Start Your Business

The Laurel Ridge SBDC provides free and objective guidance to set up your business for success. Our resources include checklists, resources on county, city and state processes, and our comprehensive planning guide.

All of the steps and considerations one must undertake when they start a business can seem overwhelming. Make no mistake, the process requires dedication and commitment, and the eventual success of your business concept will depend heavily on the investment of time and thought at the start. Most entrepreneurs underestimate how long it will take, and you should prepare to invest weeks and months rather than days.

While that might sound discouraging, many entrepreneurs before you have done it and so can you! The more understanding and expertise you have in your particular area, or the more time you’re willing to invest in extensive research, or even working for a while for someone else in that area, the better prepared you will be.

10 Steps to Starting a Business

Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. Click on the links to learn more.

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.

Use these tools and resources to create a business plan. This written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

·       Executive Summary

Your executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. Read these tips about what to include.

·       Company Description

Your company description provides information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.

·       Market Analysis

Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research your business industry, market and competitors.

·       Organization & Management

Every business is structured differently. Find out the best organization and management structure for your business.

·       Service or Product Line

What do you sell? How does it benefit your customers? What is the product lifecycle? Get tips on how to tell the story about your product or service.

·       Marketing & Sales

How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Read more about how to include this information in your plan.

·       Funding Request

If you are seeking funding for your business, find out about the necessary information you should include in your plan.

·       Financial Projections

If you need funding, providing financial projections to back up your request is critical. Find out what information you need to include in your financial projections for your small business.

·       Appendix

An appendix is optional, but a useful place to include information such as resumes, permits and leases. Find additional information you should include in your appendix.

Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free online training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.  Don’t want online call our office at 540-868-7093 for free consulting at one our local offices.

Step 3: Choose a Business Location

Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Step 4: Finance Your Business

Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

Step 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

Step 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register your business name with your state government. Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 7: Register for State and Local Taxes

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 8: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Step 9: Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

Step 10: Find Local Assistance

Contact us to find local assistance!