STARTING A BUSINESS
GENERAL BUSINESS PLANNING
Deciding to start your own business is a big decision. It is important to make sure that you think out every step of the process before investing significant amounts of time and money into the venture. There are several business and entrepreneurship workshops and events recommended by the state to help you get started. Virginia Small Business Development Centers and VAStartup.org have more resources to guide you through the general planning process.
FORMING A LEGAL BUSINESS ENTITY
There are many reasons to form a legal business entity through which you operate your aquaculture business, including the ability to open bank accounts under the business; purchase, own, and register equipment through the business; avoid certain types of liability; and qualify for certain loans. If you choose not to create a business entity, everything will be in your own name.
If you choose to create a legal business entity, you will need to decide what kind of business entity you want to create. There are several kinds of business structures to choose between, all of which have different federal tax implications. This process involves paperwork and it is important to speak with an accountant and lawyer before choosing your business structure. If you are operating a legal business entity in Virginia, you must register with the state.
HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS PLAN
The Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC) has fact sheets available to aide new and continuing aquaculturists in developing a business plan. Helpful documents include a planning overview, a risk management factsheet, and a marketing aquaculture products factsheet. The Marine Advisory Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) publishes an annual Situation and Outlook Report, which is helpful to see the growth and trends in the shellfish culture industry. This report shows sales trends covering more than ten years of clam and oyster aquaculture in the state.
HOW TO MAKE A BUDGET
Creating a realistic budget is important for both small-scale and large-scale aquaculture operations. Consider using resources developed by the Marine Advisory Program at VIMS including the Oyster Budget User Manual, the small scale and medium scale Oyster Budget Spreadsheets, the sample small scale and medium scale Oyster Budgets, the sample Oyster Crop Budget for Hand Calculations, and the financial management of aquaculture informational sheet.