Steps for Successful Startups

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Photo Credit: WV Commerce Communications

Step 1:  Prepare for Success

Taking the proper steps in the early stages of developing a business plan and your get-to-market strategy are essential in building a strong foundation for your new business endeavor. Take the time to find out if your idea is viable. Consider who will buy your product or service. Look into the current state of your industry to see if there are new opportunities. Build the competitive edge that your business idea needs to be successful in a contemporary business climate.

Step 2:  Plan Your Business

Good business planning keeps you focused, and can be the difference between failure and success.

  • Take a business planning class – A variety of organizations across West Virginia offer assistance with business planning.   Refer to the WV BusinessLink Calendar to find an online or in-person class near you! Also the West Virginia Small Business Development Center has an archive of business plan training that can be viewed on demand by entrepreneurs!
  • A great tool to start your business planning is the Lean Canvas

    Write a business plan – There are as many business planning tools available to entrepreneurs as there are business coaches in the country.One of the most commonly recommend tools used by entrepreneurs today is the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent and pivot your business model. This concept allows anyone currently in business, or starting a new business, to think through the business model of their organization, competitors, or any other enterprise.

  • Learn some of the basics by watching this informative video on Business Fundamentals by the West Virginia SBDC.
  • Talk to a business planning counselor – One of the services provided by WV BusinessLink is the ability to connect with one of our resource partners who can assist you in putting together your business plan. Several organizations throughout West Virginia offer free one-on-one sessions with trained counselors. Counselors act as sounding boards as you move from evaluating your idea to planning your business and can address a number of start-up issues, including markets, competition, operations and your business plan. When you contact a potential counselor, be specific about what information you need and what kind of business you are starting so you can be matched with the best resource. Before meeting with a counselor, it helps to think through your ideas and need to be specific about:
    • Questions that arose during your market research
    • Concerns about how your business will operate
    • Issues about competition or location
    • Potential regulatory issues that could affect your ability to operate

Step 3:  Register and License Your Business

Once you have decided the business structure you wish to form and the business name you wish to use, you must register the business with the appropriate federal, state, county and local city agencies.

The fastest, most convenient way to register your business is online through the One Stop Business Portal. You may pay the filing fees using a debit or credit card or ACH electronic check.
Online filing completes your registration with:
  • West Virginia Secretary of State
  • West Virginia State Tax Department, and
  • WorkForce West Virginia (Unemployment Compensation).
Download the Business Registration Instructions to review and/or print a hard copy of the online filing instructions for your convenience. If you have an immediate need for your business registration filing, the West Virginia Secretary of State offers Expedited Registration to accelerate the process for an additional fee. At the entrepreneur’s discretion, the work can be expedited in as little as one hour.
Note: You must register with the Internal Revenue Service to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)  Before registering your business online for an EIN, you are STRONGLY encouraged to talk to the staff at the WV One Stop. The staff members can determine if there is a name conflict with your endeavor and help you avoid it. If you register an EIN first and there is a name conflict, the business would have to immediately contact the IRS to update prior to registering for a business license from the WV State Tax Department. Save this step by reaching out to the WV One Stop early on in your business planning process.

Filing required business registrations with all the state agencies is now fast and easy through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal.

For more assistance with this portal, please contact the WV Secretary of State Business and Licensing staff at (304) 558-8000 or go online to The WV One Stop Business Portal.

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