You’ve decided you have a fantastic idea for a business and you can’t wait to deliver your products or services to your customers. Your enthusiasm is commendable, but it’s important to make sure all the correct legal structures are in place to protect your new endeavor. Taking the time to properly structure your Virginia business from day one prevents costly and time-consuming problems in the future.
4 Steps to Forming a Business in Virginia
Before you open shop, there are some administrative issues that your business needs to take care of.
- Choose a legal structure. Most small businesses begin as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. You need to consider the type of business you’re forming, as well as your tax, financing, and financial goals, to determine the most suitable structure. LLCs and corporations have specific paperwork that must be filed with the state. Sole proprietorships and partnerships require no paperwork to form, although it is recommended that you create a partnership document to legally protect yourself if you are ever involved in a dispute with one or more of your business partners.
- Choose a name. If you are an LLC or corporation, you must choose a name that is different from those already on file with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC). If you are a sole proprietorship doing business under a name that is not your full legal name or a partnership doing business under a name other than the surnames of the partners, you need to file a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name in the county where you do business.
- Choose a location. Zoning regulations will affect where you can do business, even if you are a sole proprietor working from home. You can learn about zoning requirements by contacting your town, city, or county's Zoning Office to determine requirements they may have.
- Obtain the necessary licenses and permits. If your business sells goods, you need to register with the Department of Taxes (DOT) to collect sales tax. If your business has employees, you need to register with the DOT for employer withholding taxes. You will need a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if you have employees or your business will be taxed separately from you. Depending on your industry, you may need to meet requirements set by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).
Get the Support You Need to Make Your Business a Success
Virginia was rated by Forbes as the second easiest state in which to conduct business, but that doesn’t mean you should try the DIY approach to setting up your company’s legal structure. There are too many variables to consider, and the consequences of a mistake can be severe.
GuideOn Legal Services founder and attorney Jack Grimes understands where you’re coming from as a Veteran, active-duty servicemember, law enforcement officer, first responder, or member of the intelligence community. In addition to having 20 years of combined service in the military as an Army NCO and Air Force JAG officer, Jack is a former vice president of a Fortune 500 company who started his own small business.
GuideOn Legal Services offers affordable and effective legal assistance for entrepreneurs, so you can keep your focus on managing the day-to-day operations of your business. Call or complete the contact form below today to discuss how we can help you form a small business in Virginia.