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Establish- Entrepreneurial Advice, Programs and Resources
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"Yup, it's true- I'm starting a new business in this economy!"

1. Create Your Business Name

You know the saying, "The name says it all."
When choosing your business name should always be creative. You must differentiate yourself (or at least try) from every other business.

Other considerations:

Do any other businesses already have that name?
Is your chosen name a good fit with whatever your business will be doing?

Make sure the name you choose is available through the state. 
Do a Quick Check of the Availability of Your Name (here) 

2. Trademark

Test your new name on an online search. See if anyone else out there has the exact same.

Check the availability of your potential trademark check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, file at your earliest convenience.
3. Logo

Start you logo by purchasing a graphics program and then "building" colors, lines and segments the way you see fit. Otherwise, it may be best to outsource the creation of your logo. Many firms/ graphic artists are able to provide this service at a somewhat nominal cost.
Example: Logo My Way

4. Find a domain name, purchase it and start a website
If available, you can register your new business name in-whole or in any part you desire. Your future website address will look something like this: mynewwebsite.com. You can also subscribe to make an accompanying email which would include your company name. Sometimes there is a nominal cost. Your new email will look something like this: you @mynewbusinessname.com.

Your website is your customer's first impression. Many web hosting companies are also able to give you site templates, which may include shopping carts, counters, etc. As you grow, it would be suggested to hire a professional. Many web developers have tools, advice, and experience you may not.

5. Can you explain to others why your particular business is different or stronger than others?

Your Business Plan is your map to success. Planning is essential. Your Business Plan will be used by your accountant, lenders and the like as you establish and manage your new business.
. What is the specific service you will be providing?
. What is your expertise with this particular service/ how will you fit into your own business?
. How extensive is your research?
. Where will you find customers?
. Who will help you with the business?
. How will you stay in business for the next 2, 5, 10 years? 

Video: How to Write a Business Plan
Get a little help with a Business Plan Example
6. Incorporation, LLC, etc.

All Georgia corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships are formed by filing with the state's Corporations Division. The Division serves as custodian of the filings and provides copies and/or certifications of the documents.
. If you are ready to incorporate, it may be time to hire an attorney and/or use an online service.
. Read the Filing Procedures from the Secretary of State and download the Articles of Organization as requested from the site (follow the sample). Mail or transmit with appropriate registration and filing fees.
. Make one last check with the State Commission office to see if your name is still available.
. Within a few weeks you will receive your Certificate of Organization

7. You will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN number is also known as a Federal Tax ID number. It is used for purposes of filing tax and other reporting purposes. Every business needs an EIN number. 

8. Calculate Your Labor Cost

1. Calculate and total all wages within the company.
2. Analyze any other monies used for your employees: matching portions of retirement plans, etc.
3. What are the health insurance costs per employee, including long and short-term disability.
4. What is the total amount you pay per employee in workers compensation premiums?
5. What is the company's contribution to employee taxes: federal, state, FICA?
6. What are the costs associated with hiring an employee: advertising, employment services, etc.

= LABOR RATE (per employee)

9. Business License/ Zoning & Building Permits
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Verify your business meets zoning requirements. 
View Norcross Zoning .

Determine if you will also need a state license or additional licensing.
Professional Licensing Boards Division

Ready to remodel or expand your building? Before making any changes you will need a Building Permit, and we already have a page for that (future link).

Obtain a Fire Plan Review
All businesses making application for a business license will also need to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the Gwinnett County Fire Department (Office of the Fire Marshall) 678-518-6100.
Also review procedures (here).
Obtain a U.S. Citizen/ Qualified Alien Affidavit

You will need to file: Georgia Department of Revenue Sales and Use Reporting.
Anyone who performs any business, occupation or profession is subject to an occupation tax or regulatory fee.

10. Check your Budget- OFTEN

Your first operating budget is of course based on your current expenses. Update often in order to be most accurate.
Pay attention to your operating expenses as a percentage of your gross revenue. The lower the number.......the leaner your company is performing. This is good.
Target your percentage to be below 30%.

How to Build and Use a Business Budget

11. Start your business/ bank account

Don't not use a personal account for business activities. A separate accounting system is much better and easier when reporting to the government or giving records to your accountant. Have ready when you open an account: 

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • New EIN Number
  • Personal Identification

12. Determine your North American Industry Classification (NAICS) Number
An NAICS number determines your small business classification (your business type). The first two digits usually designate your business "sector"; the third digit: the "subsection"; the fourth": the industry group; the fifth: the NAICS industry and the last digit designates the national "industries".-1- Georgia defines a small business as one which is independently owned and operated and must have fewer than 300 employees... Size standards have been established under the NAICS classification system. Check what you need to know at: census.gov or sba.gov.

13. If you didn't already have it in mind.... It is time to shop for the perfect business site!
Again, the Economic Development Department can assist with this.
Location* location*location can make all difference in a successful business. One tool this site provides is a list of locally active commercial sites. This is not a comprehensive list, but will include many locations you and your real estate Broker may be touring. A link is provided (here), soon.

Need a real estate Broker? Sometimes the best source would be other entrepreneurs, like yourself. Many real estate websites such as realtor.com and loopnet.com/georgia/norcross-commercial-real-estate-brokers may also be able to help.

Have you looked at everything and still can't find that perfect site? Please call or have your Broker call our Economic Development Department. Sometimes we know of properties not yet on the market.

14. A "Press Release" would be a great next-step.
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Consider a press release as free advertising. Use a Press Release to announce a move, your "new" business, a promotion, etc.
Suggestions for your press release:




Sample Press Release

15. Don't forget Business Insurance
Business insurance is a necessity... Shop around for policies and Brokers to help you with your insurance needs. Although requirements vary, standard coverage may include:

Business Interruption: Provides for ongoing expenses should a situation arise to halt your business
Automobile Liability
Errors and Omissions
Property Insurance: Protects your building, supplies and inventory
Crime Insurance: Embezzlement, theft, robberies, etc.
Workers Compensation
General Business Liability: In case your employees cause harm to a customer.

16. Let's do payroll.....

Corporation tax rates are different and sometimes difficult. It is therefore recommended to immediately set up full payroll procedures. It is also recommended to hire an outside payroll company- a payroll servicer proficient with all mandatory federal and state withholdings and reporting.

Always consult a professional on these matters.

17. Let's get invoicing procedures down so you can have money coming in.

Try this site.
18. Now comes health insurance & health insurance mandates

Although the future of company responsibility vs. health insurance is still not clear, a health insurance package for your employees, today, will be approximately $500-$1,800 per employee, per month, depending on premium expenses.
Comprehensive dental?: $50-$90 per employee, per month.

Always consult a professional on these matters.

19. Even if you are a business of "one"... Establish 401K/ 529 and IRA benefits
Discuss retirement options with a specialized financial services company. Fringe benefits and tax advantages for you and your future employees are an excellent way to retain and acquire employees.

20. Human Resources
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So many rules and regulations for this department! Important and sometimes costly ones. Start thinking about your human resources options and begin researching potential outsourcing services.
Advisement: For every employee hired, your HR requirements increase exponentially.

21. Create an Employee Hiring Package
After a candidate accepts an offer of employment, you will need to send them an offer letter. The Offer Letter is a legally enforceable contract.

After acceptance of your offer of employment, and prior to starting work, there are several things you will need for each employee:
1. Employee Handbook- Book that explains company policies and procedures. Make sure one of the pages is a "Receipt of Handbook" the employee will sign.
2. Form I9 This is verification of legality(A drivers license is not enough).
3. Direct Deposit Form and state income tax withholding exemption certificate- This goes to your payroll provider.
4. Form W4 (Federal Payroll Withholding) This goes to your payroll provider.

Need Help?
Georgia Quick Start Program- FREE HELP- Quick Start delivers training in classrooms, mobile labs or directly on the plant floor, wherever it works best for a company.

Startup suggestions-  How to, by James Dyson- Video 

Small Business Start-Up Basics- from the University of Georgia