Steps to Start Your Business

  
Step 1

Economic Development Support

Prince William County is here to help take your business beyond.

Be sure to check-in with the Department of Economic Development for connections to business resources, assistance and opportunities. Let us know about your project to receive tailored guidance on how to grow your business here in Prince William County.

If you get stuck along the way – always feel free to contact us at go.kailinsoft.com/smallbiz

  
Step 2

Business Location Search

Real estate in Prince William County offers a variety of options for small and large businesses. If you are looking to start or expand a small business, just check-in with Prince William County Department of Economic Development and we can provide you with custom, current, and complete real estate options and solutions.

TIP: Before purchasing or signing a lease, determine the existing conditions of your selected property and how they may impact your type of business. Contact Prince William County’s Department of Development Services at DDS@pwcgov.org to determine how it may impact your business opening.

IS COWORKING RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you are a home-based business seeking a professional work environment or company needing small office space, a coworking facility may be the right solution for you.

Brickyard (Woodbridge) is a co-working office facility with Flex and Dedicated desks, small private offices, and conference rooms of varying sizes. Virtual memberships are also available if you need a business address.

  
Step 3

Business Counseling, Education and Funding

Business Counseling

Our team of experienced Mason SBDC counselors are here to help you plan, start, manage and grow your business. Receive cost-free expert guidance on topics such as:

  • Business Strategy
  • Financing
  • Government Contracting
  • Marketing
  • Sales

Register online at masonsbdc.org to schedule your first one-on-one business counseling session. If you are already registered, contact the counseling team at 703-261-4105 or help@masonSBDC.org to set up an appointment.

Educational Workshops

All are welcome to access the Mason SBDC workshops presented by subject matter experts on topics such as

  • SEO & Social Selling
  • Legal & Administration
  • Value Proposition Design
  • Government Contracting
  • Preparing Your Pitch

Data and Research

MAGIC, the Management and Government Information Center has specialized staff and resources to assist businesses and nonprofits, to retrieve industry information, seek grant funding, and access laws and regulations.

Simply submit your request to MAGIC at magic2@pwcgov.org or call 703-792-4880.

Grants

If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development, you may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs encourage small firms to undertake scientific research that helps meet federal research and development objectives and have high potential for commercialization if successful.

The Grants.gov program provides a common website for federal agencies to post discretionary funding opportunities and for grantees to find and apply to them. Go to the Grants Learning Center for an overview of grants and find federal grants that align with your work.

  
Step 4

Virginia State Entity Filing, Taxes and Regulations

Business Registration – Visit Virginia State Corporation Commission to file your business entity as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation, Partnership, etc. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney or a tax professional in order to determine the entity type that is most appropriate for your anticipated business activities.

Licensed Professions and Occupations – The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) regulates occupations and professions ranging from architects and contractors to cosmetologists and professional wrestlers. If you believe your industry sector is regulated by the state, visit DPOR for a list of regulated professions and occupations.

Licensed Childcare – Virginia mandates the licensure of family day homes that provide care for five through twelve children. To become a licensed day care provider visit the Virginia Department of Education.

Virginia State Business Taxes – Check with Virginia Tax to see if your business needs to collect any State Taxes such a Sales, Use and Withholding taxes.

Home and Commercial Kitchen Business – Food establishments, including private homes, that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for sale are subject to the Virginia Food and Drink Law and related regulations. Contact the Food Safety Experts of the Virginia Department of Health at FoodSafety@vdh.virginia.gov for the latest guidance and information on food safety.

  
Step 5

Federal Taxes

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a Tax Identification Number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They use the number to identify which taxpayers will need to require business tax forms as well as personal. The EIN allows businesses to file tax returns, apply for a business bank account, apply for a business loan, get certain permits or licenses, as well as reporting payroll, FICA, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. Companies like Amazon and Etsy will often require sellers to register with an EIN.

TIP: Self-employed businesses or sole proprietors are encouraged to get an EIN from the IRS instead of using your personal Social Security Number (SSN) for the business.

  
Step 6

County Permits

All businesses located in Prince William County, including home-based businesses, must comply with the County's Zoning Ordinance.

Home-Based Business – If you are planning to start a business in your home you must first apply through the Prince William County Zoning Office. Here are the most common permits for home-based businesses:

  • Home Employment Certificate (HEC): A business activity conducted entirely within a single-family detached dwelling unit by residents of that unit which is clearly incidental and secondary to its principal use as a dwelling unit. Home employment is more intense than home occupation and allows customers to come to the house.
  • Home Occupation Certificate (HOC): A business activity conducted entirely within a dwelling unit by residents of that unit. Employees of the business, other than the residents, are not allowed to work at the home where the business is conducted. Home occupation is less intense than home employment and does not have customers coming to the home.
  • Home Occupation Certificate for Family Day Home (HOC2): A Family Day Home is the accessory use of a dwelling unit to provide care during only a part of the twenty-four (24) hour day for one (1) through twelve (12) children under the age of thirteen (13), when at least one child receives care for compensation, exclusive of the provider's own children and any children who reside in the home. The term “family day home” is not intended to include babysitting services of a casual, irregular nature in or outside of the child’s own home. It is also not intended to include cooperative, reciprocal childcare by a group of parents in their respective residences.

Contact Prince William County’s Department of Zoning at zoning@pwcva.gov or 703-792-7615 for more information and assistance.

Retail and Commercial Businesses – The County wants to assist you through the regulatory process to ensure your business has a positive impact on the community/neighborhood, is safe to occupy, and opens as quickly as possible.

If you do not have experience in the design and construction process, consider hiring a consultant, architect, engineer, or contractor to act as your project manager. A project manager is typically responsible for coordinating and tracking your project through the entire process: purchasing/leasing property, design, permitting, construction and inspections. Deficient project management will result in delays and additional costs to you as a business owner.

Contact Prince William County’s Department of Development Services at DDS@pwcgov.org to discuss with a project manager about the estimated project schedule and budget.

Don’t forget signage permits! Signs are subject to the Prince William County Zoning requirements and typically take up to 30 days for processing review. For questions regarding Signs or other zoning approval requirements please send an email to signs@pwcva.gov or call 703-792-6830.

Food Trucks and Peddler Solicitor Vendors – Any person desiring to act as a peddler, solicitor or itinerant vendor in Prince William County must comply with the Prince William County Police Department. For more information, please contact the Licensing Section at policedept@pwcgov.org or 703-792-4183.

  
Step 7

County Business License and Taxes

Prince William County Business License – Only businesses with expected annual gross receipts (purchases in the case of wholesale merchants) of $500,000 or more, and building trade contractors, are required to file. However, any business located in the County may file and obtain a business license and is encouraged to do so since the process ensures that you are compliant with County requirements.

For businesses with expected annual gross receipts (purchases in the case of wholesale merchants) of less than $500,000, the license tax due is $0.00.

Business Tangible Property Tax – Each business must file annually a Business Tangible Personal Property Return declaring a summary of property cost values by purchase year. The business tangible personal property tax is levied on all general office furniture and equipment, machinery and tools, equipment used for research and development, heavy construction equipment, computer equipment and peripherals located in the County

Food and Beverage Tax – Effective July 1, 2022, any business where food and/or beverages are prepared and served to customers must remit a 4% food and beverage tax to the County. Filing is due on or before the 20th of each month for taxes collected the previous month.

Taxpayer Services Representatives are available by email at TaxpayerServices@pwcgov.org and by phone at 703-792-6710.

  
Step 8

Workforce Development

Connect with a Virginia Career Works representative to help you address your workforce needs. Post job listings, search qualified candidates and analyze labor market information.

The Virginia Employment Center (VEC) offers career assistance and employment opportunities for job seekers, employer services for businesses of all sizes, employment services for veterans, unemployment insurance benefits to eligible individuals, and other programs designed to assist with employment.

  
Step 9

Ribbon Cutting Celebration

We know that your priority is to get open quickly and cost effectively, and sometimes the grand opening planning is neglected. Our team is here to help lift the load by offering cost-free ribbon cutting events. Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development and the Prince William Chamber will manage the event logistics for your big day. Simply check-in with the Department of Economic Development to let us know about your upcoming business opening or expansion project.

  
Step 10

Networking and Marketing

Doing Business with Prince William County – If you are interested in doing business with Prince William County, check out the Procurement Portal, which provides access to open solicitations, current County contracts and instructions for suppliers.

State and Federal Government Contracting – The Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Center (Virginia PTAC), an APEX Accelerator, provides one-on-one advice to help businesses with government contracting at the Federal, State, and Local levels.

For State procurement and contracting opportunities, the Virginia Department of Small Business & Supplier Diversity (SBSD) provides certifications for Small, Woman-owned, and Minority-owned Businesses (SWaM), Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-owned businesses (SDV).

Prince William Office of Tourism – Visit PWC is the County's tourism initiative that provides a guide for places to eat, drink and explore here in the County. To get plugged in with local Tourism initiatives, simply check-in with the Department of Economic Development.

Prince William Chamber – Connect with business and community leaders from throughout the region, developing new customers and partnerships while sharing ideas and innovations at Chamber events and programs.

1 Million Cups Prince William – Weekly gathering for business owners to network and discuss entrepreneurial challenges. Join this peer-to-peer network for networking every Wednesday morning at Centerfuse in the City of Manassas (9071 Center St, Manassas)

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