Virginia Franchise Laws
How to Open a Small Business in Virginia (including Franchises)
Starting a small business is the proverbial American dream, but for many it remains just a dream. For those who take the plunge into entrepreneurism, however, the journey is one filled with hard work, challenges, and often financial rewards. Fortunately, opening a small business in Virginia is a straightforward, affordable process.
1. Write a business plan that details your goals for your small business and how you plan to achieve those goals. In addition to needing a business plan to show lenders, which may include the Virginia chapter of the Small Business Administration or the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, you must also update your business plan as needed throughout the lifecycle of your business.
2. Decide which business structure to use: Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation. Once you have determined which business structure you want to start, you must register your new business with Virginia's State Corporation Commission before you can actually start doing busi ness in the state.
3. Choose your business name. Once you have chosen a name, contact the State Corporation Commission at 1-866-722-2551 to determine if it is available for use in Virginia.
4. Register your business name with your local town and with the state of Virginia.
5. Determine how you're going to finance your business startup, including contacting the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, which offers financing assistance to businesses and non-profit organizations in Virginia. Also consider such options as applying for a loan through your local financial institution, dipping into your savings, borrowing from family or friends, using a credit card, or saving money from your current day job.
6. Create a marketing plan that will allow you to aggressively market your business in Virginia and on the internet. For example, you may want to join TheShenandoahConnection.com business network to meet other Virginia business owners and find potential clients, and also consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce chapter.
7. Choose an accounting system as it is essential to keep accurate records of your expenses and your income. You should also consider finding a Certified Public Accountant through the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants to help you with your accounting and taxes at the end of the year.
8. Set an opening date for your business once you have completed all the necessary legal requirements for your town and the state of Virginia. Officially launch your new small business in Virginia.
Tips & Warnings
If you do not have at least six months of living expenses in the bank, consider starting your business part-time until your business starts making money.
Take advantage of the small business resources available to you, including the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE.