Lynchburg is the city of opportunity. We welcome anyone who wishes to start a business, and aim to provide them with the resources necessary to be successful. However, starting a business can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. If you are looking to start a business in Lynchburg, read below to learn how to get started.
Choose Your Structure
As your business becomes a legal entity, it can hold a bank account and pay taxes the same way that an individual can. The way that a business is structured plays an important part in how these things are done, as well as what parts of your personal life are vulnerable in the event that legal action is taken against you. Consider the following corporate structures and choose the one that is right for your business and lifestyle:
- Limited Liability, or LLC
- Sole Proprietorships
- General Partnerships
Take Care of Legalities
Once you have established a structure, there are a few legal steps you need to take care of:
- Register your business. Virginia has made this quick and painless, allowing you to skip the paperwork and register online at the Business One Stop website.
- Trademark your name. The application, conducted through the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, should take less than 90 minutes, and costs between $275 and $325. If you are using a trade name and aren’t registered as a corporation, you’ll need to register your name for $10 with Lynchburg’s Clerk of the Circuit Court.
- Get a Tax ID. A Tax ID operates like a business’s social security number. This can be done through the Business One Stop site as well. Click here to learn what local taxes will apply to your business.
- Acquire proper licensing. You will need a letter of approval, certificate of occupancy, and to complete an application for a business license. Visit the City’s process here.
Pick a Location
If you don’t already know where you want to build your business, take a look at the available properties within the city. These commercial properties may be the perfect place for your idea, and most are within the heart of the city.
Create a Business Plan
Your business plan is crucial to the foundation of your business. While online resources are a great place to get started, be sure to check out the Small Business Development Center for help and guidance with creating your plan.
Explore Grants and Financing Incentives
Lynchburg is a great place to start a business, partly because of all the great local incentives offered to business owners. Here are just a few of the current available incentives:
- Real Estate Rehab and Renovation Tax Credit– Residential rehabilitation projects are offered up to 10 years of real estate tax exemption on the improved value of the home. Commercial and Industrial properties will be given up to ten years of tax exemption on the improved value of rehabilitation and renovation. This effort has the potential for job creation for commercial and industrial uses.
- EDA Capital Investment Program- Incentive value in the form of cash, infrastructure improvements or other support as determined by the EDA may be given for eligible capital investments.
- Local Redevelopment Program– Designed to support small- and medium-scale investments in commercial property within the city’s Enterprise Zones, the Local Redevelopment Program supports a portion of qualified expenditures. Property requires at least 20% commercial use. Proper permitting is required to qualify, and submitted project costs are verified by building permit. Applications must be completed within 30 days of beginning work.
There is a wide variety of options available, so be sure to view the web page for the complete list.
Find a Mentor
Connecting with a business mentor is a crucial part of both starting a business and connecting with the community. When looking for a mentor, talk to as many business owners as possible. Often, the best mentors are not the ones who have the most money or run the biggest business in town. Look for a mentor who shares your ethics and motives and who you would trust to know the ins and outs of your business. Once you have a mentor, try to meet with them at least once a month, if not bi-weekly, as you start your business adventure.
Use Your Resources
The Lynchburg EDA has numerous resources available to help aspiring business owners. Here are just a few of the many helpful items available on our website:
- Our NaviGrid collects all the resources you need to help your business grow into one quick printable graphic.
- Our blog covers a wide variety of topics, from current events in the city to upcoming grant opportunities.
If you prefer to talk to someone face to face, you can always request a meeting with one of our staff members.