If you’re starting a business or hoping to expand the one you’ve been running for a while, forming a limited liability company (LLC) is a great way to safely set yourself up for growth. Your business doesn’t need to be large-scale to qualify, and establishing yourself in this structure doesn’t commit you to huge expenses or mountains of additional paperwork. What it does do, however, is protect you from accruing large personal debts and liabilities for your business.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about LLCs in order to determine whether or not this is the right business structure for you, and in case you decide it is, we’ll also walk through how exactly to go about getting an LLC in Virginia.

Is an LLC right for my business?

As a business owner, you want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success as you grow your company. But how do you know if an LLC is the right structure for your specific situation? This is likely the first question you have on your mind—and it’s a good one.

While almost any business can be an LLC, the structure doesn’t necessarily lend itself to every type of business equally well. An LLC is a particularly great option for individuals in these circumstances:

  • High-risk businesses: Since the LLC structure offers liability and debt protection, it is a great option for entrepreneurs in high-risk industries, like construction and agriculture. The LLC structure allows business owners to make business decisions without fear of losing their personal assets in the process.
  • Side businesses: If you’re just starting out in business and are doing it in conjunction with traditional employment, establishing an LLC allows you to create a business structure without requiring as much time and effort as some others require.
  • Tight budgets: Not only does the LLC protect your personal assets in the event that your business goes into debt, but your profits are also taxed at a lower rate than other structures, meaning more profit goes into your pocket.

No individual business structure is the right fit for every business owner, but these are three compelling reasons you should consider structuring your company as an LLC.

How to get an LLC in Virginia

Having selected the LLC as your desired business model, there are a few simple steps you’ll need to take in order to actually make it official. Here’s how you get an LLC in Virginia:

1. Choose your business name: Ensure you choose a name that is unique from other business entities by checking the State Corporation Commission database, and be sure it ends with some variant of “limited liability company” (like Limited Company, LLC, or L.L.C.). You can reserve this name for a $10 fee.

2. Choose a registered agent: A registered agent is a person or company appointed to receive mail and legal documents on behalf of your business, and ensure said documents get to you, the business owner. This person must live in Virginia and be licensed to practice law or be part of the business management team.

3. Acquire a business license, if applicable: Most businesses in Virginia are not required to obtain a business license, but businesses in some industries do need to be licensed in order to become LLCs. These include, but are not limited to, home inspection agents, real estate agents, and engineers. To check whether or not you need a business license to proceed with your application, contact your commissioner’s office.

4. File online or submit your Articles of Organization: Now you’re ready to file for your LLC! You can do this online by visiting the Virginia SCC website or submitting Form LLC-1011 by mail. Virginia has a filing fee of $100. You’ll need to include your business name and address, the name and address of your registered agent, and the name and signature of the individual filling out the form.

By this point, you’ll technically be done with the process of obtaining your LLC—but there are still a few additional steps you’ll want to take. While not legally necessary, drafting an LLC operating agreement that thoroughly outlines your business’ work, daily operations, and management team, as well as each of their responsibilities, can be beneficial. Having this document drafted and signed by all members will ensure your business team is on the same page and set up for success.

Find a bank that works for small business owners

Now that you know how to get an LLC in Virginia, you’re well on your way to a bright entrepreneurial future. Help ease the challenges, especially in the early stages of this journey, by establishing a small business banking account for your LLC.

NorthOne has created tools, resources, and services dedicated to making the financial responsibilities of business owners as easy as possible. Apply today to get started.