How to Start a Business in California

Starting A Business WorkBook

Free Guide on Starting a Business

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How to start a business in California
Table of Contents
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Without professional advice, starting a business may be a challenging and time-consuming process. Making your goal of becoming a business owner a reality will take time, smart preparation, and patience. We’re here to help with our guide on how to start a business in California.

To help through the steps one must take to lay a solid foundation for a successful business idea, we have developed this simple step-by-step guide.

1. Choose A Business Idea

Choose A Business Idea
There are many ideas to start a business, but spend some time investigating and researching concepts for your company. Consider your interests, talents, resources, availability, and the reasons you want to start a business at this point. In addition, consider whether your business idea would fill a need in your community and how likely it is to be a successful business idea from that perspective.

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2. Prepare A Business Plan

Prepare A Business Plan
Consider creating a business plan after choosing a concept to assess your possibilities of turning a profit. A strategy will help you better understand startup expenses, your competitors, and revenue-generating methods.

Before offering funding & financing support, investors and lenders will want to study your business plan. You may be ready by writing a plan before you begin approaching investors and lenders.

A thorough business plan is an essential step that clarifies your long-term objectives and acts as a proof of concept for the future success of your enterprise.

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A business plan, in essence, is your road map to success. Consider it as a blueprint that seeks to outlay the specifics of your company in advance so you may better prepare for the numerous problems that lie ahead.

The following questions should be attempted to be addressed in a solid business plan:

  • What kind of services or goods will your company provide?
  • What will it cost to start a firm, and where will the money come from? (self or investment)
  • Where do you want to conduct business, and who is your target customer? How big is this customer range?
  • Who will be your primary rivals?

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3. Decide Your Business Structure

Decide Your Business Structure
The following are the most typical legal structures for small businesses:

  • Corporation
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC), and
  • Sole proprietorship

Additionally, some of these structures have unique variations, such as S companies and limited partnerships. Which business organization form offers the level of liability protection you require as well as the optimum tax, financing, and financial considerations for you and your company plus ideas to start your business should be taken into account.

4. Think Of A Name

You must ensure that your LLC or corporation’s name can be distinguished from that of other business entities with the California Secretary of State’s records (SOS). On the SOS website, you can conduct a business entity name search to see whether any names are now available.

By submitting a Name Reservation Request Form, you can hold a name that is currently available for 60 days. For companies and LLCs, specific regulations apply for names (like including a word such as “LLC” for LLCs or “Corporation” for closely-held corporations).

Is your company a sole proprietorship or partnership that goes by a name other than the legal name of the owner (in the case of a sole proprietorship) or the last name of each member (in the case of a partnership)? If this is the case, you must submit a Fictitious Business Name Statement to the county clerk of the county where your company is situated.

It could be a good idea to register a business name as a domain name if you intend to conduct business online. Additionally, to make sure the name you intend to use is not the same as or excessively similar to a name already in use and prevent trademark infringement difficulties, you should conduct a federal and state trademark search.

5. Register Your Business

Register Your Business
A sole proprietorship can be formed without submitting any organizational paperwork to the state of California.


You don’t have to submit any organizational paperwork to the state of California to establish a general partnership. All partnerships should have a formal partnership agreement, even though it is not legally necessary.

The partnership agreement can be extremely helpful if the partners ever disagree. You must submit a Registration with the California SOS to establish a limited liability partnership (commonly utilized by professionals).


Articles of Organization and the appointment of an individual agent or corporate agent for service of process in California are required to establish an LLC in the state of California.

Even though it is not necessary by law, you should also draft an operating agreement to lay out the fundamental guidelines for how your LLC will function. Not even a state filing exists for the operating agreement.


You must file Articles of Incorporation with the California SOS to establish a corporation in the Golden State. Additionally, you must designate a private or corporate agent for the service of process in California (in other states, this is known as a registered agent).

You should also draft bylaws to define your corporation’s internal policies, even if this is not legally needed. The state is not notified of bylaw filings. Also required from corporations is the submission to the IRS of IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation.

6. Apply For Licenses Or Permits

Apply For Licenses Or Permits

Tax Registration:

To receive a seller’s permit in California, you must register with the Board of Equalization (BOE). On the BOE website, you can register electronically.

You must register with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) for employer withholding taxes if your business will employ people. Utilizing Employer Services Online from the EDD, you can register your business online.


You must get a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if your business entity employs people or is subject to separate taxation from you. Even while getting an EIN is not needed, there are many business justifications for doing so.

An EIN is frequently needed by banks to create an account in a company’s name, and other businesses you do business with could need one to make payments. By completing an online application on the IRS website, you can obtain an EIN. There isn’t a filing charge.

Licenses And Permits For General Business:

Every business in California needs to apply for a general business license from the city where it is situated. The county where the business is located issues the licenses and permits in cases involving unincorporated areas of the state.

Licenses And Permits Required By Law:

These include particular sectors or services as well as topics including health and safety, the environment, building, and construction. State authorities routinely grant regulatory licenses and permits. Visit the state’s CalGold website for detailed instructions on any licenses or permissions you might require.

You should visit the websites of any towns or counties where you plan to conduct business to learn more about the licenses and permits required by local regulations.

Licenses For Professions And Occupations:

These apply to professionals in a variety of disciplines. CalGold, the state’s website, has details about professional and occupational licensing.

6. Fund Your Startup Costs

Fund Your Startup CostsThe crucial part of starting a business checklist is funding. You should not be surprised to learn that you will want business capital funding to launch your firm.

The legal structure you select will depend on how you want to finance your company, so it’s crucial to properly calculate your start-up expenditures in advance. Several sources of money are available if you need them, know more about small business financing:

External Investment:

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists can provide funds, usually in exchange for a stake in your company. It is advised to think about creating a corporation if this is how you plan to raise money.

Small Business Loans:

To assist your startup business guide, many banks or lenders will provide a small business loan. Naturally, interest will need to be added to the amount borrowed, so factor those expenses into your budget. Spend extra time creating your business plan before applying for a loan because you will probably need to share it with the lender before it is granted.

Friends And Family:

Getting loans from friends and relatives can be an excellent and economical way to finance your company, cutting down on the overall interest paid. In place of or in addition to conventional bank loans, these loans may be made.

Do not accept more loans than you can repay in a fair amount of time, and always get the terms of repayment in writing before accepting any loans.


It is the practice of paying for the first expenses of your firm with only personal savings and reinvesting any early earnings into the business growth. Retaining complete control and ownership is a benefit of self-financing your company, making it a perfect option for startups with minimal initial expenditures.

Apart from all these ways, one can also opt for a business grant or government funding if your business type matches the government requirements.

8. Obtain For Insurance

Business insurance can shield your assets from the effects of unplanned calamities including legal actions for personal injury and natural disasters.

Your business may benefit from general liability insurance to defend against claims of property damage or bodily injury, or cyber liability insurance to pay legal and settlement costs in the event of a data security breach. An insurance agent can assist you in examining the various coverage options for your company.

9. Open A Business Bank Account

No matter what kind of business you establish, you should think about setting up a separate business bank account to make it simpler to keep track of your earnings and outgoings. A separate bank account is required for some business entities, such as corporations and LLCs, to maintain your liability protection.

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About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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