starting a business in georgia

A complete step-by-step guide to start your business and get on the fast track to financial success.

Doing Business In Georgia

Business Facts

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.6 percent of Georgia’s businesses and employ 43.2 percent of the state’s workers. That works out to a total of 1 million small business and 1.6 million employees. Perhaps even more impressively, small businesses oversee a sizable chunk of the state’s exports. In 2015, over 88 percent of the companies exporting goods from Georgia were small firms. Together, they generated $35.6 billion in exports — nearly 29 percent of the state’s total. Georgia’s small businesses are spread across a variety of industries. However, their presence is particularly pronounced in industries such as farming and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.

Small Business and Startup Environment

Georgia has 722,089 small businesses, according to the most current federal data available. Of those 722,089 small businesses in Georgia, 198,271 have employees. The remaining 523,818 are Georgia small businesses that have no employees.

Major Companies

Thirteen Georgia-based companies made Forbes’ annual list of the 2,000 largest publicly traded companies in the world. The Coca-Cola Co.,  The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD)

No. 154 United Parcel Service Inc.,  Aflac Inc,  Southern Co., Delta Air Lines Inc., SunTrust Banks Inc., Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.,  Genuine Parts Co. (NYSE: GPC)

No. 1033 IntercontinentalExchange Inc, Newell Rubbermaid Inc., Synovus Financial Corp., AGCO Corp. (NYSE: AGCO)

What many local startups find very attractive is the Visa-free travel for Georgians residents to EU. This policy is a recent occurrence but it makes the connection between Georgian startups and international investors and funds much easier and much cheaper. The kind of exchange of ideas and resources that happens as a result of this international connection is very important to the development of startups. With international feedback, experience, and capital, startups are able to build their projects to be more efficient and better at what they do.

Step 1: Choose A Business Structure

The most common business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and a few different types of corporations—the standard corporation (often called a C corporation or “C corp”), the small business corporation (often called an S corporation or “S corp”), and the benefit corporation (often called a B corporation or “B corp”).

The most common business structures are:

Happens when you operate your business as yourself. There is no separate legal entity created; the law treats you and your business as one person. You are responsible and personally liable for all business activities or wrongdoing.

The same thing as a Sole Proprietorship, but just with 2 or more people. Like a Sole Proprietorship, a Partnership doesn’t create a separate legal entity and the partners are responsible and personally liable for any business activity or wrongdoing.

A more complex legal structure that requires a board of directors, corporate officers, and shareholders. Corporations don’t usually work for most small business owners since they face double taxation. Corporations can be beneficial to companies that are looking to raise capital investment, take the company public, or have large healthcare expenses for their employees. The most common types of companies that form Corporations are high-growth technology and startup companies.

Unlike a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership, a Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (called shareholders). It provides them with personal liability protection.

A legal entity that combines the benefits of a Corporation and a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership.

An LLC in Georgia is a separate legal entity under the law. And like a Corporation, it provides personal liability protection for the owners. If the LLC is sued, the owner’s personal assets – like their home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected. And like a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership, an LLC has pass-through taxation (so there’s no double taxation).

A Georgia LLC is the most popular option and a good choice for people who want to run a small business for two reasons:

  • Personal liability protection (personal assets are kept safe)
  • No double taxation

Unlike a Sole Proprietorship (and a Partnership), your Georgia LLC’s assets are separate and distinct from your personal assets. In the event your LLC gets sued, your personal assets are protected.

And unlike a Corporation, your LLC is not subject to double taxation. Instead, your LLC’s profits will “pass-through” to your personal tax return and federal taxes are paid just once.

Step 2: Choose The Right Business Name

Choosing a business name is important, you want to make it easier for your customers to remember it, here are some tips:

  1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
  2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
  3. Conduct a thorough Internet search.
  4. Search and purchase a domain name.
  5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
  6. Conduct a trademark search.

Step 3: Register Your Business

Depending on the business structure you chose you will need to register your business.

For Georgia DBA (Doing Business As) go to:

For Corporations go to:

Georgia department of corporations

For LLC’s go to:

Step 4: Obtain an EIN Tax Number

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.

Click Here to Apply for EIN number online

Step 5: Open A Bank Account

– Open 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.

– Get 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: Licenses & Permits

Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).

Here are some links for Georgia Businesses:

Selling products? Check Georgia Resale Permit

Business Licensing for the State of Georgia

Step 7: Branding & Marketing

Your brand is the image customers have of your business, so it’s important to determine who is your audience and what is the message that you want to project. That way, your company’s image will be what you intend it to be. It should be strategic and intentional.

Step 8: Establish a Web Presence

Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms. A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online: