How many months have you been pulling your hair out trying to figure out how to become legal with your photography business? How many third parties have you looked into about doing all the work for you? The answer to both of those questions is probably A LOT! Im here to save you a headache and a half, all my fellow Georgia friends.
The steps below are how I became a LLC with my photography business. Some things may be different for your depending on which county/city you live in and what type of business you’re conducting. To file in Georgia it is a $100 fee. The annual registration fee is $50 per year.
Visit Georgia Corporations Divisions at https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/
Click “Online Services”
Click “Create a new user account”
Once you create your account, go back to the login screen you were previously at (under online services) and login.
Click Create or register a business. Choose “I am creating a new domestic business”
There will be a drop down menu stating the “Business Type” and you’ll choose Domestic Limited Liability Company.
From there you should be able to fill out the remainder of the page. Here are some bullet points IN ORDER on the form, of what each entry means.
- NAICS code This is a code used to identify your business. If you are a photographer your NAICS code will be “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (54)” and your SUB CODE is Photography Studios, Portraits (541921)
- Naming your business Enter your LLC name exactly as you would like it, including any capitalization as well as the designator. You are required to have a designator behind your name. You may also use a comma. (L.L.C, LLC etc) There are many designators listed as you fill this out. You do need to list at least a 2nd and 3rd business name just in case your first choice isn’t approved.
- Principal office address is the address of where you conduct the majority of your business (Usually this is the home address of most photographers who do not own a studio). The state will use this address to send you normal correspondence. Organizer is considered the person whom owns the business.
- Business Email enter your preferred email address. It does not have to be geared towards your business. You may use your person email..I just would keep it semi professional and not email@example.com catch my drift?
- Registered Agent Information is YOU or someone that will be taking care of your legal documents. Its like the “mailbox” for your business. ‘The registered agent is the person or entity located in the state designated by the owner to receive and service of process, documents, or other official communication on its behalf.” Some people use their attorneys for this, BUT MOST just put themselves as a registered agent. If you’re listing yourself the ONLY stipulation is that you MUST be a resident n Georgia and you must be located at the physical address listed as the business address. Most of the time it is solely the business owner who enters their information here. This is saying YOU as the business owner are the one to receive any documentation and officially communicate with the State of Georgia.
- Organizer Information Hey! Thats you again? You have so many responsibilities as a new business owner, but don’t let it scare you. This is saying YOU are the one organizing and conducting this business. You do have the option to put your attorney here if he/she will be the one responsible for filing any LLC formation documents within the state. Make sure to click “ADD” once you’ve filled it out.
- Optional Provisions This section is often left blank. This is where you can add any additional rules and regulations to your LLC. This section is NOT required to be filled out. Filers Certification (Signature) Check the box agreeing to the terms. Then select your effective date. Most people choose the date they are filling this form out. Whatever date you choose this means that your LLC will officially be formed on that date within the state. So, if you are rebranding and waiting till a certain month- you are more than welcome to start it then (up till 90 days)
- Authorizers Signature Make sure to enter your FULL name here. In the “Authorizer Title” drop down list, select “Member” if you own the LLC. If you are filing LLC for someone else you would need to choose “Organizer”
From here you can review all the information you put in. You may edit to make any changes. Please triple check for any typos! If everything looks good, click the CONTINUE button at the bottom to proceed.
- Processing Time: In the “would you like to expedite the filing” drop down list, choose your desired processing time. Regular process is 7 days and $100. Click the “click to pay” button to make your payment.
CONGRATULATIONS! Your GEORGIA LLC has been filed!! Now all thats left to do is WAIT. How proud are you this far? You’re doing a great job! I highly recommend to download the GA SOS app so you can easily access it at any time! Get yours here:
“Employee Identification Number.” This is your personal tax id number for opening up business bank accounts, filing taxes etc. READY?!
You’ll need to apply for your EIN number once your business has been approved and you receive your certificate. (Usually takes 3-7 days for approval. They will email you your certificate or you can access it at any time on your dashboard at https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/Account
Ready to apply for your EIN? Visit https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers
Click “Apply Online Now” (Do NOT do this on your phone. Make sure you have plenty of time(15+minutes) to complete your application. I HIGHLY recommend saving any documentation to your computer or have them mail your EIN number for safe keeping. Your EIN number is not easily accessible. You have to call the IRS to obtain a copy of it if you misplaced it or can’t remember it. I have had to do this twice and its a good 45 minute phone call!
After completing it you are GOOD TO GO! Congratulations, you are a LEGITIMATE business in the State of Georgia! Please check with your county to see if you need any county licensure. Every County/City is different.
File quarterly to save money, keep track of expenses and to stay ahead of the game. Use an excel worksheet, paper + pen, etc! STAY AHEAD
Hire a CPA either now, or near tax season of you choose to file yearly.
Have a Business bank account to easily document all expenses and transactions
Only use business friendly payment options. THIS IS IMPORTANT! I use Square or Personal Checks. For 99% of everything I do it is through square! You do pay fees, but guess what? Its a tax write off.
Im a paper and pen kinda gal, so I also keep track of everything on paper. Mainly its my business expenses. I recommend using an excel worksheet or doing it the classic way, like I do! Here is a super helpful notebook on Etsy!
Filing yourself as a business is scary BUT such a breath of fresh air all at the same time. Put yourself out there so wedding venues, clients and other businesses do not have to worry about the legitimacy of your business. Making sure to make it known to others is important. Shout it from the rooftops!! I guarantee that you’re that much further from taking your hobby to the next professional level.