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How to Start a Business in Virginia

Are you planning on starting a new business in the state of Virginia, but having some trouble getting started? Are the endless websites and paper trails making you feel overwhelmed? Look no further.

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Virginia has a roster of accolades that make it a strong state for business. In recent years, Virginia ranks particularly high in the regulatory category because of the range of incentives for new business owners, and a business-friendly government. Virginia’s economy is diverse and includes military, farming, and manufacturing. One of the state’s nicknames is the “Mother of Presidents” — eight U.S. presidents were born there!

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How to Start a Business

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General resources for starting a business in Virginia

  • Phone Numbers

    Voice: 804-371-9967 (State Corp. Commission)
  • Virginia Business Incubators http://www.vbia.org

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Fun facts about starting a business in Virginia

Famous business founded in Virginia Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree, Inc. is a chain of discount variety stores that sells items for $1 or less. It was founded in Norfolk,Virginia in 1991, and is now headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia. Dollar Tree has 13,600 stores in the U.S.

Famous businessperson born in Virginia Krystal Ball

Krystal Ball (born 1981) is an American businesswoman and certified public accountant. She was a co-host on the MSNBC’s afternoon news/talk show The Cycle from 2012 to 2015. She was born in King George County, Virginia.

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Virginia?

You must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best legal structure. At bizHUMM, we strongly recommend your incorporate.

Here are 5 helpful steps to determine the best legal structure:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Virginia.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company (LLC) is the United States-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners.

Steps to starting an LLC in Virginia:

  • Step 1 — Name your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with any publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — Pay annual registration fees.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Virginia.

For help forming your LLC in Virginia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Other Virginia resources for LLCs:

Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of Business Entity Name” here.
File your “Articles of Organization” here.
Pay your annual registration fee here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here. If your LLC has more than one member, you must get an EIN, even if you have no employees.

Virginia Department of Taxation: If you will be selling goods or will hire employees, you’ll need to register with this site.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship, also known simply as a proprietorship, is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one person, and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for all of the finances of such business.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Virginia:

  • Step 1 — Name your business.
  • Step 2 — File the trade name for your sole proprietorship.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Virginia we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Other Virginia resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name, or an assumed business name.
File your assumed name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here, if you will hire employees.

Virginia Department of Taxes: If you will be selling goods or will hire employees, you’ll need to register with this site.

Partnership
A partnership is a legal form of business operation between two or more individuals who share management and profits. The federal government recognizes several types of partnerships. The two most common are general and limited partnerships. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business and shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Virginia:

  • Step 1 — Choose a partnership name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed name.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Virginia, we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Other Virginia resources for Partnership:

Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership may use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.
File your assumed name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Virginia Department of Taxes: If you will be selling goods or will hire employees, you’ll need to register with this site.

S Corporation
An S corporation is a regular corporation that has elected "S corporation" tax status. Forming an S corporation lets you enjoy the limited liability of a corporate shareholder, but pay income taxes as if you were a sole proprietor or a partner. In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Virginia:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your business.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Virginia Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Virginia

For help forming your S corporation in Virginia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Or, visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Other Virginia resources for S Corporation:

Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of a Business Entity Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Virginia Department of Taxes: Register with this site to fulfill your business tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp for short), refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately. In a C corporation, there can be an unlimited number of stockholders. This allows the corporation to sell shares to a large amount of investors, which allows for more funds to be raised for projects.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Virginia:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your business.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Virginia Annual Report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Virginia.

For help forming your C corporation in Virginia we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, you can visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.

Other Virginia resources for C Corporation:

Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of a Business Entity Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business here.

Virginia Department of Taxes: Register with this site to fulfill your business tax requirements.

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Why choose Virginia for my business?

  • 1

    Forbes “Best States for Business” (2015)
    Virginia ranks #7. “Virginia still ranks at the head of the regulatory category because of its strong incentive offerings and business-friendly government policies. Virginia has a widely diverse economy that includes local and federal government, military, farming and manufacturing.”

  • 2

    Yes Virginia: Business Incentives
    “Designed to target the needs of the company and the development plans of localities and the state, Virginia offers a variety of performance-based incentives. From tax credits to tax exemptions, Virginia continues to demonstrate its willingness to invest in those who invest and reinvest in the Commonwealth.”

  • 3

    VA Small and Veteran Business Programs
    “VA Small and Veteran Business Programs implement the requirements to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small and Veteran business concerns to ensure that the federal government awards these businesses a fair proportion of total VA property and services purchases, contracts, and subcontracts.”

  • 4

    Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
    “The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is designed to save you time! Business USA makes it easier for small businesses to access Federal services, regardless of its source. VA OSDBU quickly connects Veteran entrepreneurs to relevant ‘best-practices’ and information. Collectively, VEP offers direct access to the resources necessary to guide every step of entrepreneurship.”

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