1. Develop a business plan that outlines the key functional areas of your business. There are two main reasons for having a business plan: 1) to assist you in planning and developing your business and 2) to demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of your business to potential investors and lenders.

Contact the Office of Economic Development at 540-261-8616 to begin the planning process and learn about additional resources available to you.

2. Choose a business entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company). SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP– Forming a sole proprietorship is the easiest way to start a business. In most cases, one must only fill out a simple form to register the business with the local government and conduct a search of your company’s name to ensure there are no other companies operating with the same name in your jurisdiction. A small fee is usually required for this service.

PARTNERSHIP – A business partnership is created when two or more persons agree, in person or in writing, to start a business. The two main types of partnerships are General and Limited.

General Partnerships are the easiest type of partnership to form. The only step required is that you file to protect your trade name. This will prevent another business start-up from using the name you have chosen. The biggest disadvantage to General Partnerships is that each partner is liable for the whole business.

Limited Partnerships are similar to general partnerships, with some exceptions. There are two classes of partners that make up the partnership: General Partners and Limited Partners. General Partners have the same pros and cons as in a general partnership above; however, each Limited Partner in a limited partnership is only liable to the extent of his or her individual investment. Limited Partners have no say in the day-to-day operations of the company; the General Partners actually manage the company. In essence, a limited partner is an investor.

CORPORATION – A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from the people who own it. Shareholders govern the corporation indirectly by electing people to manage it. Forming a corporation is somewhat complicated, and you may want to enlist the assistance of an attorney if you choose to organize your business this way. To form a corporation requires filing Articles of Incorporation with the State Corporation Commission and paying filing fees and other initial fees.

LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY – Forming an LLC is similar to forming a corporation. Articles of organization must be prepared and filed and fees must be paid. An LLC is like a corporation in that it provides liability protection for its owners. It is like a sole proprietorship, partnership or S Corporation in that it protects its owners from double taxation: profits are accounted for on the individual owner(s)’ income tax returns. The LLC owners may choose to operate the LLC like a corporation and elect managers to run it, or they may choose to operate like a partnership and manage the company themselves.

3. Register your business with the VIRGINIA STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION by filing the appropriate entity form. Check with the SCC to determine if the business name you’ve chosen is available by calling 804-371-9733.

4. Obtain a FEDERAL EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER. To download and complete the required SS-4 Form – Application for Employer Identification Number. To complete the Employer Identification Number Application online, CLICK HERE.

5. Register with the VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION to receive a Virginia tax identification number. To download and complete the required R-1 Form – Business Registration Application, CLICK HERE. To complete the Business Registration Application online.

6. Register with the VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION if you are going to hire employees. To download and complete the required VEC-FC-27 Form, CLICK HERE. To complete registration with the Virginia Employment Commission online, CLICK HERE.

7. Contact the Planning Office for site approval, including building structural changes. Forms for starting a business or home occupation can be found in the permit center. The planning office will make sure the business is appropriate within the zoning district your business is seeking location.

8. If doing business under a FICTITIOUS NAME, register with City Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. This is required for any business that does not use its legal, registered name as part of its business name.

9. Finalize the business license for the City of Buena Vista. The cost is $30 if gross receipts are projected to be under $50,000. If the projected gross receipts exceed $50,000, the fee for your business license will be based on your gross receipts and the tax rate for your industry.