Updated November 16, 2020:

Wondering how to start a restaurant business in Georgia? If you want to open a restaurant in one of Georgia's cities, you'll need to complete a few important steps, including creating a business plan, obtaining all the necessary licenses, and registering for taxes.

Step 1: Create a Business Idea

Before jumping into things like registration and marketing, it is important to come up with a good business idea. Consider your interests, skills, and abilities when you create your idea. This will ensure that you are well-prepared and dedicated to the business and its success.

Step 2: Plan the Business

Every business requires careful planning. Before investing in and opening the business, you should consider the following:

  • Product development: What services/foods will set your business apart from its competitors?
  • Sales/Marketing plan: Who is the target audience? How will you reach that audience?
  • People/Partnerships: What positions need to be filled? What types of professional relationships should be created first?
  • Financial planning: How much can be made with the business? How many customers or sales will you need to break even or create a profit? Where will you get the necessary funding to open the business?

Step 3: Form the Business

After you've planned and considered the logistics of the business, it is time to legally form the business. This includes registering the restaurant business with the state of Georgia. Many businesses will choose to register as either an LLC or a corporation.

  • LLC: LLC's are easier to set up. Georgia charges just $140 to register an LLC. As an LLC owner, you have personal liability protection.
  • Corporation: Registering the restaurant as a business entity makes you liable for any lawsuits. Some businesses may also be required to file as a “doing business as” (DBA).

Step 4: Register for Taxes

It is also important to register your business for taxes. Every business in Georgia should have an EIN (Employer Identification Number). This is also known as a federal tax ID number. Registering for an EIN allows a business to hire employees and open a business bank account.

There are additional tax rules depending on the details of your business. For example, if the business will sell any items, it also needs to register for Georgia sales tax. If you plan on hiring any employees, you will also need to register for unemployment insurance tax and employee withholding tax.

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts

It is a good idea to have a separate bank account and credit card account for the business. Not only does this improve the business's credibility, but it also protects the business's corporate structure.

Step 6: Set Up an Accounting Process

Accounting allows you to easily track the success of your business. It can also make it easier to file your yearly taxes. You can utilize online accounting software to keep track of your accounting processes.

Step 7: Obtain Any Necessary Permits and Licenses

It is also important to follow all federal and state requirements regarding permits and licenses. The exact permits and licenses needed will depend on the type of business you open. Georgia restaurants will need to have health permits and building permits.

Step 8: Get Insured

Insuring your business can protect you in the event of a lawsuit or when dealing with unemployment. Georgia restaurant businesses should file for the following types of insurance:

  • General liability insurance: Small businesses benefit from general liability insurance.
  • Workers' compensation insurance: Georgia businesses with three or more employees are required to have workers' compensation insurance.
  • Professional liability insurance: Businesses offering professional services or advice should purchase this type of liability insurance.

Step 9: Define Your Brand

The most successful businesses have a strong brand message. This allows customers to recognize them, and it sets them apart from their competitors. Create your business brand by considering your values, services, and products.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence

Having an established web presence is important in today's digital times. Websites also are a point of communication for potential customers. Additional methods of establishing a web presence include:

  • Creating social media accounts.
  • Creating review sites.
  • Creating a local Google page.

Following these recommended steps can lead you in the right direction of starting a restaurant business in Georgia. If you need help with starting a restaurant business in Georgia, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.