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How to Start a Business in Atlanta

Author: Katie Truesdell Date: March 19, 2014

Small business opportunities in Georgia’s capital are plenty. Follow our guide to launching your next venture here.

Proof that entrepreneurs love launching small businesses in Georgia’s largest city:

Atlanta is…

No. 1, Best City to Start a Business (NerdWallet, April 2013)

No. 1, Top Moving Destination in the U.S. (Penske, January 2014)

There are about 20,000 businesses in the city of more than 440,000 people, says Dr. Eloisa Klementich, the managing director of business development at startup incubator Invest Atlanta. And because Atlanta often tops lists for best places to start a business, you can expect more entrepreneurs to join them in a metropolitan area known for its lack of red tape. Here are the first steps to launching a business in the state’s capital.

Find your niche.

As a business hub, Atlanta is brimming with talented entrepreneurs starting businesses, so make sure to carve out your place.

“It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in the ocean,” says Jared Erni, owner of advertising agency VOAB Marketing. “Find a niche in your industry in which you can tailor your services or products.”

Andrew Poulos, principal of Poulos Accounting & Consulting Inc., who has helped individuals start small businesses for 20 years, suggests a variety of niche areas ripe for opportunity. In the Atlanta suburb of Tucker, a growing, affluent area that also has an aging population, Poulos says casual dining, retail businesses and assisted living facilities/services are needed. Another great niche is mobile food truck businesses, which can cater to burgeoning night life, festivals and parties, especially in the Buckhead and Midtown neighborhoods.

Once you’ve found that niche, know who your market is, what they like, what they want and why they want it, says Jovie Sumner, who cofounded Prosperous & Prominent Media with his wife, Tiffiny Fambro. A lot of people try to cater to everyone and end up catering to no one, he says, thus going out of business.

Build a network.

In a metropolitan area like Atlanta, developing a professional network builds awareness for your business and connects you to the city’s movers and shakers, who can help provide advice and support. Michael Lang, founder of Chaperone Technologies, which provides network-protection software, suggests several options for building your network:

·      Meetup, a website that Lang used to find others working in the same industry in Atlanta

·      Twitter, where you can follow other successful Atlanta entrepreneurs and engage on common topics or conversations to build a friendship and ask for advice

Andy Powell, co-founder and CEO of CallRail, a phone analytics platform, also recommends several organizations that connect entrepreneurs with peers, provide collaborative working space and host great community events: Atlanta Tech Village and the Advanced Technology Development Center.

As you build your network of like-minded people and service providers such as lawyers and accountants, take advantage of their expertise, Powell says. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee and pick their brains.

Learn the landscape.

Startup incubators such as Invest Atlanta and Startup Atlanta help individuals launch small businesses. For example, Startup Atlanta offers a map showing networks/associations, accelerators/incubators, coworking spaces, innovation centers, academia, events and more. The City of Atlanta also provides a variety of resources to get business owners started on learning local laws, such as applying for a business license, determining any professional licensing needs (applicable industries include medicine, cosmetology and athletic training) and obtaining building or zoning permits.

Consider physical locations as well, Poulos says. A real estate agent can provide information on growing affluent areas, but here’s a list to start: Tucker, Decatur, Dunwoody, Marietta, Buckhead, Midtown and downtown around Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Do you own a business in Atlanta? Become an NFIB member today and join 350,000 other entrepreneurs who are saving time and money through their membership.

Learn more about NFIB in Georgia.

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