A Note From Paige
I hope you're all having a good September thus far. As you relax and prepare for the end-of-the-year rush, consider scheduling an appointment to review or update your estate plan. If you don't have an estate plan, I can go over the process with you and get started drafting a will, a trust, or other estate planning document.
This month, I'm beginning a new series on starting and growing a small business in Georgia. I hope you find it informative and enjoyable. Contact me
if you have any questions or if you'd like to review your business policies.
Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Who, What, and Where: The Building Blocks of a New Business
Small Business Association (SBA) defines a small business
as an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees. Under this definition, there are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States, and more than 50% of the employed population works in a small business.
Starting a business is challenging, but with the right kind of assistance, you can establish yourself and focus on your goals. I have previously covered specific topics for existing business owners and operators, including business succession planning
and creating a secure social media policy
. This month, I’m taking a broad look at some basics you should consider as you prepare to start a new
Choosing a Name
Choosing a name for your business is likely one of the first things you’ll do after you develop a general business plan. Ideally, your business name will give others a clear idea of the products or services you offer and be memorable enough to convert leads into customers.
Simply choosing a name isn’t your only step. Before you have business cards printed or signs made, you need to do some research to determine whether your business name is available. Your attorney
can help you perform searches to determine whether your business name is available in your state.
Choosing an Entity
Once you have your business plan and your name, your next step is to contact an attorney to help you register your business with your county and/or state. Georgia recognizes several types of business entities:
- Sole Proprietorship: In this type of business, your personal and business activities aren’t distinguished. You will need to register with the county as a sole proprietor, but you don’t need to register with the state.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): Unlike a sole proprietorship, an LLC separates your personal and business activities by allowing the members of an LLC to separate their personal assets from the LLC's profits. LLCs combine some benefits of sole proprietorships and corporations.
- Corporation: A corporation does not transfer business debt to the shareholders who own parts of the corporation, and corporations can generate money by selling stock—or ownership interests—in the business.
Choosing the best entity for your business is crucial, and your decision will likely be based on the number of owners involved, your risk of exposure to liability, and taxes. Each type of entity has different registration requirements in order to properly register your business with the state. For this reason, you should discuss your options with an experienced attorney
who can help you choose the appropriate entity and walk you through the registration process.
Choosing a Location
Around 52% of small businesses are home-based, but working out of one’s home isn’t always an option. If your business needs its own space—an office, storefront, warehouse, etc.—you’ll need to consider several things as you search for a new HQ:
- Use of the Space: Will customers visit your business? Does your space need to house machinery or include space for you to make a product? Is your success reliant upon foot traffic or web traffic? The ways you’ll use your space and provide service to your clients will determine where your business should be located.
- Zoning: Zoning ordinances may limit where you can set up shop. An attorney can help you navigate these ordinances to be sure your business is in compliance.
- Commercial Leases: The costs and rules associated with a commercial lease—such as rent, utilities, and the length of the lease—can affect whether a particular space is right for your business. For example, rent may be low, but if the lease makes you responsible for repairs, that can cut into your bottom line. As with zoning, an experienced attorney can go over a commercial lease with you to explain what your obligations would be if you sign on.
Choosing a name for your business, registering with the proper authorities, and deciding whether you need commercial space are just a few of the many considerations that confront new business owners. Resources to help you start and grow a business are everywhere, from the Small Business Administration, to local networking groups, and attorneys and other professionals who can help you achieve your dreams.
I can help you choose the right entity for your business, register your business with the state, and draft agreements so that you are legally protected. Contact me
to get started.