Congratulations! You have decided to open a business in the City of Chesapeake! Starting a business is exciting, but can be overwhelming at the same time. Instead of having someone else responsible for running the business, you are now both the employee and the employer! Start by asking yourself all the right questions.

The Chesapeake Economic Development department is prepared to help you get started. Whether its counseling, mentoring, training, financing options or finding the right location, we can provide you with the resources needed to get you started and keep you growing.


Step 1

Write a Business Plan

(Ex. Summary, Company Description, Market Analysis, Organization & Management, Service Line/Product, Marketing and Sales, Funding Request, Financial Projections, Appendix)
Here’s How

Write a Marketing Plan

Use free tools and resources to create a business plan that will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

Step 2

Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.

•  Mentoring, coaching, counseling (Not Advice!).
•  U.S. Small Business Administration
•  Hampton Roads Small Business Web Portal

Step 3

Choose a Business Location

Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

•  Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.
•  City of Chesapeake Zoning and Permitting

Step 4

Finance Your Business

Know the financing basics:

•  Small Business Loans
•  Government backed loans
•  Venture Capital
•  Crowdfunding Investors

Step 5

Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation, S Corporation, Nonprofit or Cooperative.

•  Contact an Attorney before Starting a Business
•  Business Structures

Step 6

Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Register your business name with your state government.

Brainstorm until you have several names that fit your business. Check to see if your ideas are available as domain names, then conduct a trademark search at the federal and state levels. If the name you want is already a trademark, determine if your use of the name would cause consumer confusion.

If you are structuring your business as a corporation or LLC, check with your Secretary of State to see if any of your proposed names are not available, then choose your business name.

How to Register

Step 7

Get a Tax Identification Number

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 8

Get a Tax Identification Number

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

The form of business you operate determines what taxes you must pay and how you pay them. The following are the five general types of business taxes.

•  Income Tax
•  Estimated Taxes
•  Self-Employment Tax
•  Employment Taxes
•  Excise Tax

Step 9

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Helpful Sites:

•  Opening a Business in Chesapeake
•  Applying For Licenses and Permits

Step 10

Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire and manage employees.

The City of Chesapeake has a lot of helpful information on how to open a business.

For additional information or to speak with a Business Development Manager, call 757-382-8040 or schedule a Business Chat online.


If you are a small business, woman-, minority- or veteran-owned business and would like information regarding federal and state programs to help your business grow, contact Angela Barder at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

You may also contact the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at 757-622-2312

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also provides information and tools you will need if you are thinking of starting a business.