Steps to Launching a Business
- Starting a Business
New business owners should always seek guidance from a professional tax consultant, accountant, and/or attorney to make sure all legal requirements are met before operating a business. Here are a few more steps and suggested resources to help get you started.
Which business structure you choose will have specific impacts on your taxes, the relationships between owners and legal liability. If the company is sued for personal injury, can the plaintiff sue you personally and take your house, car and bank accounts? These are important considerations.
Sole proprietorships are usually owned by a single person or a couple. You're personally liable for all business debts, can freely transfer all or part of the business, and for taxes, you can report profit or loss as personal income.
Limited liability companies (LLCs) are very popular. You have limited legal liability like a full corporation; however, for taxes they're more like sole proprietorships or partnerships.
General partnerships let you share profit, loss and managerial duties among the partners, and each is personally liable for any debt entirely. Members file an informational tax return and income/loss is filed personally. ("Joint ventures" are short-term partnerships.)
Virginia offers an online registration system that most business owners can use. But if your business structure is more complicated or if you’re starting a nonprofit organization, the forms must be filled out and filed manually with the State Corporation Commission. A lawyer can help you with this.
Special Note: Business One Stop auto-fills State Corporation Commission forms for you to print and file. However, if you’re registering a new LLC or corporation in Virginia and only need to file your articles of organization or incorporation, you can do that electronically.
In the same way a person has a Social Security Number, a business has federal and state tax numbers. The online registration tool can help you get your federal and state tax ids. Federal information on business taxation and view forms required for each type of business structure. In Virginia, some types of businesses require specific tax registration.
A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document can help you map out a strategy. Visit our Creating a Business Plan page for more information.
All businesses must contact the Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue’s office prior to opening. Revenue agents in that office interview business license applicants and determine industry classification. In accordance with Virginia State law, manufacturing and some nonprofit entities may qualify as tax exempt, but all entities must register with the Commissioner of the Revenue regardless of status. To ensure compliance with state and local tax laws, certain classifications require additional licenses, permits or documentation to obtain a business license, and some documentation may need to be submitted annually.
Note: All business license applications must be approved by the Zoning division of the Department of Planning.
Except for city-owned rights-of-way, all the land in the City of Virginia Beach has a designated Zoning District. These districts are defined in the city's Zoning Ordinance, which describes the regulations applicable to each district. Regulations include minimum yard requirements (or building setbacks), landscaping requirements, and allowable land uses for each district.
The City of Virginia Beach offers a variety of incentives to qualifying new or expanding businesses to help defray costs for building or energy-efficiencies improvements. Businesses can also capitalize on several various incentives and loans offered by the state, Virginia Port Authority, YesOceana,, and Small Business Administration. For more information, visit our Financing Your Business page or our Economic Development Incentives page.
Small businesses are big business for the City of Virginia Beach and a key component to creating a vibrant, successful, global community. As one of America’s largest cities, Virginia Beach understands the value of embracing diverse people and businesses. By creating a dynamic framework where new ideas blend with the existing environment, we can ensure a sustainable and successful future. Part of that framework includes having a business community that reflects all of Virginia Beach. For information about resources, visit our Business Resources page.