Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is one of the first steps you should take as a prospective business owner. It will help you to craft your game plan, hone your product, understand your customer base, and guide your decision-making to set up your business for success.

Plan a Business

Every business owner must choose a legal structure for their business to operate, register, and pay taxes within. The legal structure you choose should suit the type of services or products you will provide. Consider your options to find the best fit for your business.

Permitting

You’ve found a great building for your business, and now you want to make it your own. Find out if you need a building permit and if there are any accessibility upgrades necessary to become ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

Choose a Location

Do your research to find a great location for your business. Consider factors like demographics, lease terms, and whether your business is allowed by local zoning and building regulations before you sign on the dotted line.

Finance Your Business

Whether you’re looking for startup capital or considering a loan to finance the expansion of your business, a variety of opportunities are available through various lenders and programs.

Hiring and Managing

Hiring the right people is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Be sure to take advantage of local resources to help you on your way, and make sure you know your responsibilities as an employer.

Register Your Business

Registering your business is a key part of getting it up and running. All companies doing business in the City of Atlanta need to register with the city and depending on how your business is set up, you may also need to register with the county, state, or federal government. You can find the information you need to navigate the steps below.

Find a Location and Permits

Visit the Atlanta Permitting Portal to determine if a location is zoned for your type of business, see which permits you need, and what they cost. Get started!

Startup Guide

Answer a few questions about the business you are looking to open and receive a step-by-step registration checklist to complete the applications necessary to register your business. You’re only steps away from becoming compliant. Get started!

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Most businesses must register with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Think of it as a social security number for your business. If you plan to hire employees, you will need to complete this step in order to pay payroll taxes. Most business owners find an EIN helpful for other business purposes, such as opening a bank account. You can apply for an EIN online for free.

Incorporate your Business Entity

If you choose to structure your business as a Partnership, Corporation, or Limited Liability Company, you will need to incorporate your business entity with the Georgia Secretary of State. Visit their website to make sure your business name is available and get tips on filing

Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

If you’ve chosen a business name that is different from your first and last name (for instance, if your business is called “Jane’s Grocery” instead of “Jane Doe Inc.”), you will first need to make sure that no one else is using that name. Check to see if the name is still available, and then be sure to register the name to yourself so someone else doesn’t take it. This helps to avoid confusion from having a lot of businesses with the same name and will protect your business by ensuring that no one starts doing business using your business name.

Reserve your business name here.

Register for State and Local Taxes

All companies doing business within the City of Atlanta must register their business with the City and the State – Georgia Tax Center.

Rising costs, wage increases, and regulatory changes can all impact your business, but there are ways to navigate these waters and maintain a successful business.

Determine Your Expenses

To build your business preparedness, analyze the existing financial condition of your company by calculating your revenues and profits along with your expenses. This process will help you determine your cash flow and understand how to structure your costs, such as wages, supplies, rent, and other expenses. An accountant can be helpful in this regard; it also helps to gain bookkeeping skills or have a trusted bookkeeper to ensure that you are accurately recording your financial transactions, including purchases, sales, receipts, and payments.

Understand your inventory

To remain competitive, small businesses constantly have to find new ways to offer high-quality goods at a price point that is affordable to their customers. It helps to have a strong point-of-sale (POS) system or other reliable method to track your inventory, so you have a good sense of how much product you have and how often you need to order your products and supplies so that you can minimize your waste. If your financial assessment shows that the current cost of your supplies is too high to be profitable, consider exploring other vendors or work with your current vendor to renegotiate your agreement.

You can also use your point-of-sale or inventory system to understand what is selling well and what isn’t selling well and adjust your business model accordingly. Talking with your peers and customers, staying up to date on current trends, and attending trade shows are all good ways to understand if there are new products or services that you can offer to your customers that will help to grow your business, or if there are current products that you offer that are no longer relevant or popular. Having the ability to anticipate and adapt to the changing needs of your customer is a great way to make your business stronger.

Assess your prices

After you’ve determined your expenses, you’ll need to make sure that you can continue to turn a profit to stay in business. If your prices are not covering your costs, you may try to identify ways to reduce your supply and operational costs, or you may consider raising your prices. You’ll want to research what other businesses are charging for similar goods and services so that you remain competitive, or consider ways that you can change or rebrand your business and products or services to support a price increase.

Identify operational efficiencies

In addition to supplies and prices, you can also look at your business operations to find ways to decrease your costs. For instance, if you find yourself driving to the post office several times a day to mail packages, you might try different methods to bundle your deliveries or see if there are services that can do the deliveries for you to reduce your driving time and mailing costs. Or if you have very labor intensive or manual processes, you may consider new software or technology that can automate some of those tasks, freeing up time that can be put towards other parts of your business. Review all aspects of your operations and think creatively about whether there are ways to increase your business’ efficiency and productivity. If needed, a business process consultant may be able to find ways to decrease your operational costs.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Don’t miss any deadlines; mark important dates on your calendar so you can prepare for them in advance. Find due dates and links for additional information for important license renewals, tax statements, and reporting forms below.
  • License expires – December 31
  • Renewal deadline – February 15
  • Payment deadline – April 1

Government Contracts

Government contracts represent a tremendous opportunity for small businesses. Federal, state and local governments procure all type of products and services, which create many opportunities for businesses of all sizes and industries.

The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Contract Compliance (OCC) administers the City of Atlanta’s procurement process for the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Watershed Management and General Fund Departments. OCC links small, minority, female and disadvantaged businesses with opportunities in the City and promotes equal participation in the procurement process.

Resources

The first step in doing business with the City of Atlanta is obtaining a Supplier ID (vendor) number. Click Supplier ID to apply for your free number. To apply for a City of Atlanta certification status complete the application below that corresponds with your business:

Please visit the OCC website for more information on doing business with the City of Atlanta.

To apply for the DBE/ACBE certification please visit the GA Department of Transportation.

Other local contracting opportunities
Contracting opportunities with the Federal government – U.S. Small Business Association Contracting
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