What legal entity should my business be?
- There are a multitude of choices for your business entity but the most common are: sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, S Corporation or Limited Liability Company(LLC). Choosing the legal structure for your business usually is a function of liability and tax considerations. Also, as businesses mature, their legal structure may change to accommodate growing complexities. Look at the principles and/or investors for considerations of liability, residency or tax consequences that can influence the choice. Secondly, examine the nature of the business to gauge risks inherit in its operations. Finally, consult with your accountant and legal advisor for input on legal entity choice.
Do I need a lawyer to start a business?
- Even though an attorney is not required, we recommend you consult an attorney, especially if the company you seek to form has more than one owner. Forms and instructions for each type of business entity are available at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
Where do I obtain a business license?
- Business licenses are issued by the municipality or county in which your business is located and fees may vary by location and type of business. For more information, call your local city or county business license office.
Do I need a special license for my business?
- Certain businesses are subject to special permits, licenses and inspections. These include schools, employment agencies, child care centers, securities dealers, motor transport, financial institutions, public entertainment, detective agencies, cosmetologists, heating and air, refrigeration, plumbers and electricians. Information about licensing, permits and inspections can be found through your local licensing or inspection office or through the Secretary of State.
Can the SBDC review my legal paperwork (i.e. leases, contracts, etc.)?
- SBDC consultants do not provide legal advice. We encourage you to establish a relationship with an attorney that specializes in business issues who can review your legal documents.
What is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor?
- If you have care, custody and control over how your “worker” does the job, classify them as an employee. Generally the definition of employee is an individual uses your tools, comes to work on your schedule, and you supervise their efforts. An independent contractor owns his/her own company and offers their services or products to several clients. A freelance floral designer who works overflow for several florists during the year is an independent contractor; the floral designer who only works for you part time is an employee. The IRS
How can I best comply with immigration laws?
- The SBDC strongly advises management to periodically review the laws dealing with immigration and maintain compliance with federal and state laws.
Do I need Workers Compensation Insurance and how do I obtain it?
- Georgia employers with three or more employees are required by law to carry Workers Compensation Insurance. This insurance is regulated by the State but sold by local community insurance agents. A minimum of three quotes is recommended. Owners that work in the business are considered employees but can exempt themselves from workers compensation insurance coverage. For more information, visit the Georgia’s State Board of Workers Compensation website.
What are trademarks and service marks?
- A trademark (for example: Coca-Cola) and a servicemark (for example: UPS) are ways to protect someone else from using the same name as the one you have selected to market a product or service. A trademark/servicemark may be used to prevent others from using a similar mark, though it cannot be used to prevent others from making or selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. A trademark, issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office, lasts for 10 years and can be renewed. For more information and trade and servicemarks, visit the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) website.
What is a patent and how do I obtain one?
- A patent is a document that grants an inventor protection of his or her unique invention or technology for a limited period of time. It excludes others from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the invention. To be patentable, the invention must be new, useful, and non-obvious. Patents are only granted to the inventor but as a property can be: sold, assigned, pledged, mortgaged, licensed, bequeathed, and donated. There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant. As obtaining a patent is expensive, the inventor should first determine if there is a market for the invention and conduct a patent search to determine if there are existing patents that would preclude his invention or that are so similar as to make his invention worthless. If he decides to proceed, the inventor should file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The entire process can take 18-24 months depending on the complexity of the invention.
What is a copyright and how do I obtain one?
- A legal device that provides the owner the right to control how a creative work (either published or unpublished) is used. A copyright is comprised of a number of exclusive rights, including the right to make copies, authorize others to make copies, make derivative works, sell and market the work and perform the work. Any one of these rights can be sold separately through transfers of copyright ownership. For more information, visit the USPTO Copyright Policy page.