Launch Your Business


Do Your Research and Write a Business Plan 

This is the first step in the How To Start a Business series.

The most important thing each small business owner needs to know is that a successful new business always begins with a  comprehensive business plan. It’s your guidebook on every step of developing your new business – from developing a mission statement to financial planning to ensuring your business is in the perfect location. 
A business plan should address some of the following items: 


Need help getting started? Below are sample plans, ways to conduct market research, and the opportunity to get one-on-one help as you create your business plan. 


Have questions or need feedback on your business plan? 

Once you've done your research and written your plan, you are ready to move on to Step 2, funding your business.


Fund Your Business 

This is the second step in the How To Start a Business series.

Every small business needs capital. You need to know you have access to funds to ensure you can start and manage your business successfully. Very few businesses are profitable from the onset; you need to ensure you’re able to take the time to attract clients and repeat customers, and you need that crucial financing to keep things moving until you reach profitability.  

There are also always those unforeseen circumstances that arise, and that’s where having sufficient funding is also key. There should always be a business nest egg set aside to handle emergencies or other unanticipated challenges. Some small business owners have their own personal financing or investments from family and friends to get started. Others rely on traditional bank loans or are able to raise venture capital. Research which avenue is best for your business. 

Common Sources of Capital 

  • Personal Savings 

  • Friends and Family 

  • Traditional Lending 

  • Commercial Lending 

  • SBA Guaranteed Lending 

  • Venture Capital 

Check out SBA Funding Programs and Grants for Non-Profit Startups as sources for capital. 


Once you've done your research and written your plan, you are ready to move on to Step 3, consult professional advisors.



Consult Professional Advisors 

This is the third step in the How To Start a Business series.

To be successful in business, it’s critical to hire professionals to provide advice and ensure you’re taking each step in the process thoroughly and correctly. Advisors such as an accountant, attorney, and banker may be costly at first, but each one is a unique and worthwhile investment for your business. 

Running a business requires a lot of red tape – the kind that can be unfamiliar to the majority of us. These professionals are specifically trained to know what’s needed and what to look for at every step of your process – from knowing what regulations or licenses or needed to ensuring you have the right business structure and knowing how much capital you’ll need.   

It is important to hire these pros to save you headaches in the future. 

Pro Tip: Hire a lawyer and accountant who practice in your specific industry or business field. This isn't the time to hire that friend-of-a-friend. 

You will also need business insurance to protect your business and assets. Find an agent to help you purchase the appropriate insurance. 

Once you've done your research and written your plan, you are ready to move on to Step 4, funding your business.




Investigate Your Licensing and Tax Requirements 

This is the fourth step in the How To Start a Business series.

Business Licenses, Permits and Taxes 

While your business plan might be the single most important aspect of starting a successful business, the step that causes the most mistakes is ensuring your business is following all the appropriate regulations and tax codes. There are requirements at the local, state and federal level that all need to be completed before launching a business, so it’s critical to make sure you’ve done your due diligence. 

Check Your Business Name 

Be sure your business name is distinguishable. Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office as well as the State of Virginia’s distinguishable name check availability. 

Find Out What Licensure or Certificates Your State Requires 

Click here for access to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupation Regulation (DPOR) to see if your business is regulated by the State. 

Determine Your Business Structure 

Make sure you determine this in consultation with your lawyer, and then apply for your business structure (i.e., Partnership, LLC, Inc) with the State Corporation Commission (SCC). You’ll want to set up your CIS account with the SCC and register your Trade Name. The fee for Trade Name is $10. Once you are set with the state, you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. 

Check Into Home-based Business Requirements 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to determine if your business will be home-based or if you will lease a commercial space. If home-based and you rent or live in a condo, you’ll want to check with your landlord or property management to see if they will allow you to operate your business from home. If your business is running from home, you will need to apply for a Home Occupancy Permit. This costs $50. Be sure to use the same name you used for your SCC application for your Home Occupancy Permit application too. Note that even with a home-based business, you still need to obtain any necessary business licenses and certifications. 

Get a Commercial Occupancy Certificate 

If you’re in a commercial space, you will need to apply for the Certificate of Occupancy (CO). Typically, a CO is issued after the commercial buildout is completed. If you are unsure as to how your commercial space is zoned check in with the BizLaunch team. If you are a childcare center or need special permission to conduct your business in that space, you’ll need a Use Permit. 

Apply for Special Permits 

Commonly used permits are Live Event, Temporary Outdoor Seating and Signage permits. If you have questions about what permits are applicable to your business, contact the BizLaunch team for assistance. 

Prepare for Unemployment Taxes 

Any business with employees on the payroll has to pay the state an unemployment tax. For more information contact the Virginia Employment Commission, located at 5520 Cherokee Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, VA or call 703-813-1300. 

Get Your Arlington Business License 

Every Arlington business MUST have a valid Arlington business license in order to operate. To apply, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. This office lets you set up your license and pay both the Business License and Business Tangibles taxes.  

Your Business License Tax is the way you pay for your local taxes, while your Business Tangibles Tax is how you pay for equipment you use in the process of doing business. Both taxes are equally important in avoiding penalties and interest. 

Some businesses must also collect Custodial Taxes based on their industry or Retail Sales and Use Taxes based on the goods they sell. 

Once you've done your research and written your plan, you are ready to move on to Step 5, marketing your business.

Market Your Small Business 

This is the fifth step in the How To Start a Business series.

Congratulations! You’ve completed your business plan, you’ve planned for your finances, and you’ve secured all of your licenses. Now it’s time to effectively let the public know your business is open and welcoming customers. This is where effective marketing comes into play. A good marketing plan is a plan that describes how you will make people aware of your business and attract them to become customers. Having a strategy to market your business and meet new clients is vital to your success. 

Here are some helpful resources: 


While it may be tempting to throw all of your effort into your business itself, part of effective marketing also means effective networking; that is, meeting other members of the community who can help you with business referrals and promotion. Below you’ll find a list of organizations that you can join to promote your business, as well as a list of networking tools to assist in publicizing your business. 

Congratulations, once you've done your research and written your plan, you are ready to launch your business!   

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Need assistance? We can help

Starting a business is a daunting task. But you don’t have to go it alone. We can help. Schedule a free, one-on-one appointment with a BizLaunch counselor for help getting started.

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