriate Georgia State Agency.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership here. You are required to have an EIN, whether or not you hire employees.

Georgia New Hire Reporting Program: To report new employees.

Georgia Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

S Corporation
An S corporation is a regular corporation that has elected "S corporation" tax status. Forming an S corporation lets you enjoy the limited liability of a corporate shareholder, but pay income taxes as if you were a sole proprietor or a partner. In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Georgia:

  • Step 1 — Name your corporation.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Georgia annual registration requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Georgia.

For help forming your S corporation in Georgia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively, visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Other Georgia resources for S Corporation:

Georgia Corporations Division Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Secretary of State Corporations Division: File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Registration here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Georgia New Hire Reporting Program: To report new employees.

Georgia Department of Revenue: For business tax.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp for short), refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately. In a C corporation, there can be an unlimited number of stockholders. This allows the corporation to sell shares to a large amount of investors, which allows for more funds to be raised for projects.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Georgia:

  • Step 1 — Give your corporation a name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Georgia annual registration requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Georgia.

For help forming your C corporation in Georgia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively, you can visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Other Georgia resources for C Corporation:

Georgia Corporations Division Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.

Secretary of State Corporations Division: File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Registration here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

Georgia New Hire Reporting Program: To report new employees.

Georgia Department of Revenue: For business tax.

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Why choose Georgia for my business?

  • 1

    Forbes “Best States for Business” (2015)
    Georgia ranks #11. “Georgia’s once robust economy has slowed in recent years, but the state still maintains a pro-business climate. Big companies headquartered in the state include Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola and Southern Company. Union workers make up only 4.3% of Georgia’s employment base, which is one of the lowest rates in the country. The Tax Foundation's ‘Location Matters’ study rates Georgia's corporate tax climate as the third best in the U.S.”

  • 2

    CNBC America’s Top States for Business (2015)
    Georgia ranks #5.

  • 3

    Georgia Small Business Incentives
    “Small business incentives — from tax relief to loan guarantees — make it easier to launch a new enterprise in Georgia and grow a small company.”

  • 4

    Financial Assistance
    “Georgia is proactive in providing companies with a wide range of grants and loans through specialized public programs. The variability of this financial assistance has helped thousands of companies foster entrepreneurship, innovation and business development.”

  • 5

    Tax Credits for Businesses
    The primary tax credits Georgia extends to new and existing companies.

  • 6

    Entrepreneur and Small Business Development Loan Guarantee Program
    “With Georgia Grown Business Loans, eligible entrepreneurs and small business owners living in rural areas may reap the benefits of their hard work and hometown loyalty. The OneGeorgia Authority and accredited Georgia financial institutions will provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with access to loans ranging from $35,000 up to $250,000 at competitive interest rates.”

  • 7

    University of Georgia Small Business Development Center
    “The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as one of Georgia’s top providers of small business assistance, the SBDC has 17 offices ranging from Rome to Valdosta to serve the needs of Georgia’s business community. Since 1976, our network of partners has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support, and success of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

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