Small Business Resources

The City of Virginia Beach, as well as many regional and state agencies, can provide small businesses with the tools they need to grow.

Here's a glossary of common terminology and acronyms relating to business plans, accounting, finance, and other aspects of small business.

A - HI - QR - Z

​Accessory Use

Accessory use means using a building or piece of land in a way that's different than its primary designation (see primary use). A musical rehearsal studio or massage therapy office located inside your house is an example of an accessory use. A "use" in city planning refers to the way a building or piece of land is designated to be used. For example, a piece of land may be designated as residential, meaning it can only be used as a home.

Accounts Receivable

Money that is owed to a business by customers for goods or services that may have already been delivered or used but not yet paid for.

Application Fee

A one-time fee is paid at the time the application is submitted. Be aware that for some permits, you may have to pay for both the application and the permit. Application fees are usually not refundable and paying one does not guarantee you'll receive the permit you applied for.


Assets are property that your business owns. This includes anything that has value, such as cash, accounts receivables, inventory, supplies, equipment, etc.


The identity for your product or service that differentiates it from the competition.

Brick & Mortar

Brick and mortar refer to businesses that have physical (rather than virtual or online) presences - in other words, stores that you can physically enter to purchase merchandise. When the term came about, most buildings were made of brick and mortar. Though all kinds of building materials are used today, the term is still common.

Building Envelope

The maximum square footage and the number of floors/building height allowed on a property by the city's zoning restrictions.

Building Permit

Allows for new construction or construction activities within an existing building. Building permits are issued after the city has ensured that the proposed activity conforms with all city guidelines and regulations.

Business Entity

A business entity is established as separate from its owners to maximize tax strategies, create liability protection, and ensure asset protection. Corporations, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships are types of common business entities.

​Business Personal Property

Any tangible property owned and used for your business. This includes all machinery, fixtures, office furniture, and equipment that are considered business personal property. In general, business personal property is all property owned or leased by a business except licensed vehicles, business inventory, intangible assets, or application software.

Business Plan

A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects three to five years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.

Cash Flow

A business's cash flow is the measurement of cash flowing into and out of the business within a set amount of time. For example, you might bring in $100 in sales, but spend $50 in supplies within a given month.

Certificate of Occupancy

A document issued by the Department of Building and Safety verifies a building complies with codes, laws, and zoning and is thus approved for occupancy.

Change of Use

Any construction or remodeling that changes the type of facility a business is housed in; for instance, if a print shop is changed into a restaurant. A change of use may trigger different zoning and permit approvals.

Conditional Use Permit (CUP)

Required approval for certain types of land uses and business activities, regardless of whether they conform to zoning requirements.


A method of raising capital in small amounts from a large group of people using the internet and social media.


A statistical view of a population, generally including age, gender, income, schooling, occupation, etc. Analyzing the demographics of your customer base is very important in determining branding and marketing.

Doing Business As (DBA)

DBA is a name a business operates under that is different from the legal name of the business. For example, the legal name for a home painting service might be Johnson Enterprises LLC, but the DBA might be Johnson's Home Painting Services.


E-commerce is the act of selling products or services over the internet. When you have an online presence through which you try to make a profit, you are involved in e-commerce.


Approval or permission by the city to use or develop the land. Entitlements are required unless your building and all proposed business activities are permitted under the city's zoning regulations.


Organizations were established as separate existence for the purposes of taxes. Corporations, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships are types of common business entities.


The process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture.

​Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are the costs that do not change in relation to how much you sell. Paying rent or salaries are examples of fixed costs. They do not change if your sales or income increase or decrease.

Food Service Establishment (FSE)

A facility or business that provides food to the public. Examples of FSEs include restaurants, commercial kitchens, markets, food processing plants, caterers, hotels, schools, and hospitals. An Existing FSE is a technical term that indicates that the facility has valid permits and/or a certificate of occupancy established prior to Aug. 1, 2001, that has been operating continuously by the same owner.

Form 1099

A 1099 form is an IRS form for the purpose of declaring income from non-salaried sources. Independent contractors should receive their 1099 by Jan. 1 each year from anyone for whom they perform more than $600 of work. Income reported to the IRS on 1099 is taxable by the City of Virginia Beach if it does not qualify for a tax exemption.


Items in which you owe money and/or debts. If the debt can be repaid in less than five years, it's considered a short-term liability; debts that are to be paid in more than five years are a long-term liability.


A source of financial services for entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to banking and related services.

Net profit

Revenue minus your costs and tax.


The money made from the sale of your product or service.


If a proposed development does not comply with the city's existing zoning code, you can apply to change the zoning into one that will allow your development. This is typically a lengthy process that requires Planning Commission or City Council approval.

​Variable Costs

Variable costs are costs that change in proportion to the number of units produced. For example, if you own a dog grooming business, dog shampoo is a variable cost. You only incur the cost based on the number of dogs you wash. Variable costs aren't as risky as fixed costs because you only incur them when you sell your product or service.


A waiver of zoning requirements. Variances apply only to building restrictions (e.g., height, size), and not to allowable land uses.


The IRS form for reporting employee income.


Allowable land use and building restrictions for geographic areas, as defined by the city's Strategic Plan. If your project is not permitted by the zoning regulations, you will need to apply for approval with the city.

Page Last Updated: October 5, 2023