So, you have this great idea and want to start your own business here in Georgia? You might want to consider setting up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).
For a complete listing of corporation types, you can view them on the IRS’s website. Limited liability companies provide the most flexible way of doing business. With an LLC, you get both the informality and tax benefits of a partnership, plus personal protection from business debts provided to corporations.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not an attorney or tax advisor. You may want to consult with an attorney both before setting up your own LLC, and you definitely want to speak with your accountant to understand the tax implications and filing requirements.
The steps, though, are pretty simple to create your own LLC here in Georgia.
Step One A: Secure your Company Name with the State. Potential company names should to be checked for availability by searching the Secretary of State’s Corporations Division business name database.
Be thorough with your initial search. You may be denied if there is another name that is similar to the one that you want. The name reservation fee is $25. Once you have secured your name, you then have 30 days to complete the registration with the State.
Step One B: Check the availability of Your Domain Name. You really should do these first two steps in conjunction with one another. Don’t purchase the domain name for your website until you have secured the desired Company Name. Similarly, if you were able to get the Company Name that you wanted, but can’t secure the domain name you want, you might want to rethink the Company Name choice.
Step Two: Create an Articles of Organization document for the State and Complete a Transmittal Information Form. Once you have your name secured, you need to complete your Articles of Organization with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division Corporations. The articles must include the LLC’s name and, the names and addresses of the LLC’s managers (that would be you). You need to use a real address, not a USPS or UPS post box.
Step Three: A completed Transmittal Information Georgia Limited Liability form must be filed with the articles. The form must include: the LLC’s name and address (again not a post box address); the name and address of the person filing the articles; all the organizers’ names and addresses; and the LLC’s registered agent’s name and address. The filing fee is $100. The articles and transmittal form must be filed by mail. Don’t forget that you will also have to renew your LLC each year. The cost to renew is $50, and you can do it online.
Step Four: Prepare an Operating Agreement (not required). An LLC operating agreement is not required in Georgia, but is advisable. An operating agreement will help you guard your limited liability status, head off financial and management misunderstandings, and make sure your business is governed by your own rules — not default rules created by your state.
Step Five: Apply for your EIN. You will need a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business. There is no filing fee with the IRS. DO NOT use any other link than the official IRS link. To make sure, type in “www.irs.gov” in your browser and then find the application link within their site. There are MANY phishing sites out there that would love to have your personal information.
Step Six: Business Licenses. Depending on the type of business you operate and where it is located, your LLC may need to obtain other local and state business licenses. Call your County to make sure that you are in compliance.
These instructions and much more information can be found on the GA Secretary of State’s site: