STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, file an Application for Reservation of a Business Name form with the VA Corp. Commission that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $10

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A Virginia Registered Agent is a certified individual or business entity that acts as an intermediary, receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on your corp’s behalf. They must be a legal resident of the state or registered to conduct business and have a VA street address where they can be reached at all times during regular M-F workhours.

That said, you can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get an agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCTo officially and legally form your Virginia LLC, you have to file Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1011) with the Virginia State Corporations Commission as well. Just make sure not to file this until you’re ready to set up shop, and apart from registering/reserving your brand name.

You can file your articles through postal mail or online at the Virginia New Entity Formation page.

LLC Filing Fee: $100

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLCAll businesses in Virginia, like just about everywhere else, are required to get an EIN/FEIN, which is a Federal Employer Identification Number. And yes, even solopreneurs with an LLC need one not just for taxes purposes and legally hiring when it’s time, but to set up business bank accounts and other important parts of the process.

You can obtain an EIN in a variety of ways, but the simplest is to get one free of charge quickly through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

PLEASE shop around and see which bank/credit union on the local/state/national level offers the most convenience and perks for your brand. Don’t make the mistake of assuming where you bank personally is the ideal choice. How’s their online banking? What are their free deposit/withdrawal limits? How high are their monthly fees?

Where you choose to bank is one of the most critical decisions so don’t take it lightly. If this will be your first time setting up an LLC bank account, a) check out this quick breakdown of Business Checking Accounts, and b) keep your brand’s account completely separate from any other of any kind.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Business Licenses

No, this document isn’t mandatory or required by law but not having one is pretty darn foolish, even for solopreneurs. Not only does it add a layer of protection for your brand (LLC status), but it also helps to set down in paper and deal with financial/management disputes and ensures your company is governed by your own internal set of rules rather than the default set on state books which take over with no agreement in place.

To get started, consider checking out this savvy Operating Agreement tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) HANDLE LLC TAXES & LICENSING/PERMITS

Small Business Taxes

Now’s the point where you should ideally have a business attorney or be working with an incorporation provider like IncFile. They’re accustomed to quickly sizing up a company and then getting all the right forms and details to ensure you’re compliant and stay that way during your first year in business.

To get started bookmark the Richmond district office of the Small Business Administration as well as the Virginia SBDC because they’re going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that can take care of the legwork.

OPTIONAL) BUILD YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanOf course you have some sort of plan in the works. If you’re like tons of startups we meet and interview, it’s probably an informal plan that helps you be as quick and reactionary as possible while figuring out the groundwork. We just want you to keep in mind that sooner (hopefully) rather than later you’ll need something more professional.

Why? Well, because all serious potential partners, stakeholders, investors, lending institutions, VC-types, funds, organizations, competitions, and so on will need to see one before they take your brand seriously. These days it’s about presenting the core fundamentals though, not 40-page tomes of data.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

If you aren’t a designer and have no in-house designer or best friend that can do set up your initial business website, there are plenty of cost-effective and beginner-friendly options. Or well, they’re more like platforms where you set up an account and get a one-stop-shop solution – Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify, WordPress, etc., just to name a few.

More and more are popping up every month it seems as the process gets streamlined and made more simple for everyday entrepreneurs that just need a basic agency site, eCommerce store, or landing page to get started. If this interests you, consider learning the basics of How to Make a Website for free through the team at WebsiteSetup.org then apply what you learn.

Need Help Forming Your LLC?

Have a reliable LLC filing service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form an LLC in Virginia isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in Virginia or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.