Sole proprietorship is the least regulated form of business in Georgia -- although you're personally liable for any problems that arise from your business. All it takes to get started legally is registering a unique name, obtaining any required licenses and insurance and registering to pay taxes. In Georgia, the Secretary of State's office manages and administers matters of business formation.
Your business needs a name, even if you want it to include your own name to reflect your sole proprietorship. In Georgia, the name of your business needs to be unique. Search the Georgia Secretary of State database to make sure no one else already uses your intended name. Register the name at the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county for the principal place of business. You may want to register the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, too.
Your proprietorship may require licenses to operate. For instance, if you perform certain trades, you may need occupational licenses. Depending on what kind of business you operate, you may obtain the license through education or by applying with a specific regulatory agency. If you conduct business in a dedicated location, like an office or a storefront, you may need a certificate of occupancy for the building. Each county and town handles its licensure requirements differently, so check with the local license bureaus.
Certain regulations apply to all businesses. From a federal perspective, you need to get an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. It's mandatory if you have employees, and even if you don't, it's still helpful for opening bank accounts and similar administrative work. If you have more than three employees, Georgia requires you carry worker's compensation insurance, which you obtain from an insurance broker who will report it to the state on your behalf. Finally, you must register to pay taxes with the Georgia Department of Revenue by filling out the State Tax Regulation Application.
Before you commence your operations, open a bank account. Although your personal assets are subject to liability, keeping personal and business money separate is usually a good idea. Sole proprietors pay taxes with a Sole Proprietor form, so a separate bank account is a useful record at tax times. Most banks require sole proprietors to bring their EIN and the business name filing document you obtained from the Clerk or any relevant business licenses that show the name of your business.