Unless you choose to operate entirely as an independent housekeeper, starting your own cleaning business in the Commonwealth of Virginia requires you to follow certain rules and regulations for operating your business and paying taxes. As a service business, a cleaning business doesn't require much start-up capital, but you will need money to cover the expenses of operating your business, and ensuring your business is operating legally and that your liabilities are covered in the event of an accident.
Determine what kind of business your cleaning operation will be; for instance, sole proprietorship, limited partnership or limited liability company. Note that a sole proprietorship is often the easiest type of business to start, and you can always expand or change your business ownership as your business' needs change. Additionally, decide if you will run your business and perform all of the offered services yourself, or if you will hire employees.
Develop a business plan for how your business will be run, including deciding what kinds of cleaning services you will offer, who your primary clientele will be (i.e., individual homes, offices, restaurants, apartments/foreclosures), and how you will go about advertising your business and building your client base.
Apply for a fictitious name certificate that states you are "doing business as" (DBA) whatever name you've chosen for your cleaning business with your local county clerk. Note that some cities in Virginia may also require you file a copy of this certificate with the city government where you plan to do business.
Obtain a business license from your local county Commissioner of Revenue's or Administrator's office. When you apply for the license, they will advise you on any additional permits you may need in order to be in compliance with local regulations for cleaning businesses.
Register your business with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Taxation. If you are planning to hire employees, you must also apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and supply this information to the Virginia Department of Taxation.
Obtain general liability insurance for your business to cover accidents and workers compensation insurance if you will have employees. Additionally, while it is not legally required, it is often recommended you seek bonding from your insurance company as well since many business clients will not contract cleaning services that are not bonded.
Create a basic service contract that includes pricing for your cleaning services and offers scheduling options, as well as outlines how and when clients should pay you. You may wish to create a standard invoice, and develop your accounting system during this process. Open a business bank account if necessary.
Begin advertising your services and building your client base.
- Woman cleaning the house. image by maron from Fotolia.com