How to Start a Business in West Virginia

With the 3rd lowest cost of labor in the country, West Virginia is a great place to launch your business. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resources in your local area for help.

To Start a Business in West Virginia, follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea


The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our West Virginia visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Tool

Step 2: Plan Your Business


Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

Step 3: Form your Business


Registering your company as an West Virginia business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in West Virginia for as little as $100.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Secure your Domain

We recommend that you check to see if the business name you are planning is available as a web domain. Even if you aren't ready to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 4: Register for Taxes


With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important west-virginia taxes that may apply to you business:

  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for West Virginia Sales Tax.
  • If you hire employees, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
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Register for West Virginia State Taxes

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Withholding Tax

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts


Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting


An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.

Try QuickBooks for free

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses


To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured


Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In West Virginia, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand


The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high quality products and services.

Your business name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business. To learn more about creating the best name for your business, read our How to Name a Business guide.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence


A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’ credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile
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More than ever, people are looking for reviews before doing business. Yelp is an important aspect of social validation for your business, claim your page today and get $300 in Yelp advertising credit.

Sign up for our Business Center

Sign up for a free Business Center account for access to tools, legal documents, and discounts that will help you start and grow your business

Signup Now

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of West Virginia that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Beckley Local Resources

The Hive West Virginia

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Product Development
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Accepts Walks In

Description

The Hive West Virginia provides services to entrepreneurs in various stages of building their business. At every stage, thorough and in-depth mentorship and support is provided to individual business owners. Included in the facility is a makerspace that featues a coding lab, a design lab, a wearables lab, a networking lounge, and virtual and in-person Conference Space.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

WV HIVE Network 282, 282 Minnesota Ave.
Beckley, WV 25801
304-929-1239

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON - FRI: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

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Beckley Resources

Charleston Local Resources

University of Charleston Wehrle Innovation Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Product Development

Offers Free Service

Description

University of Charleston Wehrle Innovation Center hosts a variety of events and great resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. This includes access to a variety of maker spaces, 3D printing, access to mentors, and great events to train one's business and entrepreneurial skills.

Restrictions

Open to the University of Charleston Affiliates only.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

University of Charleston , 2300 MacCorkle Ave. SE
Charleston, WV 25304
304-357-4757
davidramsburg@ucwv.edu

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Charleston Resources

Huntington Local Resources

TEN50 Accelerator

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Description

TEN50 Accelerator provides 3 months worth of assistance and resources to aspiring entrepreneurs, from mentor guidance, networking opportunities, access to investors and educational opportunities. TEN50 Accelerator's services are provided by a large partnership network of public and private entities and are sure to be an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs. The Robert C. Byrd Institute, which houses the accelerator program, also has various manufacturing equipment available for use. The services are offered free of charge, with the agreement that the TEN50 accelerator would receive 5% of any investment your company receives within 18 months of the program.

Restrictions

Must be a technology or product-focused business to use the services.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1050 Fourth Ave.
Huntington, WV 25701
800-469-7224

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Huntington Resources

Martinsburg Local Resources

Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Incubator

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Research

Description

Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship and Economic Development's Incubator is part of Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College; the incubator program provides aspiring entrepreneurs with thorough research-rich resources and educational opportunities. One-on-one coaching on site is also offered as part of the incubator services.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, 316 Eastern Drive
Moorefield, WV 26836
304-434-8000 x 232
smurphy@eastern.wvnet.edu

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Martinsburg Resources

Morgantown Local Resources

Upshur County Development Authority Innovation Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Research

Description

The Upshur County Development Authority Innovation Center provides resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses; the innovation center provides services in funding, business planning, and other research assistance.  Meanwhile, the center also offers one-on-one coaching for non-tech oriented entrepreneurs as well. 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

30 E Main St.
Buckhannon, WV 26201
304-472-1757 x 1
info@upshurda.com

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Morgantown Resources