Start a Small Business

A Recipe for Small Business Success

If you are thinking about starting your own business, Arlington Economic Development’s BizLaunch team knows the recipe for success. From the start of an idea, to getting your Arlington business license, to launching your business, BizLaunch can connect you to the information, resources and assistance you need to make sure your business doesn't fall flat. Watch the video and follow the steps and links in the tabs below to get started creating your small business.



Start With A Solid Plan

A thorough business plan is the foundation for a successful business. Unfortunately, many startups skip this crucial step, but the truth is you set yourself up for long-term success by creating a plan. Here you’ll find sample plans, ways to conduct market research, and the opportunity to get one-on-one help as you create your business plan.

Sample Business Plans

Have questions or need feedback on your business plan?


Secure Funding

A business requires capital. Your business plan will determine how much you’ll need to start and manage your business successfully. Many new businesses take time to attract clients and repeat business, and they require financing until they reach profitability. It’s also important to include financing for unforeseen circumstances such as business continuity planning or other potential business emergencies.

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.

Hire Advisors

Hire Essential Advisors

It is important to hire an accountant and a lawyer to save you headaches in the future.

These two professionals may be costly initially, but each is a worthwhile investment in your business. Your attorney can also help you select your business structure, which is an important step before you start working on Federal, State and Local Regulations.

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.

Licenses and Taxes

Know Your Licensing and Tax Requirements

A business plan might be the single most important aspect of starting a successful business, but ensuring your business is following all the appropriate regulations and tax codes is the place where many people make mistakes.

Be sure to walk through all of these federal, state and local requirements, including obtaining your Arlington business license, before you launch your business.

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.

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 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 do your business use in your 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

If you are hiring employees, remember you’ll have 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

Finally, you’ll need to apply for your Arlington business license – contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office to pay your Arlington County 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.

Market Your Business

Market Your Business

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up with what your business does and then forget to develop a plan to make potential customers aware of your business. A marketing plan is a plan that describes how you will make people aware of your business and attract them to purchase from you. Having a strategy to market your business and meet new clients is vital to your success.

Here are some helpful resources:


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.

Contact Us

Need assistance? Start here!

Starting a business is a daunting task. But you don’t have to go it alone. We can help. Tell us more about your needs and we will match you with the staff person best suited to assist you.

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