6 Things to Remember When Opening a Small Business in Atlanta

Small business owners are the backbone of the economy. For many people, owning their own business is the fruition of the American dream.

Atlanta is a hotbed of industry and one of the most active business locations in the world. The city is responsible for more than two-thirds of Georgia’s economy and is home to several Fortune 100 companies including Coca-Cola, United Parcel Service, Delta Airlines, and AT&T. The area is a great location for entrepreneurs to come and set up shop. Factors such as the weather, diverse economy, large population, above average household income, and diverse demographics make Atlanta a very attractive city to open your own business.

The greater Atlanta metropolitan area has nearly 6 million people making it the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States. The city has seen a large influx of professional people with good incomes moving to the area within the last five years. The average household income in Atlanta is over $60,000 a year. Read on to see what steps you need to take to open your own small business in Atlanta.

Decide what type of business you want to open

Many people want to own their own business but have no idea what type of business they want to operate. It’s best to operate a business that you’re passionate about. If you’re in it just for the money, chances are you won't be successful.

Figure out how much capital you’ll need to start

It’s the old adage of it takes money to make money. You know you’re going to need money to start your business, but do you know how much? The cost of doing business in Atlanta is different than other places. Most people don’t have the liquidity on hand to finance their business so they have to go to a bank. Consider getting a small business loan but be careful to not mortgage your future away by taking too big of a risk.

Conduct market research

A business that may be successful in Los Angeles may not be successful in Atlanta. You’ll need to find out if the market is flooded with competition, if there is a market for your business in Atlanta and if there is what the best location is.

Atlanta is home to several universities and colleges that can help you gather market research data for your business. Talk to staff members of the university’s business school to find out how they may be able to help you determine the viability of your Atlanta-based business. Atlanta is home to over 30 colleges and universities including:

You’ll also want to visit with people who own and operate the same type of business you’ll be running. They can prove to be invaluable resources and help you navigate through the difficult process of being your own boss.

Write a business plan

This is often the most difficult part of starting your own business. Writing a business plan encompasses every single detail of owning and operating your business. A good business plan can be the difference between getting a loan and being denied by the bank. Banks and other parties want to know how you plan on operating a successful business. A business plan discusses marketing, finances, capital expenses, business practices, and management.

The Small Business Administration has a web site with valuable tools to help you learn how to write a solid business plan. They also have field offices located throughout Atlanta where you can receive business counseling.

Business structure

Is your business going to be a sole proprietorship, corporation, S corporation, or LLC? All of these business structures affect how you report income and how vulnerable you are should your business fail. There are pros and cons to each depending on what type of business you plan on operating. It’s best to consult with an attorney and tax advisor to see which one fits best.

Obtain proper licensing

All Atlanta based businesses are required to have a Business Tax Certificate, also commonly referred to as a business license. The Business Tax Certificate should be obtained via the city’s Business Tax Division located at 55 Trinity Avenue Suite 130.

Depending on what type of business you plan on operating you may need additional permits and licensing from various municipal, state and national organizations.

These licenses and permits cost money so make sure you plan them into your cost of doing business. Not having the proper permits and licenses can lead to severe penalties and even prison time.