A company in the United States is a form of business organization that provides for shared ownership by a group of people under unified management.
Most are profit-seeking, privately held small business corporations organized to earn profit for their owners.
A company may be either privately held (owned by one man or a few individuals) or publicly traded (open to all investors).
Registering your Virginia Company is an important first step towards creating that legal business entity.
To register your new Virginia Company, you need to complete few simple steps.
How to start a company in Virginia
Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea
With so many businesses in existence, it would be impossible to try them all. Do your research and spend some time thinking about what business you want to start up.
It helps if you have a passion for that field or are doing something that is truly innovative, which has the potential to grow into an official company. If you are passionate about gardening, consider starting a landscaping service dedicated to organic gardening methods.
Step 2: Plan Your Virginia Business
Think of a name for your business. Names can be creative and fun, but they must be real words in order to make a solid business foundation.
Keep in mind that your business will automatically have a legal name that does not necessarily coincide with the one you came up with. A good email domain name is also very important since it represents your business online.
Your company structure should include several key elements: purpose, ownership, authority, and dissolution. Once you’ve put together the basics on paper, add them to your registration packet.
Name Your Business
This is an important decision, so choose wisely. You can always change your business name in the future if you need to.
To get started, search the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s database of domestic corporations to make sure your desired company name is available.
Find a Business Location
If you plan to run a home business in Virginia, check with your city to find out whether zoning regulations will allow it. Most cities have restrictions on home businesses involving nuisance or hazardous products.
Make sure you have all the required permits and approvals for your location before beginning any construction or renovations on your house. Addresses of government offices that issue such authorizations are available online.
Conduct Market Research
Before you start your company, know the market and do research to determine whether people will even be interested in what you’re selling. It’s also a good idea to hire a lawyer for help with this step as well.
Write a Business Plan
This is a must for your new company. A business plan spells out how you will make money and can be used as a reference later on, such as when applying for loans.
Step 3: Get Funding for Your Virginia Company
You can finance your home business or other small business with a personal loan or credit card. You may also need to borrow money from friends or family but only do so if you are confident that it will be paid back.
Loans are usually available for up-and-coming businesses, but they must be repaid through the company’s profits.
Step 4: Choose a Business Structure
If you are creating a business for the first time, it is important that you know what kind of structure suits your needs best.
You can choose to register your small business as an unincorporated sole proprietorship or partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.
- Sole Proprietorship: Easy to start and operate, no paperwork required. You will be taxed as an individual.
- Partnership: Similar to a sole proprietorship, but two or more people are involved in the business.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This business structure is good for small businesses with multiple owners. Owners are protected from personal liability since their assets are separate from those of the company if it goes insolvent or bankrupts. Operating agreements may need to be signed by all LLC members.
- Corporation: Costs are higher than other structures because you have to file papers and pay filing fee at state and federal levels, but there is less risk of liabilities becoming attached to individuals or partners if something happens within the company. It can also provide tax benefits.
Step 5: Register Your Virginia Business
Once you have chosen the type of corporation for your business, register it in Virginia by filing articles of incorporation.
- You must include at least one director but there is no limit to the number of directors who can be listed- not even your spouse or children are counted in this total.
- A list can also be created with all of the names and addresses of possible shareholders.
- Your business name will be published in a local newspaper for 2 weeks, along with details about what kind of business structure you are using.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission provides step-by-step instructions on how to register a new business in Virginia with checklists, forms, and fees. If you need help, call them at 800-552-7945 or email [email protected]
Step 6: Set up Business Banking, Credit Cards, and Accounting
Open a bank account for your Virginia company. You’ll need a business credit card to use for expenses and bookkeeping software or an online accounting service will help you keep track of all the money coming in and going out.
1. Opening a business bank account:
- You will need your Articles of Incorporation, federal tax ID number, and a check from a business bank account to complete the application.
- A current personal bank statement that includes a checking account balance must be submitted with the application.
- Your banker’s official signature is required on all documents for banking transactions done in person.
2. Getting a business credit card:
The business credit card has a pre-assigned limit. It is for the purpose of paying company expenses only, and must always be paid off at the end of each billing cycle to avoid interest charges and other fees.
Businesses will require bookkeeping services because it helps them keep track of their financial situation and plan accordingly for future endeavors.
Step 7: Get Insured
Your Virginia Corporation needs to be insured because you are taking on risks by starting a business.
The most common types of business insurance every small business should have include:
1) General Liability Insurance
The General Liability policy covers claims of bodily injury and property damage due to events caused by you or someone acting on your behalf. It also protects you from allegations of faulty workmanship, product failure, or damage during construction/renovation projects at your company’s location.
2) Business Auto
Business auto policies cover vehicles that are owned, hired, or leased by the business. There are two separate types of coverage:
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability – Covers any injuries or damages caused by a business vehicle to other people.
- Business Auto Physical Damage – Covers vehicle damage due to collisions, theft, vandalism, fire, and various weather-related incidents.
3) Workers’ Compensation
This covers medical expenses for work-related injuries/illnesses while also providing wage rehabilitation and disability benefits for employees who get hurt on the job. It is not designed to replace lost income from being unable to work; only enough money to cover certain medical expenses is paid out in this case.
The company’s premiums will be based on the risk level determined by industry experts. All policies also include the business Owner’s Policy (BOP), which combines your business property, liability, and other coverages into one policy. A BOP is suitable for most companies of any size, but it may not be the right choice if your business needs coverage for vehicles or specific property types.
When you are searching for an insurance provider in Virginia that offers the type of policy you need, make sure they have a good reputation within the industry. Customer satisfaction reports can help you verify this information.
Step 8: Obtain Permits and Licenses
Before you open your doors for business, Virginia business permits and licenses must be obtained to ensure compliance with local, state, or federal laws.
Some of the common types of permits and licenses required include:
- Alcohol Business License – Businesses that have a serving/selling permit will need an alcohol license to sell/serve alcoholic beverages to customers.
- Broker’s License – A real estate broker’s license is required to buy or sell property in Virginia. You can obtain this type of permit if you are planning on being involved with any aspect of the real estate process.
- Cabaret Permit – If you are planning on having live entertainment at your establishment, read about applying for a cabaret permit first on the website.
- Discharge Permit – The application process for discharge permits differ depending on what you want to do with it. One example of a place that needs an EPA discharge permit is a wastewater treatment or water reclamation facility.
- Gaming License – A gaming license allows businesses in Virginia to host games of any kind, including card rooms and casinos.
- Hotel/Motel License – Hotels/motels must be registered with the state before accepting guests. You will need this type of permit if you are planning to run renovations or build new rooms for overnight stays.
- Liquor License – If you plan on serving or selling alcoholic beverages, make sure to read about getting a liquor license first on the website.
- Mobile Food Vendors Permit – Mobile food vendors who prepare and sell food at their own location will need a permit to operate. You can obtain this permit if you plan on running a food cart or truck.
- Sales Tax License – If your business is located in Virginia and sells products to customers, you will need a sales tax license before opening for business.
Step 9: Hire Employees
You need to hire enough people to ensure your company is running as it should. Depending on the type of work you plan to have done, a business may only require a handful of employees. However, if you would like your business to run more efficiently and be productive in general, you will benefit from hiring a larger workforce.
This step requires much thought and planning before anything else can take place because you will need to understand what positions are necessary for your company. Once these roles are determined, begin advertising for them through local ads or employment websites (if applicable).
If your budget allows, using help-wanted signs around the neighborhood may also attract new talent!
Once individuals are hired, make certain they meet all requirements by administering a drug test. This step is important because it ensures your workplace is safe and efficient for everyone, including yourself.
Register for Virginia State Employee Taxes
If you are planning on hiring employees, make what you need to do with the state before anything else happens.
Employees in Virginia are required to pay taxes to help support the state’s needs, so make sure everyone is properly registered for withholding allowances. If your company hires an employee who resides within the same household as another family member, you need to file a Virginia-4 form with your local Department of Taxation office.
Step 10: Define Your Brand
Your company has finally come to life! Your service or product is now available for individuals that are interested in buying, selling, investing, or contracting your goods.
It’s time to focus on how you want the public to perceive your business. Define what type of brand it will be and make sure everything you do falls under this category.
For example, if you own a coffee shop where individuals can buy food items, you might want it to be known for having excellent customer service with delicious drinks on the menu. Keep this image in mind at all times so everyone within your company can work together as one cohesive unit toward achieving success.
Step 11: Build Your Business Website
Wondering how your business will be viewed on the Internet? Consider building a website to display all of its relevant information. If this step is skipped, you might struggle with obtaining customers that are seeking more information about your company online.
Promoting Your Virginia Business
Serving the public is great, but your company will need to advertise its presence if you want new customers and clients.
- Utilize social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about your business. Using contests and giveaways (and advertising them on social media) may also encourage more people to follow your company on these sites!
- Consider printing signs or flyers so individuals can see what you have to offer when driving by your location on the street. This step may require a bit of money since you might have to pay for any printed materials, but it’s important that potential customers know exactly what you do within just a few seconds of seeing your advertisement.
- Add a “Contact Us” page with relevant information on your website so individuals can learn how to reach you. If individuals are looking for immediate information, make sure this page is easy to find on your website!
Pros and cons of registering a company in Virginia
- Great place to start a business
- Tax environment is beneficial for small businesses and corporations
- Lots of opportunities in growing cities like Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke, and Norfolk
- Companies can operate online or out of individual homes
- Corporations can be created through the mail
- General business registration fees are expensive
- Incorporating a business requires more extensive measures than registering as a sole proprietorship
How much does it cost to register a business in Virginia?
Annual registration fee for a corporation or LLC range between $50 and $300 depending on the type of process you choose.
The more expensive option includes filing articles of incorporation, but is recommended over the cheaper alternative because it is valid in all 50 states.
Do I need to get an EIN?
An EIN, or Federal Employer Identification Number, is an identifying number that should be acquired if you want to hire employees for your business.
This number may also be needed to open a bank business account, file federal tax forms, and do other tasks in the future.
Starting a business is far from easy, but once your goals are set and you follow the steps listed above, your business should be able to operate efficiently with minimal growing pains.
Ensure everyone on your team follows these guidelines so it’s easier for both customers and employees to feel comfortable with using or working at your company!