Thanks to a large population and healthy consumer market, Georgia is ranked as one of the top 10 states to start a business. Its vibrant ecosystem includes an estimated over 1.1 million small businesses, making small business owners a considerable part of the Peach State’s economic growth and success.
The foundations are all there—a favorable tax environment, access to capital and a plethora of support services make Georgia a viable climate for new entrepreneurs. But if you’re thinking of bringing your business idea to the Peach State, there are some things that you should take into consideration.
In this article, we'll explore the process of starting a business in Georgia—from finding a name and getting it registered, to securing funding and more.
Need to create a business website? Start building yours today.
Start a business in Georgia in 7 steps
01. Come up with a business idea
When it comes to starting a business in Georgia, coming up with a potentially successful business idea should be top of your list. To hit on the right idea, start by conducting market research and assessing the needs of your target audience. You should also factor in your own expertise and skills, as well as the resources you already have access to.
For example, below are some ideas that might be worth exploring in light of Georgia’s population, culture and diverse economy:
Food and beverage: Whether you plan to tap into Georgia’s reputation for great southern cuisine or bring a dose of your own foodie culture to the Peach State, starting a food truck, restaurant or starting a catering business could be a great business idea.
Online education: If you’re a teacher or someone with experience tutoring, taking these services online can be a clever way to start a new business in Georgia. Demand for online education services has soared in recent years, and you can eventually grow to market your business on a global scale.
Film and TV production: Or anything related to these media industries, for that matter. In recent years Georgia has served as a popular hub for TV and film production, so it could be just the right place for a budding producer to get started with their own company.
Health and wellness: Businesses that promote healthy, sustainable lifestyles are popular everywhere these days. Profitable ideas in this industry run the gamut from fitness classes and nutritional counseling, to starting a gym business or spa services.
Delivery services: With the growth in online businesses and eCommerce in recent years, comes a subsequent rise in demand for home delivery services. Whether it's food or parcel delivery, it’s a low cost small business idea to consider (and can expand to things like starting a box truck business).
Looking for more business ideas to start in Georgia?
02. Choose a business type
As with any state, there are a number of types of businesses that can be established in Georgia. When building your business entity and considering your options, think about the interests, expertise and resources you already have to make your business a success. It’s also important to think strategically about your timeline. Many times, the type of business you start will depend on how important it is that it will become profitable and grow fast.
Some examples of types of businesses to start include:
Social media consulting
This would involve helping business, brands and organizations in Georgia develop and execute successful strategies for their social media platforms. It can also be an opportunity to evolve to an agency, managing social media accounts for other brands and companies yourself.
There are many opportunities to start a business that operates almost entirely online, and these days, we’ve got the right resources and strategies in place to do it. From selling products with an eCommerce platform, to offering specialized consultancy services and customer support—the online potential is nearly endless.
Service based businesses
These types of businesses are popular low entry starter ideas, because they don’t require the investment of extensive resources or staff. Well known examples include starting a catering business, starting an interior design business or starting a dog walking business.
Demand for online shopping has seen online stores rise in popularity. This is a type of business that you can even start from home—in essence, all you need to begin is an online platform, a supplier and shipping services. New business models like dropshipping or print on demand make it even easier to manage eCommerce, since you don’t have to store or manage inventory on your own.
Regardless of which types of business you choose, make sure you carefully consider the cost and resources required to start your venture. You’ll also need to choose what type of business structure you’ll use—since it will practically influence future operations, like taxes and accounting.
The most popular types of business structures in Georgia include:
03. Name your Georgia business
Choosing the right business name is an essential step in creating a business that will grow, regardless of your precise location. A good business name impacts how customers relate to your brand—it should be memorable and accurately represent your mission, values and characteristics. With thorough research and creative thinking, you can come up with a unique and fitting name that will stay with your business forever.
Start generating ideas with a list of words or phrases related to your brand, and from there craft a name that’s catchy, relevant and not-too-complex. Before you start registering your business name and building your brand around it, it’s also important to ensure the name isn’t used by anyone else in Georgia. At this point, it’s also a good idea to check that there’s a relevant domain name for your business website.
Tip: Use a business name generator tool to get inspiration and ideas for the perfect business name. As a sneak peek, here are a few business name ideas made with this tool: Georgia Peach Co., Athens Yoga, Augusta Event Planning.
04. Write a business plan
A comprehensive business plan defines your goals and outlines the strategies for achieving them—it's a must-have when it comes to starting your new venture in Georgia. Focusing on the core of your mission, resources, and goals, your business plan should set out clear objectives.
Your business plan should include, among other things, an executive summary, concept statement, market research and competitive analysis. It should also include your business triage, taking into account challenges and risks, and helping you determine realistic financial projections or opportunities early on.
05. Register your business in Georgia
Each state has specific requirements for registering a business, so let’s dive into what it takes to make your business official in Georgia. Like any business, you’ll need to consider registering and trademarking your business name, as well as potentially having to file Articles of Incorporation. When relevant, small businesses should also register with their specific State Department of Revenue, as is secure the right business insurance for your niche.
Different types of businesses and industries may have different requirements, so it’s important to seek legal and professional advice. With this in mind, here are a few steps to registering your business in Georgia:
Decide on your business structure, which will also double as its legal structure. The structure you choose—from a partnership to an LLC—will determine how you register and license your business.
Register your business name with the Georgia Secretary of State.
Apply for and secure your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Your EIN is a unique number that identifies your business, and is essential for tax purposes.
Depending on your business type, be sure to obtain the necessary licensing and permits. In Georgia, for example, businesses that sell food, alcohol or tobacco have to apply for specific licenses from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Register for state taxes, again with the Georgia Department of Revenue. This will then grant you your sales tax permit, if you require one.
You may also need to register your business with your local county or city in order to secure necessary additional permits, or to pay local taxes.
Acquire the necessary business and corporate insurance, this can include worker’s compensation insurance and commercial liability insurance.
For more information on registering a new business in Georgia, please refer to this government source.
06. Secure business funding
Funding a business is a crucial step in starting towards succeeding as a small business owner in Georgia. It’s always important to understand the types of funding available in your state and which will be the best in your own circumstances. Some popular ways to fund a new business in Georgia include:
Personal savings: A large number of small businesses and home based businesses are started with personal funds, whether they are personal savings or borrowed from a spouse or close family member. Funding a business in this way means you avoid handing over a percentage of your business in return for investment, but it can be a large risk for some entrepreneurs to take.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans: A small business loan can provide funding for a variety of business needs. These are nationally available loans designed specifically for small businesses. More information about the loans available to small business owners in Georgia can be found here.
Angel investors: These are essentially individuals with the funds to invest in companies, in exchange for an ownership stake. While not easy to find, it can be a way to secure significant capital for a new venture.
Venture capital: Venture capitalists are similar to angel investors in that they offer funds in exchange for an agreed ownership stake in a new business. They tend to invest in startups, or businesses of a similar nature.
07. Create a business website
When it comes to marketing and promoting your business, you’ll need a business website. A well-designed website will allow you to reach new customers, generate potential leads and build your brand.
There are many factors to consider when creating a website—from your design and navigation, to user experience and the infrastructure your site is built on. Reliable hosting and high standards of online website security are an essential part of any business website.
Business examples in Georgia
We’ve put together some examples of small businesses in Georgia, all of whom are using Wix websites to promote their brand.
The Rum Punch Brunch
Rum Punch Brunch is a great example of the type of business that can be started in Georgia. We love the concept, because it's a local business that brings together a large range of locals in Atlanta for a weekly brunch experience. Held every Sunday, their event brings together some of the state’s best food trucks and DJ’s for a truly unforgettable event—building community and supporting other small businesses along the way.
This is a great example of a unique concept for a restaurant business in Georgia. On top of offering a variety of unique dishes and locally crafted beer, Moodrights also draws in customers by organizing events like free bowling and Bingo night. Food, drink and “good times” are all items on Moodrights menu—and from the look of their social media accounts, they’ve found the right strategy for connecting with locals in their area.
How to start a business in Georgia review
Looking to start a business in another state? Check out how to start a business in Ohio, or 7 steps to starting a business in Florida, how to start a business in Virginia or how to start a business in Arizona.
How to start a business in Georgia FAQ
How much does it cost to start a business in Georgia?
To file articles of incorporation to start an LLC, the cost is US$100 online, or U$110 if filing by mail or in person. This must be paid before you can go about setting up your business in the state. After this there will be multiple costs involved with starting a business, including further licenses, insurance, resources and equipment, hiring costs, marketing budget and so on.
Is Georgia a good state to start a business in?
Georgia offers several advantages that make it an appealing location to start a business. First it has a vibrant and diverse economy with a strong business-friendly climate. The state provides incentives, resources, and low taxes to encourage entrepreneurship and business growth. Georgia's strategic location in the southeastern United States provides access to major markets along the East Coast. It's well-connected with transportation infrastructure, including highways, ports, and an international airport. Before starting a business in any state make sure to full research your chances of profitability and create a comprehensive business plan.
What licenses are needed to start a business in Georgia?
The specific licenses you need to start a business in Georgia will depend on the type of business you are starting and the location of your business. However, some common licenses that businesses need in Georgia include:
Business license: A business license is required for most businesses in Georgia. The cost of a business license varies depending on the type of business and the location of the business.
Sales tax permit: If you sell taxable goods or services, you will need to obtain a sales tax permit. The cost of a sales tax permit is $50.
Occupational license: Some businesses, such as restaurants and barbershops, require an occupational license. The cost of an occupational license varies depending on the type of business.
Zoning permit: If your business is located in a zoned area, you may need to obtain a zoning permit. The cost of a zoning permit varies depending on the location of the business.
It's important to note that this isn't an exhaustive list of the licenses that may be required to start a business in Georgia. You should contact your local city or county government to find out the specific licenses that are required for your business.