Starting a business in West Virginia is easy, just follow these 10 steps:
Step 1: Make A Plan For Your Business
By taking this initial step seriously and ironing out an amazing game plan, are you sure to be an outrageous success? Absolutely not. What it will ensure though is that you run a tighter ship, dramatically increase your odds of following through, and get far more from your business. Truth be told, to the degree you invest in yourself and commit to your ideas, so shall you dive into the planning phase.
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.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Register Your West Virginia Business
The next step involves picking the type of legal entity that best suits your goals and then registering it. This will protect your personal assets and secure a brand name in the process. There aren’t too many variables here, but you need to brush up on the basics if you don’t have a legal team in your pocket.
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: Determine Your Tax Obligations
In West Virginia different tax rates apply to different types of businesses and these rates can vary from city to city. Before heading to a certain area, it’s advised you contact the city and see what if any Business and Occupation Taxes apply. There are also potential state and county taxes to consider, but don’t worry, you’ll set up an account with the state where all of this is handled/reported at once.
Step 4: Obtain Necessary Business Licenses And Permits
After your brand is registered and synced with the tax system, it’s time to file with the WV Secretary of State, any necessary agencies and then file copies with local/county agencies if applicable for proper licenses and permits.
- For DYI’ers head to the Business for West Virginia site and use their Apply for Licenses Permits.
- For help finding the licenses you’ll need, a Business License Service is what 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: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Recommended: BlueVine is an online bank with free business checking and no hidden fees. Great for businesses who do not often deal with cash.
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
A good business credit score will help establish your business’s fundability. It can help with many things, including credit cards that are issued in your business’s name and score instead of depending on your personal credit score, better interest rates on loans, higher lines of credit, and more.
Step 6: Choose A Location For your Business
In terms of sheer stunning beauty in all seasons, West Virginia’s got it covered (especially Autumn). Regionally it’s arguably the central-most state of the east coast, although West Virginians typically consider themselves a little more “southern”. From Morgantown and Bridgeport, to historic Charleston or Lewisburg to the south it’s truly an amazing place to live and be in business.
Two things matter when choosing a business location:
- How many resources you have in the area to help grow the brand.
- How much easier or harder the location makes it to manage the business.
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: Fund Your Business
What it comes down to is this, are you willing to take on debt/credit to fund your business or not? If the answer is no, the good news is there are ton of options for startups in West Virginia. Consider leveraging state and local-level funds/programs, as well as online options like CrowdFunding.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like pepperoni rolls and John Denver. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Create Your Business Website
Just to be prudent because you may be unaware… no one’s going to take your product or service seriously if it has no real digital presence. And no, nothing but a social media profile doesn’t count anymore. But that said, it doesn’t mean you need a business website as stilling as the views from Blackwater Falls State Park. There are savvy, streamlined and less expensive options these days.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are a handful of great options. Head on over to our reviews of Wix and Weebly to get a head start. They’re both very reliable, affordable and easy to use. Plus they offer free trials so you can test the waters!
Step 9: Market Your Business
Chances are you approach marketing like it’s a fierce stretch of Gauley rapids in the spring. Relax, there’s absolutely no reason to be in a hurry. At least not to the point it becomes detrimental to your sanity and your margins. Be strategic and patient. Along this water theme, marketing is more like fly fishing on Elk River.
Take Action: Start as close to home as you possibly can because the old saying is truer than you could possibly imagine, “Everything you need to succeed is within reaching distance.” West Virginia has it all, so wherever you set up shop get outside and start networking with locals!
Step 10: Continue Learning And Stay Inspired
At 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.