• Setting Up the Business

  • Part 5: Setting Up the Business

    Once you have decided you’re going to go through with your business idea, you need to take steps to set up your business. You should have already given thought in great depth about the underlying goals of your business as well as aspects that you believe are well accounted for and those that need more attention.

    Now, you will begin the start-up process. This may uncover some previously unforeseen variables to consider. Do not rush through this step. Work through everything very meticulously, and do not be afraid to stop and reconsider anything you are unsure about. This will be the foundation for the entire venture to take off and you want to be confident that everything is in order before you move forward.

    To Start Off:

    Select your business name and search the Internet to make sure it’s not being used, especially in the local area.  This is important in order to avoid lawsuits or having to change your name just as your business is gaining traction.

    Register a website domain name.  There are many websites available that help with this process. It is important to try to keep your domain name both easy and memorable.

    • An example of a domain name registrar you can use is linked here.

    Secure social media profiles for the company, if necessary

    • This is a very powerful and free form of marketing. Especially among younger generations, social media presence can attract many valuable customers and help raise brand awareness.

    Begin spreading the word about your business.  You can start by sharing your website, advertising on social media, or developing pre-marketing materials, such as brochures, advertisements, business cards, or letterheads

    Registering Your Business

    When setting up your business, there is a lot of paperwork that you will need to file in order to operate legally.  Firstly, you will need to register the business itself.  Then, you will have to file for permits, register with the IRS for tax purposes,  and open a bank account.  This is not an exhaustive list; based on your business, you will most likely have to take further steps in order to operate.

    Confirm your decision of a legal structure or business structure.  Register your business as a Corporation, LLC, or Sole Proprietorship (you can find more information on this in Part 4).

    Apply for an EIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) with the IRS AND local or state business licenses.  You will need an EIN if you do any of the following:  pay employees, operate as a corporation or partnership, file tax returns for employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, withholds taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien, use a tax-deferred pension plan. The IRS has more information on this as well.

    Evaluate and select needed insurance policies for your business, such as liability, workers comp, or health insurance

    • Click here to find insurance companies in the local area. Reach out to one or more agent to help you decide what insurances are needed for your business.

    File for any necessary permits.  Most small businesses will need certain licenses and permits from both federal and state agencies. Requirements and fees vary based on your business type, location, and local, state, and federal government rules

    • Keep in mind that state-required permits will vary and many times, these are enforced at the local level.  You can find out more information here about licenses in Georgia.

    Here are some key permits to consider:

    • Building permits - The City of Hartwell enforces the Building Permit state adopted Construction and Life Safety Codes. Permits must be obtained prior to making any building changes or alterations, or installing or altering any electrical, plumbing, mechanical or fuel gas systems. You need to have an architect or licensed builder prepare a plan showing all construction changes and additions in order to apply for a permit at the Building Inspections Office.
      • See more information about it here on the Hart County website
    • Sign permits - A permit is required for the creation, placement, display or change of any and all signs, permanent or temporary. Sign permit applications can be obtained at the Ordinance Officer’s Office at City Hall
    • Food-related permits
    • Temporary Event Application
    • State food sales establishment license
    • Fire & safety inspections
      • Contact the Hartwell Fire Chief Office for inspections
    • Historic Preservation Commission Certificate of Appropriateness - Before making any changes to the facade or signage of an existing building located in Hartwell’s historic district, an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness must be filed at the Building Inspections Office for approval by the Historic Preservation Commission.

    Open a business bank account and business credit card

    • Banks (even smaller branches) are very helpful with this process.  This will require the EIN number from registering with the IRS.

    Establish your company’s accounting plan

    • There is a broad range of accounting plans that can be used for your business. Many factors go into this decision such as type of business/product/service, cash or accrual method, number of transactions, collection of revenue (payment terms, cash, credit cards etc.)
    • Accounting can be challenging but it is extremely vital for the success of your business.  It is highly recommended that you learn more about accounting geared towards small businesses. The SBDC offers a class on accounting that would be helpful.

    Determine what software you will use for accounting/bookkeeping.  There is a range of software provided, such as QuickBooks and NetSuite. However, you may wish to use Microsoft Excel which is a powerful aid as far as record keeping. Again, you will need to consider the option that best aligns with your business transactions.