Starting a Business
Feasibility Checklist (PDF)
A feasibility checklist is a tool that is used to evaluate the potential success of a new or existing business opportunity.
Business Plan (PDF)
A business plan is vital in determining the credibility of a new business opportunity. It can be used as a management tool and may be required if financing is needed. It also demonstrates to prospective investors a well defined course of action.
There are several ways to organize businesses — Sole Proprietorships, General and Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), Limited Liability Companies (LLC), “S” Corporations and “C” Corporations. Before selecting a business type, consult an attorney or accountant for assistance in determining which one is best for your business.
A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself. However, if you are the sole member of a domestic limited liability company (LLC), you are not a sole proprietor if you elect to treat the LLC as a corporation. Sole proprietors own all the assets of the business and the profits generated by it. They also assume complete responsibility for any of its liabilities or debts. In the eyes of the law and the public, you are one in the same with the business.
A Limited Partnership is an organization made up of a GENERAL PARTNER, who manages a project, and limited partners, who invest money, but have limited liability and are not involved in day-to-day management. Typical limited partnerships are in real estate, oil and gas, and equipment leasing and family partnerships.
Limited Liability Company
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the non-corporate form of doing business that provides its owners with limited liability, flow-through tax treatment and operating flexibility through participation in management of the business. The LLC is well suited for every type of business venture, except banking and insurance which are prohibited by Statute. Examples of acceptable businesses are: farming, agricultural services, mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, wholesale and retail trade, investment companies, insurance agents, real estate brokers, all types of real estate ventures, hotels, personal and business services, automotive sales and services, amusement and recreation, health services, accounting, architecture and other professions, just to name a few.
Limited Liability Partnership
If organized as a Limited Liability Partnership under a specific section of the General Partnership Act, partners are not liable for the debts, obligations and liabilities of, or chargeable to the partnership arising from negligence, wrongful acts, omissions, misconduct or malpractice committed while the partnership is a Limited Liability Partnership.
A corporation is a distinct legal entity and is the most complex form of organization. A corporation may sell shares of stock, which are certificates indicating ownership, to as many people as is desirable. The shareholders then elect a board of directors, which elects a president and other officers who run the company on a day-to-day basis. Among the advantages of corporate formation are limited liability of the shareholder and ease of transferring ownership. If the name of the business includes the word “Corporation,” “Inc.”,”Incorporated” or “Corp.”, then the business must be incorporated.
Electing S Corporation status is an option that must be made through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when starting a business. In general, an S Corporation passes through income and expenses to its shareholders, who then report them on their own income tax returns. To qualify for S Corp. status, a corporation must meet several requirements, one of which limits the number of shareholders.
How do I register a business?
A Fictitious Trade Name is required if a business is conducted in Virginia under a name other than the owners legal name. An assumed or fictitious name certificate must be filed in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Records Room, Courts Building, Government Center, 4301 East Parham Road. No person, partnership, limited liability company or corporation may conduct or transact business in the Commonwealth under any assumed or fictitious name until they file a certificate in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office pursuant to 59.1-69 of the Code of Virginia.
Businesses registered with the State Corporation Commission may file a Trade Name at the local level if it is conducting business under a different name other than the name that is registered with the State Corporation Commission. If you are conducting business under the name registered with the State Corporation Commission, you are not required to file a trade name on the county level. The types of businesses registered with the State Corporation Commission are General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Foreign Limited Partnership, Corporation, or Limited Liability Company.
Businesses registered with a Foreign State Corporation Commission must register with the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond as a foreign corporation before registering a trade name on the county level.
You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney concerning the protection of your business trade name. A trade name filed at the local level does not have the same status as those filed with the State Corporation Commission.
All persons that register a trade name who do not reside in the Commonwealth are required to provide the name, address and phone number of a Virginia registered agent for purpose of service of process.
For more information, please contact the Department of Finance at (804) 501-4310.
- Personal services may be offered by appointment only (not to the general public).
- The business shall be conducted solely by persons who live in the home.
- No more than the equivalent area of one quarter of one floor shall be used for business purpose, and the business may not require external or internal alterations. A home occupation may not use a detached accessory structure for any purpose.
- The business may not involve the use of machinery or equipment not customary for domestic (household) purposes.
- No stock-in-trade shall be kept or product sold, except handicrafts that are made on the premises.
- There shall be no group instruction, assembly or activity.
- There shall be no indication from the exterior that the building is used for any purpose other than a dwelling.
- No more than one commercial vehicle, not exceeding 5,000 pounds empty weight, may be stored at the home.
- Parking of any commercial trailer (enclosed or flatbed) or of any wrecker is permitted only while loading or unloading (regardless of its empty weight).