How to Start a Small Business in Georgia

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Starting a small business is a daunting challenge. Georgia attempts to make the process less intimidating by offering a variety of streamlined services and incentives. Georgia's hospitable business climate earned it CNBC's top ranked state for business in 2014. Despite its pro-business enthusiasm, obtain the appropriate Georgia licenses for your business to avoid unwanted surprises.

Obtain an Employer Identification Number

You will need an Employer Identification Number to complete many of subsequent applications necessary to start a business in Georgia. You can use your social security number as your EIN for some businesses, but Georgia requires an EIN for most. You can learn more about EINs and apply for your EIN at no charge on the Internal Revenue Service website.

Georgia Licenses and Permits

Apply for your business license from the city or county where you plan to locate your business. To find out which city or county office processes business license applications in your community, contact your local chamber of commerce.

You can apply online for many professional business licenses that require state licensing. The professions that allow online applications are listed on the Georgia Secretary of State website on the Online Licensure page, along with the online application process.

Georgia Business Taxes

You must register your business for one or more tax account numbers, permits or licenses with the Georgia Department of Revenue. In addition to a Sales and Use Tax Certificate for selling goods or certain services and a Withholding Tax Number for payroll taxes, Georgia DOR requires registration for other types of businesses. Visit the Georgia DOR website for detailed information about the specific tax ID numbers you need for your new business and to apply online. Georgia DOR claims they will send your specific tax account number by email within 15 minutes.

Recruiting Employees

The Georgia Department of Labor offers a variety of services and resources to identify and recruit qualified workers with the skills you require. Contact GDOL to learn more about the specific services and resources it can provide to staff your new business.

Once you hire new employees, GDOL provides online reporting through its Georgia New Hire Reporting Program. By law, you must report all new hires or rehires who live or work in Georgia to GDOL within 10 days of hiring.

Business Incentives

Georgia offers several incentives to encourage entrepreneurs to start small businesses. The Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Loan Guarantee Program provides financing between $35,000 and $250,000 to start ups and small businesses located in rural Georgia counties. Qualified investors can claim Georgia income tax credits of up to $50,000 per year. Georgia also offers a variety of other income tax credits. You can find detailed information about Georgia's business incentives on the Georgia Department of Economic Development website.

Free Personalized Consulting

You can leverage specialized knowledge and experience in areas of business where you lack experience by getting help from the University of Georgia's statewide network of Georgia Small Business Development Centers. Georgia SBDCs offer a wide range of free consulting services in a variety of areas. Visit the Georgia SBDC website to learn how its services can advance your goals and to locate an office close to you.



About the Author

George Boykin started writing in 2009 after retiring from a career in marketing management spanning 35 years, including several years as CMO for two consumer products national advertisers and as VP for an AAAA consumer products advertising agency. Boykin mainly writes about advertising and marketing for SMBs.

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  • Jeremy Woodhouse/Blend Images/Getty Images