STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business NameThe first step is verifying that the brand name you want isn’t already taken, too similar to an already registered entity, or contains restricted wording. Make sure to conduct a Business Entity Search through the state, and if trademark issues might be possible, use the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office to check.

The name shouldn’t exceed 80 characters, counting spaces and punctuation. Also, it must end with: ‘Corporation’, ‘Company’, ‘Incorporated’, or ‘Limited’ or any appropriate abbreviations. If needed, file a Name Reservation Request to have it set aside for your business for 30 days.

Filing Fee: $25

STEP 2) CHOOSE A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A Georgia Registered Agent is either an individual or registered corporate entity that receives and helps handle/process all official documentation on behalf of your company like legal notifications, tax forms, state filings, etc. It’s very important so you’ll want this agent to be timely and responsible.

The agent should have a Georgia street address, not P.O. Box, and they should officially accept the position. That being said, you can hire an outside service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you incorporate with IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCOnce you have a registered agent, when you and your directors are ready, to make the brand official you must file a Certificate of Incorporation form with the state. It’s a declarative statement of for the public record of the basics of your brand including:

  • Corporate name, address and Statement of Purpose,
  • Name and address of the Registered Agent,
  • Name and address of each incorporator,
  • The number of shares allowable for issuance, and so on.

Filing fee: $100

STEP 4) GET A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Think of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.

You can find them at nearby office supply stores or on Amazon, but we’re huge fans of Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 5) ELECT DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Appoint at least 1 director who among other things will oversee the Georgia corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:

  • Appoint officers & discuss/create Corporate Bylaws.
  • Choose a bank & approve the issuance of stock certificates.
  • Agree on corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form.
  • Approve s-corp (opt.). Record Minutes of Meeting, have directors sign, then add to records book.

STEP 6) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Ideally this subject was heavily discussed in your initial meeting. And listen, if it needs to be tackled for a little bit that’s fine because where you choose to set up your corporation’s financial foundations is critical.

Fees and interest rates matter. Overall business services, location and availability matters. There are local, state, and national banks as well as non-profit credit unions and online-only banks to consider. Once chosen, ensure the accounts have strict access control and aren’t mixed with accounts of any other kind for tidy numbers-keeping.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesTo ensure that you will not face penalties, fines, and fees when operating a business, you need to completely fulfill your Georgia business taxes and licenses obligations to the state. Some good moves to make here include:

  1. Quickly get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, for free through the IRS Website.
  2. Bookmark the Atlanta Small Business Admin office and the Dept. of Corp’s Business Services.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider a reliable business license research service that take care of the legwork for you.

OPTIONAL) CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanRight out the gate most corporations are in desperate need of two important things: funding and strategic partnerships. Well, whether you approach a serious potential stakeholder, VC, investor or lending institution, nothing happens until you show them your business plans first.

Thing is, most people who start corporations aren’t experts at business planing. Thankfully these days there’s a variety of savvy software options that streamline the process and at the end you get presentation-ready plans. To learn more check out the our free resources below.

  • Our free Business Plan Guide is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.
  • Our guide to Business Planning Software breaks down the best user-friendly solutions to help you strategize better. (Spoiler: We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

If there’s already a web designer/developer on your team and your company site is already published, then fabulous. However, for those of you who have done everything above, so much work, but don’t have one…well, we understand it can be daunting. Should you outsource? Yes, probably.

That is unless you have someone that understands the big website-builder platforms like Wix or Weebly. These days you don’t necessarily need to spend as much or hire a full-time developer to get a basic, responsive agency-style site published.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form a corporation in Georgia isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a corporation in Georgia or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.