West Virginia boasts the country’s third-lowest cost of labor and ranks amongst the lowest in sales tax. With fast-growing cities and low business costs, the Mountain State provides a fantastic platform for those who want to start a new business there.
How to Start a Business in West Virginia:
1. Determine your business structure.
Choosing the right legal structure for your company is important. Your choice will have an impact on taxes, paperwork, personal liability, and your ability to raise funds.
You can choose from the following legal structures:
A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure and usually involves one individual who is solely responsible for the enterprise while a partnership is suitable for businesses with two or more owners. A corporation is a standalone entity with shareholders while a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most popular type because of minimal paperwork, flexibility, tax benefits, and simple implementation process. LLC business owners are not obligated to file a corporate tax return.
Businesses are regulated by West Virginia state laws and must be registered through the West Virginia One Stop Business Portal website that is managed by the West Virginia Secretary of State.
2. Write a business plan.
Your business plan is the foundation of your new business and will serve as an invaluable guide for how to structure, run and grow your company. The business plan must meet your needs and can fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.
The traditional plan is very detailed, takes more time to write, and is quite comprehensive while the lean startup plan is high-level and quickly written.
A strong business plan can help you get funding and makes opening a new business easier. You can consult with the West Virginia Department of Commerce that offers free business planning and consulting for small business owners in West Virginia.
3. Sign up for business banking.
Your business and personal finances must be kept separate to maintain accurate records. With a business bank account, you can easily obtain statements and access products that would not be available to you as an individual.
Best Banks for Small Business in West Virginia:
4. Seek funding.
Opening a new business often requires capital. If you are unable to fund your new business, you will need to take out a loan. There are three common ways to fund your business: commercial loans, business lines of credit and small business loans.
A popular organization that can assist you with small business loans in West Virginia is the Washington County Council on Economic Development.
5. Decide on a business name.
Make a list of names that you like and perform a Google search to find any conflicts with other West Virginia business names.
Once this is done, you will need to do a trademark search to ensure that the business name that you chose has not already been trademarked. You can perform the trademark search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Trademark Electronic Search System. These databases have a comprehensive list of business names that are registered together with their classification.
After you have confirmed that your business name is not trademarked, you need to check the West Virginia Secretary of State website to ensure that your business name is not the same or similar to another corporation registered in West Virginia.
If you are satisfied that your business name is available, you can then register it on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. You can check out our guide on How to Name a Business to assist you with naming your business.
Once you have found a suitable name, make sure to register the matching web domain and social media handles, should you wish to market your business online. You can use our How To Register a Domain Name guide to assist you with the process.
6. Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Every business needs to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Registering for an EIN is very easy—all you need to do is go to the IRS website. You can complete the application online, and save your EIN confirmation notice once you receive a number from the IRS.
7. Acquire business licenses and permits.
All businesses in West Virginia require a business registration certificate from the West Virginia State Tax Department before starting to operate. You will need separate certificates for each location of your business in West Virginia.
The state of West Virginia does not require businesses to have a statewide business license. You may, however, require a specific business license depending on the type of business that you start. You can consult with the West Virginia Association of Licensing Boards to check on specific business licenses and permits that you may require.
8. Hire employees.
To start hiring you will need to register at the West Virginia New Hire Reporting Center. Each employee will need to be registered within 20 days of starting work in accordance with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.
The West Virginia Human Rights Act protects employees against discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability.
The West Virginia Equal Pay for Equal Work Act requires all employees to be paid the same wage rate for work that requires comparable skills, effort and responsibility, irrespective of the employee’s gender.
With reference to the pre-employment screening process in West Virginia, an employer is entitled to view a job applicant’s criminal history and obtain the relevant records from the criminal justice system.
Important Posters at West Virginia Business Premises:
- Job Safety and Health Protection.
- Unemployment Insurance.
- West Virginia Minimum Wage.
- Workers’ Compensation Law.
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
- Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Child Labor Law.
- Discrimination Notice.
9. Check your business employer requirements.
Business employer requirements are specific to the type of business that you are starting and include various labor, safety and tax obligations that need to be met. You should consider hiring a tax or business attorney to ensure your business is fully compliant with the laws in West Virginia.
If you are starting a business in West Virginia, you will need to take note of the following important items:
West Virginia’s law requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. You can obtain more information at the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner website.
Health insurance isn’t a requirement for small businesses in West Virginia.
In West Virginia, your small business is required to establish an unemployment insurance account with the Workforce West Virginia. If your business is required to contribute towards unemployment insurance, you will need to file quarterly reports.
West Virginia Sales Tax
Every business selling taxable tangible personal property in the state of West Virginia is required to obtain a sales tax license and contribute to sales tax. Services rendered are not taxable. You will need to register for a sales tax license with the West Virginia State Tax Department.
Starting a business in West Virginia FAQs:
How much does it cost to start a business in West Virginia?
West Virginia articles of incorporation for LLCs cost $100.00.
West Virginia Registration and Filing Fees:
Corporation for profit
Corporation for nonprofit
You can find a comprehensive list of fees and costs here.
How do I register a business in West Virginia?
You can register your business with the West Virginia One Stop Business Portal that is managed by the West Virginia Secretary of State.
How do I start a business in West Virginia with no money?
- Use services to generate cash flow and fund a product-based business.
- Get creative to discover funding sources.
- Grind it out and look for business, even if you don't get paid for it.
- Use your current resources in different ways to generate income.
- Get a credit line to help with the early stages of your business.
- Locate an accelerator if you can hit the market swiftly.
- Crowdfund and allow the public to invest a small percentage of money in return for a future buy-in.
- Use a business incubator to provide funding designed specifically to financially assist a startup company.
How can I protect the name and logo of my business in West Virginia?
The easiest way is to register your business name on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Prior to registration, remember to check on the Trademark Electronic Search System and the West Virginia Secretary of State website to ensure that your business name is not already registered by another company.
Do I need workers’ compensation for my new business in West Virginia?
All employers in West Virginia are compelled to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees.
Does my business in West Virginia need to contribute to health insurance?
Health insurance isn’t a requirement for small businesses in West Virginia.
Browse The SMB Guide for more helpful articles for small business owners, and be sure to download our How to Start a Small Business checklist.