Starting a Business

The initial steps of establishing a business entity are the same for any small business in Virginia.  You may want to discuss the options with a lawyer and/or an accountant.

Next steps Description Contact
Legal Structure Choose a legal structure (e.g. sole proprietorship, corporation, cooperative, etc.) to establish the managerial, financial and legal foundation for your business. US Small Business Administration provides a helpful guide

Virginia State Corporation Commission requires online registration of your business name

Register your business for tax purposes Establish a tax identifier for your business. All businesses need to register online with Virginia Department of Taxation.
You may also need to register with the federal government. The legal structure of your business will determine whether or not to register with the federal Internal Revenue Service. See this link for more information.
Identify the need for a business license Local governments require business licenses for certain types of business. A business license is required to operate in the Town of Ashland. Call (804) 798-8650 for assistance.

Resources and Services

Town of Ashland offers services to prospective business owners, including permit process guidance (jointly with Hanover County), business licensing, sign permits, networking with community programs and other businesses, and site selection assistance. The Town also offers grants and/or financing for specific purposes through the Economic Development Authority. Call 804-798-1073 for assistance.

Hanover County offers services to prospective business owners, including permit process guidance (jointly with Town of Ashland), business counseling, economic data, networking, and site selection assistance. The County also offers incentives for target industries. Call 804-365-6464 for assistance.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership provides resources for starting a business in Virginia, including site selection, community profiles, key industries, production assets, and global connections.

Virginia Business OneStop provides information on starting, running, and/or expanding a business in Virginia. The website outlines the beginning steps to register your business with state and federal entities.


A. Creating a business plan:

  • Developed a product or service that the target market needs
  • Researched market competition
  • Identified business location
  • Developed marketing strategy
  • Researched operational needs; staffing and support
  • Projected startup expenses
  • Created projected financial statements: cash flow, income statement, balance sheet
  • Projected statements for the next 2-3 years
  • Projected 3 scenarios: worst case, realistic case, best case
  • Met with an SBDC consultant

B. Establishing and Opening the Business:

  • Identified personal income tax implications and liability issues related to the business
  • Evaluated and created a legal business structure
  • Acquired a Doing Business As (DBA) certificate
  • Acquired an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Identified requirements for federal self-employment taxes, Social Security, withholding for employees (See the IRS web site)
  • Identified requirements for necessary permits, zoning requirements, applicable local business taxes
  • Identified requirements for occupational safety/health plans
  • Identified requirements for worker’s compensation insurance 
  • Identified requirements for unemployment insurance
  • Identified requirements for state business taxes, withholding
  • Opened appropriate business accounts
  • Identified sources of capital (Equity, debt)
  • Set up credit terms, relationships with suppliers
  • Set up bookkeeping system
  • Acquired appropriate property/reviewed lease with attorney
  • Prepared property for business use
  • Acquired property insurance
  • Acquired appropriate equipment
  • Prepared equipment for business use
  • Acquired equipment insurance
  • Acquired raw materials/merchandise from suppliers
  • Implemented marketing plan
  • Hired employees to staff business
  • Filed new hire report

*Credit:  Small Business Development Center in Charlottesville

Start Up Space

The mission of the Dominion Energy Innovation Center is to produce financially-viable and freestanding ventures in the community by providing start-ups with workspace, mentoring, guidance, resources and business support services. The resident membership program provides early stage start-ups more than just an affordable workspace. It gives you access to a team of people and the resources needed to move your business forward. The center also houses a co-working program which offers freelancers, entrepreneurs, creatives and independent workers an authentic experience of working in a shared workspace that you can’t get at home or in a coffeeshop.


Renovated from an old firehouse in the heart of downtown Ashland, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center offers a unique space for start-ups, early stage businesses and creatives alike. From nine available private offices for resident companies to a large, open common area for co-working, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center is designed to foster collaboration and productivity.

Founded in November 2009, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center is a local initiative that aims to attract technology-based and clean energy innovators that desire to accelerate the growth of their early and second-stage businesses. The Dominion Energy Innovation Center (previously known as the Dominion Resources Innovation Center or DRIC) supports great ideas across a wide spectrum of industry sectors in addition to its original focus on building the alternative, renewable energy sector in Central Virginia. Founding partners of this program in addition to Hanover County include the signature sponsor, Dominion Energy, as well as The Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and the Town of Ashland.

Visit Dominion Resources Innovation Center to learn more.