How to start a business in Virginia

10 Simple Steps

STEP 1: PLAN YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

Write a Business PlanYour first step to building a brand in what Forbes has called America’s #1 place for entrepreneurs, is coming prepared. Take the time to develop a strong pitch, a convincing executive summary, solid financial forecasts, market perspectives, and so forth. Without these insights in place, driving you and defining your objective, it’s going to be hard to compete.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way. We’ll guide you step-by-step through the process and help refine all your core fundamentals: marketing, budgeting, milestones, pitch, etc. into a presentation-ready plan.

STEP 2: CHOOSE BUSINESS STRUCTURE & REGISTER

How to Choose a Business StructureNow it’s time to choose a business structure and in the process get a fair amount taken off your plate in one swoop. Along with the legal/financial benefits of registering a business, you secure a name and protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) in the process.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it’s not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You’ll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

STEP 3: SYNC WITH THE VIRGINIA TAX CODE

Small Business TaxesHome to the Pentagon and Mount Vernon (not to mention Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe…), Virginia’s tax code can get a little interesting depending on what type of business you intend on creating and under what sort of legal structure. Take a little time and leverage the countless resources you’ll gain – like Virginia Incentives.

Take Action: If you’re Lone Rangering this part, you’ll want to bookmark the Virginia Dept. of Taxation Business Section through Virginia.gov. It provides access to their forms, all the tax info you’ll need concerning your rights, localities, etc.

STEP 4: OBTAIN PROPER LICENSING & PERMITS

Business LicensesDepending on your industry and where you plan to open up shop you’ll either have plenty of regulatory red tape or a smidgen. That said, you’ve got two resources to make sure you get all licenses and permits taken care of:

  1. For DYI’ers the first thing to do is head HERE and see if you need a license or permit. Consider creating an account using their Business One Stop site as well.
  2. For help finding the licenses you’ll need, there is a Business License Service we highly recommend looking into. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

STEP 5: CREATE A DEDICATED BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountOf the countless “steps” you’ll take as an entrepreneur and startup owner, this is the easiest. All you have to do is familiarize yourself with the benefits of business accounts, find a great institution that has the best for your platform, then set up branded accounts completely separate from personal accounts of any kind. Centralize your financials.

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STEP 6: PICK A STELLAR VIRGINIA LOCATION

How to Choose a Business LocationFrom historic Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, Virginia is one of the most influential areas of the modern world. Whether you set up shop in Alexandria or Virginia Beach, or perhaps in a smaller gem like Vienna or Charlottesville, you’re going to have it all and be centrally located in the northeast.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

STEP 7: FINANCE YOUR BUSINESS

How to Finance a BusinessVirginia’s rocking a $462 billion dollar GDP. From local and county, to state-level programs, initiatives, networks, groups, and on and on you have no limits. Money flows through Virginia like the Salmon of Capistrano. Just be sure you know how much is needed to get your business off the ground and start there.

Take Action: You can browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas. Keep in mind the email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like peas and carrots.

STEP 8: DESIGN & PUBLISH A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteAll you may really need as a startup is a basic website, or even just a single landing page with all the pertinent details while you bring your business idea to life. What matters is the world has a way to investigate you, share your news, and engage if they aren’t located in the Virginia area.

Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are some great options out there. Head on over to our reviews of the top two in our book (Wix and Weebly) to get a head start if you don’t already have this in the bag.

STEP 9: MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

Social Media ChannelWhether we’re talking about the digital sphere or the melding of cultures on the ground in Roanoke, where are your ideal customers/clients/users? Be as specific as you can, because each and every one of them are huge reservoirs waiting to be explored. There is no more powerful marketing asset than direct and honest feedback.

Take Action: Incentives drive effective marketing because they’re used to get your community to create valuable marketing for you, to give feedback, and they drive follow-through sales which typically account for the majority of positive margins. How are you using them to drive you brand?

STEP 10: CONTINUE LEARNING & STAY INSPIRED

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsAt this point you should be the owner of an official, in-operation and being-marketed business. So please consider Startup Savant as a reliable resource to turn to for tools, insight from fellow change-makers, and motivational content that keeps you chugging along, onward and upward. The good life of a rising entrepreneur.

Take Action: Join the tribe by following us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

Virginia Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Virginia, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options
And

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options