FAQ-Starting a Business
Application instructions, FAQs, and other technical assistance documents are available at www.business.ca.gov/CalCompetes.aspx.
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Write a Business Plan
A business plan is written description of your business's future. Some factors to include would be your business concept, products and services, market strategies, goals as well as a financial plan.
Get Business Assistance and Training
Several free counseling resources and training programs are available such as the Small Business Association (SBA), the Small Business Development and Training Center (SBDC), the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development(GO-Biz) and the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE).
Choose a Business Location
This requires planning and research. It involves looking at demographics, assessing your supply chain, scoping the competition, considering parking needs, understanding zoning laws and staying within budget. Talk to other local business owners in the area and potential co-tenants.
Finance Your Business
Determine what you can afford. Consider hidden costs such as renovations and decorating. Find out the income and sales tax rates. Talk with the City's Planning Department to determine if permits are required. Check into local and state government economic incentives. You may even consider applying for a Small Business Loan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several ways to acquire funding including loans, investments, grants and more. For more information about the available programs, visit the SBA website.
Opportunity Fund provides small business loans (microloans) to entrepreneurs who may struggle to obtain traditional loans. For more information about microloans click here.
Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business
The legal structure of your business will determine which federal tax forms you will need to file. You can choose from Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC). For example incorporating your business or forming an LLC with the state will protect your personal assets from business debts and liabilities.
Register Your Business Name
Naming your business is an important decision. A fictitious business name statement, sometimes called "Doing Business As" or DBA, is required if the company name is different than your own. Fictitious business name statements are obtained through your local county Clerk Recorder's office. The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.
Register for State and Local Taxes
The most common types of tax requirements for small business are income taxes and employment taxes. Register your business with the state of California and the federal government for a Federal Employer Identification Number. Learn more about different tax assistance programs for small businesses.
Obtain Business Licenses and Permits
The type of business you plan to open will determine the licenses and permits needed to operate a business legally. Business licenses are obtained through your local city. Business entity registration is obtained through the California Secretary of State. Find out about other permits and licenses you may need at CalGold, a database that provides you with links and contact information for permitting and licensing agencies.
Insure Your Business
Some industries have specific insurance requirements. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent to get the right type and amount of insurance.
Understand Employer Responsibilities
Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire new employees. There are specific federal, state and local requirements regarding equal opportunity employment, employee safety and health protection, taxes and insurance.
Ready to Open Your Business
In today's world, you can essentially market your business at little or no cost. Identify the social media channels that reach your customers best including FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn (not necessarily purchasing AD space). Register your business on Google and YELP so your customers can find accurate information regarding your business hours and location. Distribute a customer newsletter via email that offers timely information about the business, special promotions or an inside look at the company. MailChimp allows small business owners to send marketing emails, automated messages and targeted campaigns to customers for free. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and network with other local business owners.
Information obtained and modified from sba.gov and business.ca.gov