How do I start a small business in Georgia?
If you have already identified a startup idea then it’s time to start a small business in Georgia. A small business can be a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, partnership, or even a corporation. A small business is different from other businesses in terms of employees or size. If your company has 10 or less than 100 employees then it will be considered a small business. The size of the small business can vary according to industry and size. We have created this guide to provide information pertaining to how to start a startup in Georgia and the requirements like choosing a business name, preparing a business plan, the applicable taxes, and licenses and permits in Georgia among others.
Small Business in Georgia
The Georgia state laws dictate that any company that has less than 500 employees will be considered a small business. Today, the state is home to 1.1 million such businesses and they are considered an important driver of the strong economy existing in Georgia. If you are planning to start a small business in Georgia then the good news is that the state and its cities like Atlanta have a highly conducive business environment that promotes growth and development. There are several startup success stories like Kabbage valued at $1 billion and MailChimp valued at $4 billion. The state provides a platform of opportunity including tax credits, incentives, business resources, and grants among others. Initially, all you need to form a startup and make it operational is new company registration and small business licenses in Georgia.
Why start a small business in Georgia?
If you are wondering how to start a startup in Georgia then it is important to understand what makes the state popular among entrepreneurs. It is home to several Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies like Home Depot, United Parcel Service (UPS), The Coca-Cola Company, Equifax Inc., Delta Air Lines, Inc., Veritiv, and WestRock among others. There are numerous small business opportunities in Georgia and advantages that startups and first time business owners can leverage. Some of the top reasons for starting a new business in this state are:
- Favorable tax climate – When you start a small business in Georgia, one of the top benefits is the favorable business tax climate the state offers. The business tax structure in Georgia is considered quite competitive as well as consistent. As a new business in Georgia, you will not only enjoy low taxes but will also help reduce the financial risk considerably. One of the aspects that you should consider when starting a small business in Georgia is the availability of multiple tax credit and exemption programs, which play a key role in reducing the overall tax burden.
- Special Business Zones – If you are looking for small business opportunities in Georgia then the special business zones is something to consider. These zones have a multitude of benefits right from tax reliefs to business incentives, grants, property tax exemption, and reduction or elimination of duties on imports and exports. You will need small business licenses in Georgia to operate in these zones. The special business zones are:
- Foreign Trade Zones
- Enterprise Zones
- Federal Opportunity Zones
Small business opportunities in Georgia
Georgia is considered as one of the top states for pro-business climate thanks to a robust infrastructure, strong economy and skilled workforce. It has experienced a GDP growth of 7 percent in recent times with contributions from several leading industry sectors like trade, transportation, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and financial services among others. Although you can form a startup in any industry, when starting a small business in Georgia, there are specific industries, ideas, and opportunities that a small business can focus on. Some of the popular small business ideas are:
- Online Business Consultancy – One of the top small business opportunities in Georgia is that of online business consulting services. You can provide full-service solutions right from startup consulting to strategy and planning, marketing services, website design, sales support, and project management among others.
- E-commerce – One of the popular forms of small businesses is e-commerce and you can choose to sell just about anything online. You will need small business licenses in Georgia depending on the type of products or services you are planning to sell.
- Specialty food services – Preparation and delivery of unique high-value food items including ethnic specialties, sea vegetables, and gluten-free diets among others.
- Car rental services: Since Georgia has a strong tourism and corporate economy, you can start a car rental service company. Some of the services you can offer as a part of your starting a small business in Georgia are airport transfers, limousine services, RV Rentals, and special rental services for people with disabilities.
- Franchise business – One of the small business opportunities in Georgia are franchise businesses. You can easily start a low investment of any top brand and take advantage of existing business models while ensuring high revenue generation.
Steps to Start a Small Business in Georgia
The state of Georgia offers the right platform and opportunities to entrepreneurs and small business owners. It is gradually developing into a leading innovation hub for startups. If you are planning to start a small business in Georgia then there are several elements, factors, and aspects to consider. In order to understand how to start a startup in Georgia, let’s take a walk through the various requirements for setting up a small business.
1. Prepare your business plan
There are several small business opportunities in Georgia and to avail such opportunities, you need to have a clear, concise, strategic, and targeted business plan. A good business plan takes into account several elements, internal and external factors and can provide the right path to move ahead. It will help you to determine the objectives and goals for your company. This type of strategic plan may be different according to the type of business, size, industry, primary and secondary activity, location, and target audience. This is the most integral part of starting a small business in Georgia and some of the core areas of such a plan should have the following:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Products and services
- Market analysis including competition
- Organization and Management
- SWOT analysis
- Financial plan
- Operational plan
2. Choose a name for your Georgia business
Every company globally is known by its name and not the owner’s name. The name of a business is its identity offline and online. If you are wondering how to start a startup in Georgia then you need to focus on the naming aspect. Since, a business name plays a key role in the success and failure of the said company, there are some golden rules you need to follow. The rules are:
- Avoid a business name that is hard to pronounce or spell
- Pick a name that will not be a hindrance to future expansion of the company
- Be creative and choose a name that is catchy or innovative
- Start a small business in Georgia with a name that connects to the brand, product, or service
- Always conduct a trademark search especially if you are planning to register a DBA or trade name
- Conduct a search for business name availability with the Georgia SOS
3. Choose a business structure
One of the key elements in starting a small business in Georgia checklist is business structure. Whether you are planning to start a small business or a medium sized company, there are several elements that may affect your business like taxes or risk from competition. Hence, it is crucial to identify the right business structure. The type of structure you choose will take into account various factors like:
- Liability and personal risk
- Taxation structure
- Control over business decision making
- Raising or securing funds
- Registration and annual maintenance costs
- Continuity of existence
- Credibility of the structure
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4. Choose a location
A good business plan will help you determine what you want out of your business, help identify the target audience and competition, and also provide a fair view of the market. All this information will assist you with the search for and choosing the right business location. There are several other factors that will come into play when choosing a location to start a small business in Georgia. The factors include:
- Type of operation like a traditional store or an online business
- Foot traffic like a central business district or a low-traffic area
- Parking and accessibility to your office or store
- Important business resources available near to the chosen location
- Proximity to existing and future competition
- Transportation and logistics especially if you are into sales of products or goods
- Local taxes and zonal regulations
- The industry your business specializes in
The location will also determine the type of small business licenses in Georgia required by your company. Some of the top locations for small businesses in the state include Atlanta, Alpharetta, Vinings, Downtown Dalton, Jefferson, Waycross, Garden City, and Doraville among others.
5. Apply for EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is one of the key requirements if you are planning to start a small business in Georgia. This unique nine-digit number is essential towards identifying your business for tax purposes although it does have other benefits like helping you in opening a business bank account. It is important to note that an EIN number is important but some businesses might not require it at all like sole proprietorship firms. It is also known as the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
6. Know about taxes in Georgia
When you start a small business in Georgia, you may be required to file some form of business taxes. Different types of taxes exist in Georgia and you may be required to file a single tax or multiple taxes. You can determine the types of taxes applicable by starting a small business in Georgia according to the business structure, activity, and location. The different types of taxes in Georgia are:
- Corporate Tax
- Net Worth Tax
- Sales Tax
- Use Tax
- Withholding Tax
- Individual Income Tax
- Excise taxes
7. Get necessary business licenses/permits
The one thing that will ensure you are able to transact in the state is small business licenses in Georgia. The types of licenses and permits required can vary from one state to another and you may have to even apply for local licenses. The business activity and location in Georgia will determine whether you require single or multiple licenses and permits. The licensing requirements to start a small business in Georgia are:
- Business Tax Certificates – A business tax certificate is a type of general local license that is required by all businesses. This type of small business licenses in Georgia are issued by the county or city that your business is located in. It is also known as an occupational tax certificate in certain counties or cities.
- Regulated Occupation and Industry – When you start a small business in Georgia, you may be required to apply for professional and occupational licenses. You will also require licensing based on the industry your business belongs to. These licenses are issued by the Professional Licensing Boards Division.
- Seller’s Permit – One of the important small business licenses in Georgia is the seller’s permit. You will need to apply for this permit only if you are buying or selling tangible goods in the state.
The licensing regulations and requirements can be quite complex and research driven. We, at IncParadise can help you with our “Business License Research Report” service. It is a detailed report containing a list of filing instructions, supporting document requirements and fees for all business licenses and permits in this state.
8. Hire good talents
Hiring the right talent when you start a small business in Georgia can be quite a difficult and challenging process. Of course, there are many ways you can attract the right talent in terms of skills, knowledge, and experience in specific tasks or industries like chef for a restaurant or programmers for the IT industry. Identifying and searching for skilled talent is a key element of starting a small business in Georgia. Here are some tips that will aid you in the process.
- Always ask the right questions
- Pay attention to physical attributes and personality behaviors
- Utilize contractors and freelancers if required
- Throw curveballs with unusual questions to ascertain if candidates are self-aware
- Provide opportunities to candidates to hone their existing skills and acquire new ones
- Offer attractive compensation to the right candidates
- Ensure candidates get a fair idea of the perks of the job opening
- Focus on building a diverse team to ensure growth and creativity
- Streamline your overall hiring process
9. Secure funding for your business
When you are forming a startup, one of the aspects that demands attention is business funding. There are several small business opportunities in Georgia for grants and loans but it is important to first identify which phase of the business do you need the funds for. There are typically 3 main phases and they are:
- Startup phase (registration and marketing)
- Operational phase (conducting business, buying or selling, rents)
- Expansion phase (expanding products or services, changing location)
These costs attached to the above phases are integral to the growth and sustainability of your small business. The cost of each phase will also vary according to specific requirements of each company. If you are wondering how to start a startup in Georgia and secure funds then you can look at the following tips:
- You can self-finance your startup
- Look for Angel Investors
- You can check an alternate source like Crowdfunding
- Your small business can become a part of startup accelerator and incubator programs
- Venture capital financing is also another option
- Apply for small business grants in Georgia
- You can try other forms of funding like equity financing and debt financing
10. Brand your business
It is important to create a strong brand identity before you launch your startup in Georgia. It is important to understand that branding is not just about your company logo and includes everything from marketing materials to style guides, research, website, direct mail, trade shows, and more. There are several small business opportunities in Georgia and resources that will provide meaningful assistance when it comes to branding. A small business brand identity will not automatically reveal itself overnight and a lot of hard work, patience, perseverance will go into the process. Here are some useful tips to help you move forward:
- In-depth research will help in creating a brand identity that will resonate with customers
- Employ a wide variety of brand assets like logo, graphics and photography, typography, style guide, color palettes, and iconography among others
- Make your brand identity stronger with a brand story
- Consider creating a blog for attracting prospective customers
11. Market your business
Marketing is a key element of branding and provides support towards successful implementation of your branding strategies. A key aspect in starting a small business in Georgia is a well researched and detailed marketing plan. In order to create a plan, you can study the various mediums or platforms according to the needs of your small business. Some of the most effective marketing mediums are:
- Small Business Website
- Social media platforms
- Free promotional tools
- Word of mouth
- Startup blog
- Email marketing
- Managing relationships using a CRM
- Digital advertising like PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
- Listings on major internet directories like Bing or Yelp
- Running contests for one-time free product or service
12. Plan to expand your Georgia business
When you start a small business in Georgia, ensure there is an expansion plan in place. It’s a fact that no business remains in the same position or growth stage. When a business starts growing and generating higher revenue, it pays to think expansion. There are several ways you can expand but here are some tips that will help you think in the right direction:
- You can add new offerings like new product or service
- Optimize your existing or current market
- Move into newer markets within the state
- Create a separate niche
- Launch an online or ecommerce website
- Get into a partnership with other businesses
- Acquire a new business if necessary
- Start a franchise for your product or services
Ready to Start Your Small Business in Georgia?
If you are worried about the journey for your startup then you will be happy to know that there are several small business opportunities in Georgia. You can leverage everything from business grants to incentive programs offered by the state but you will need to register your business first. This is where IncParadise can help you. We have a team of experts who can guide you through the process of starting your small business in Georgia.
IncParadise is one of the top Georgia registered agents and has helped hundreds of companies to start their own business in Georgia. We understand that different businesses have different requirements and hence offer many additional services like obtaining EIN, filing annual reports, and foreign qualification among others.