Entrepreneur & Small Business Services

Welcome, Small Businesses & Self Starters!
No matter the size and industry of your company, the Gateway Region has an employment base suitable for every employer. Whether you are new to this game or a seasoned pro, a lot of planning and capital (and sweat!) goes into making your dream a reality. This section has resources to help you with all the major parts of setting up and running businesses, from getting support through funding or mentorship/counseling to finding and training employees.

Getting Started

Use the resources below to find your market, develop a business plan, secure funding and more.

Government Services

Acquire the certification and approvals you need to establish your business.

For Virginia companies considering entering international markets, there are resources available at no cost:

  • Metro Richmond Exports Initiative (MREI): Explore this pilot-program for Richmond-area companies on their website, The MREI offers area businesses: an introduction to exporting issues, trade mission and international trade show support, access to export resources, partners, and a growing network of metro area exporters and service providers.
  • Gain an International Foothold: Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) helps Virginia companies gain a profitable foothold in global markets, utilizing resources for participating companies such as sales planning, private-sector expertise, or capital resources up to $15,000 toward export related expenses
  • Trade Missions/Market Visits: Visit international markets as part of a team of like-minded Virginia companies. These trade missions include pre-planned business meetings and other services as needed such as language assistance, facilities coordination and networking receptions
  • Market Research: Classification of products for export, due diligence and shipping data, etc.
  • Global Network: More consultants located in more than 75 countries work to support Virginia’s business community and increase international sales through matchmaking, personalized market research and additional services localized for each country
  • Contact: Lee Sanderson, International Trade Manager, (804) 545-5755,

Access Capital

Looking for help to finance your project? Peruse resources below offering a range of services from basic commercial financing to SBA 504 loan programs and more.

Small Business Assistance & Community Development Financial Institutions

Venture Capital in Virginia

Venture capital in Virginia behaves similarly to angel investing. However, venture capital tends to seek later stage firms and larger investment opportunities. Below are a few key venture capital funds that serve the Gateway Region.


Recent legislation has opened up new doors for small business fundraising. “Crowdfunding” is a growing trend that enables entrepreneurs, inventors, nonprofits and established businesses to solicit funds from a “crowd” of individuals using the Internet. Contributions may be as little as $25 to $100, but with many investors combining funds (which may managed by local financial institutions), you can quickly put together capital for your product or service.

To get started:

  • What you need to know to profit from crowdfunding
  • How to choose one of 22 crowdfunding sites
  • Eight more crowdfunding sites