Starting an LLC in Georgia is an easy and straightforward process that has become easier than ever before thanks to online filing. This guide below will help provide you with step instructions to get your Georgia LLC started in no time.
What are the benefits of an LLC?
- LLCs provide liability protection for business owners, meaning that the owners’ assets will not be at risk.
- Easy to set up and manage
- One person may form an LLC
When do you need to form an LLC?
If you are exploring starting a business or perhaps you are already in business as a sole proprietor it is a good idea to form an LLC. If you are operating a business without an LLC you could be placing yourself and your personal assets at risk.
While it is not required to form an LLC before starting a business the benefits include accounting and tax standardization, limited liability risk right away, and it will be easier to stay organized since all of your business-related expenses will be tied to one business bank account.
Step 1: Choose your company name
The first step in starting an LLC is to select a business name. It is essential to choose a business name that is unique from existing entities.
Perform a Georgia business name search
The Georgia Secretary of State maintains a database of business entities registered in Georgia that is free for the public to search.
Your Georgia LLC must contain the words Limited Liability Company or include the abbreviation L.L.C. or LLC. Prefixes, suffixes, and plural versions of an existing entity name do not make it unique.
If you want to start an Italian restaurant called “Italian Market LLC” you will want to make sure there is not a similar sounding name like “Italian Marketplace LLC” or else your name be get rejected by the Secretary of State. The intention behind the naming rules is for businesses to create names that are uniquely identifiable from other existing active names so consumers will not get confused.
If you are struggling to come up with a Georgia LLC name one option is to use a business name generator, which can help come up with hundreds of name suggestions in seconds.
Perform a trademark search
If you intend on using your business for a commercial purpose you will want to perform a trademark search before selecting your Florida business name. A trademark will help protect against infringement of unauthorized use of your business name and logo without your permission and can eventually become a valuable asset if your business grows.
Find out if your proposed business name is available by conducting a trademark search online at the US Patent & Trademark Office.
If you want to use the same name as another Georgia or country, check with that jurisdiction to make sure the name is available.
Determine if you want to use a DBA name
A DBA is a registered “Doing Business As” name and can be used instead of the legal LLC business entity name.
A DBA allows you to have a name for your business that reflects what it does or who its customers are. Business owners use their company’s DBA names on checks, orders, contracts, and correspondence when doing business.
Some of the main benefits of a DBA:
- Flexibility: If you have your LLC established, you can use DBA names instead of creating separate entities for each new venture.
- Branding: A DBA name is easier to brand and identify for customers.
- Expansion: It is easy to file DBAs in different geographical locations to target other customers and appear hyper-focused in your marketing.
You do not need to operate under a DBA if you use your Georgia business name for all business purposes. However, using a DBA name will not affect your Georgia LLC name registration.
Register the domain name
Once you decide on a business name, check to make sure that the domain name is available. Sites like Namechk can show you which domain extensions are available for your business name.
Although .com domain names are ideal, as the internet ages extensions like .net, .co, and .biz are becoming more commonplace
Register social media profiles
It is vital to have a solid social media presence in today’s business environment. Be sure to register for your business name on the different social media platforms ahead of time so that no one can sign up for them.
Reserve Georgia business name
If you have your business name picked out but you need additional time to reserve your business name you can file a name reservation form with the Secretary of State. The name reservation will reserve the name for 30 days and it cost $25 to file.
Step 2: Register Georgia LLC
After choosing a name, start the registration process online at the Georgia Secretary of State website.
Registering your LLC in Georgia is a fairly straightforward and quick process:
Select a registered agent
A registered agent is an individual point of contact for Georgia designated to receive official correspondence from the Georgia Secretary of State.
A registered agent is required for a Georgia LLC. If you are not personally going to be your Georgia LLC’s registered agent, find a substitute Georgia resident or company to serve in this role.
Be sure that the registered agent’s address is included in all your business documents and correspondence if you intend to use a different registered office.
What are Georgia registered agent requirements?
A Georgia registered agent:
- must be over the age of 18
- have a physical street address in Georgia
- be available during normal business hours
How to register
Once you choose a registered agent and perform a Georgia business search, the next step is to fill out the Georgia Articles of Organization.
The form can be filled out online and requires the following information:
- Name of corporation
- Email address
The Georgia Secretary of State has done a great job revamping its website to make online filing as easy as possible.
Step 3: Next steps after filing Georgia LLC
Apply for an EIN
The IRS requires each LLC to have its own unique employer identification number. The Internal Revenue Service website can generate a federal tax identification number. An EIN makes it easy to file your business taxes and stay in compliance with the IRS and is similar to a Social Security number for your business.
EIN’s also add credibility to your business and are required for compliance purposes from time to time by companies that have to pay you for goods and services. An EIN is also required to open a business bank account and will help you establish business credit in the event you need to take out a business loan.
Start a business bank account
A business bank account is required for LLCs to start conducting business. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you start a low-risk bank account such as Georgia bank ) to start receiving income and paying any start-up expenses.
After the LLC has been established, your business bank account will be used for payroll, payment of bills, a deposit of earnings from your business, and any other financial transactions your business may have.
Back office tasks such as bookkeeping can also be performed on your start-up bank account to keep start-up costs low.
Apply for a business license and permits
If you are planning on selling goods or services in the Georgia of Georgia you will want to look into whether or not the city or industry requires a particular business license.
The best way to get more information on the different license requirements throughout the state is to visit Georgia.gov.
Prepare an LLC operating agreement
An operating agreement is a contract between the LLC owners that lays out the financial and functional decisions of how a Georgia LLC will be managed by its owners. An operating agreement is needed if there are multiple business owners of a Georgia LLC.
An operating agreement can be as simple or in-depth as desired, but it is important to have one in writing before starting any significant operations within the business.
File annual report
Georgia corporations must file an annual report through the Secretary of State to stay in good standing with the Department of State.
A Georgia annual report is not a financial statement and the main intention behind Annual Reports is to help keep track of active businesses in Georgia and ensure that the state has the most up-to-date contact information for businesses on file with the Corporations Division.
Recommended LLC formation services
- Northwest Registered Agent: Started as a registered agent service but expanded into business formations and offered additional professional services like mail forwarding and virtual business address services.
- ZenBusiness: Another recommended online business formation platform that can help set up an LLC in Arizona. They offer a full suite of services for new business owners, including operating agreements, business websites, domain names, and more.
- Incfile: A top online incorporation service provider in the market that offers various business filing services like LLC formation, Registered Agent, State Filings, and Compliance Filings.
Georgia LLC FAQs
Is Georgia good for small businesses?
Yes, Georgia has consistently rated as one of the best states for small businesses thanks to its booming economy and affordable cost of living.
Why is Georgia a good place to start a small business?
Georgia ranks high for business friendliness and its capital city Atlanta is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country which provides access to a large population of people.
Does Georgia require a business license?
Each business needs to register its corporation with the Georgia Secretary of State but there is not a separate business license that is required for every business. There are additional license requirements in certain industries and cities and you can get additional information on licenses by visiting Georgia.gov.
How do you look up who owns a Georgia business?
The best way to look up who owns a Georgia business is to perform a Georgia business search through the Secretary of State website. They maintain a list of businesses that are registered within the state and it is free for the public to search.
What is a Georgia Certificate of Good standing?
A Georgia certificate of good standing indicates that a business is in good standing with the state and has paid all applicable business fees to perform business within the state. Businesses can get their certificate of good standing by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State website.
How do you terminate a Georgia LLC?
You can dissolve a Georgia LLC by filling out an Articles of Dissolution form and filing it with the Georgia Secretary of State. If you don’t plan on being in business terminating your business is a good idea so you won’t be responsible for biennial business filing fees.
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