This provides a basic checklist for starting a business in Virginia.
- Have a plan. Try to think of everything you will need for starting a business. Think about where you will locate the business, who your customers will be, how much supplies will cost, will you need employees, how you will advertise, and the many other things that will go with starting a business.
- Pick a name. The name you choose must be unique in Virginia. You can check it against the State Corporation Commissions database here.
- Choose a business structure and legally form the business. Will you be an LLC or a corporation? Will you need an attorney or can you prepare the necessary documents yourself? Research the best fit for your business and make sure you take the proper steps to legally establish your business as an entity separate from yourself.
- Get your Tax ID numbers. You will need a Federal Employment Identification Number (EIN), and you will also need Virginia tax numbers. Virginia has separate numbers for income tax, sales tax, and unemployment taxes. You can file for your EIN with the IRS, and your Virginia tax numbers with the Virginia Department of Taxation. Getting these numbers is completely free and not time consuming. You should NEVER pay someone to get these numbers for you.
- Get a business license. In Virginia this is done through your locality. Check with the government where the business is physically located (and this includes home based businesses). As a part of this you should also confirm the location you have chosen for the business is properly zoned for your business. The locality will often check your zoning as a part of the business license process, but you should always confirm zoning before selecting a property.
- Get a business checking account. Some common documents the bank will want to see include, proof of your EIN, a business license, and the certificate given to you when your business is formed with the SCC.
- Get Insurance. It is a good idea to investigate liability insurance for your business. Most leases will require you to have some sort of insurance, and in Virginia if you have more than 2 employees (full or part-time) you will have to have Workers' Compensation insurance.
- Research regulations. Some businesses will be more regulated than others. Make sure you know all the laws and regulations that apply to your business. You can check your business and also sign up for alerts at Virginia's Regulatory Town Hall website.