Entrepreneur Portal for Virginia's Growth Alliance Region

checkmarkThere are many steps to complete when starting your new business; use the following checklist to help guide you through common tasks. Remember that there may be requirements specific to your business that aren't included in the list, however.

Prepare your business plan covering 3-5 years, including products, goals, funding sources, competitors, etc.
Decide the legal structure of the business: sole proprietor, LLC, Subchapter S Corporation, or C Corporation.
Get tax ID numbers: Federal tax ID number (EIN) and state ID number, if applicable.
Get necessary licenses and permits. These may be required by your state, county, or locality.
Create a marketing plan. Take into account things like your target market, your strengths and weaknesses, budget, and price point.
Decide upon a business location. If your business will be home-based you should check zoning requirements; if not home-based, find a suitable location for rent.
Get business insurance. Your insurance agent will be able to advise you of the types and amounts you need.
Buy office furniture, equipment and supplies. Make sure to take into account your work habits when choosing a desk, chair, and other furniture.
Open a business checking account and get a business credit card. This will help you keep your business and personal finances separated.
Choose an attorney and accountant. Have the attorney create master contracts and agreements, and the accountant help set up your bookkeeping system.
Obtain business financing from sources like loans and investors.
Create your brand identity, including items like logo, tagline, business card, and letterhead. You should strongly consider hiring a professional for this because it will lay the foundation for all of your marketing.
Get a website domain. It should be as easy to spell and remember as possible. The more characters in it, the more chance for typos when visitors type it in their browser. Avoid cutesy spellings and special characters like hyphens because they're just asking for people to not remember them.
Develop a website. There are services available that will let you do it yourself for free, but remember you get what you pay for. Your website is your face to the world and you should treat it as such. Ask for references when hiring a designer, and follow up on those references.
Make sure you meet government requirements for items like workers comp, OSHA, etc.