CA Business Facts
California is the largest and wealthiest state in the United States. Major industries include technology (Silicon Valley), entertainment (Hollywood), agriculture/farming as well as millions of small businesses.
Major companies include Google, Apple, and dozens more you would recognize.
California, while a hotbed for startups and top corporations, currently ranks #31 on Forbes Best States for Business list and is known for being more difficult to operate in as well as taxing businesses higher than most other states.
There are 3 basic options: a DBA, a Corporation or an LLC. Click here to learn more about business entities.
Picking a business name is easier said than done – many legal and business problems can arise from picking the wrong name (you can always change it later but the less times you have to do that, the better). In Step 3 we’ll show you how to search for the name in California, but we highly recommend you do the following before searching California state databases:
California business names must adhere to the following restrictions
Each state has its own requirements for registering a business. Now that you’ve chosen a business structure and picked your business name, here are the requirements to register your business in California.
Note: When registering registering a new company The Secretary of State can take several weeks to file the paperwork (California is one of the slower states in the US). You can expedite the process by hand delivering the documents directly to them or one of their field offices and paying an additional fee.
TIP: Check our order form to see how long California is currently taking to process regular and expedited orders.
DBAs are filed with the county. You’ll want to contact your local County Recorder to find out exactly what forms to submit and what they’re submission process is. You can find the local county recorder’s office by searching “YOURCOUNTY county recorder”.
Sure, you could do all the steps above or you could spend 5-10 minutes on our order form and let us take care of it while you work on more important things.
Your EIN is like your Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLC’s and optional for DBA’s (if you don’t have any employees, then it’s required). However, if you are a DBA and don’t obtain an EIN you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents so it’s typically recommended you obtain the EIN to prevent identity theft.
TIP: We will obtain your EIN for you if you we form your company.
To keep business and personal expenses separate, you should open a separate account for your business. In addition, getting business credit cards is how you begin to build a company credit profile (corporation or LLC required) and can later qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. To open the account simply call your chosen bank and inquire on the steps to open a business bank account. Typically you’ll need a) your filed paperwork b) your EIN c) a company resolution authorizing your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers or directors, etc.).
Click here to view a list of our recommended banks in our Vendor Network.
TIP: Our business formation service includes a free banking resolution for your use.
Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including: a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).
California has a very good business license portal called CalGold which we highly recommend and here is their page on taxes.
TIP: We work with a company that can obtain and prepare business licenses and permits for you. Click here to learn more.
If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both). View our “Employees & Payroll” section for help with hiring employees and processing payroll.
Review our list of recommended Payroll Providers in our Vendor Network.
There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection.
Click here to view our list of insurance providers in our Vendor Network.
Prepare the business as if someone needed to take it over and run it for you. This means have a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business. View our “Manage Your Company” section for help with systemizing and automating your business.
Now that you’ve set-up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that targets your ideal customer. View our “Marketing & Sales” section for help for more information.
DBA: your Fictitious Business Name should be valid for 5 years (unless you change company name or other information listed on the FBN) at which point you’ll need to renew it with the county.
LLC: Every 2 years you’ll need to file the “Statement of Information” which updates the state on your business address and other things.
Corporation: Every year you’ll need to file the “Statement of Information” which updates the state on your business address and other things. LLCs and Stock Corporations will pay a filing fee of $25, and Non-stock Corporations will pay a filing fee of $20.
Franchise Taxes: the California Franchise Tax board imposes a Franchise Tax on Corporations and LLC’s of a minimum of $800/year (increasing depending on revenue).
Click here to view our MyCompanyWorks Premium™ service which can automate most or your ongoing compliance tasks.
California State Taxation Departments
California State Labor and Employment Departments
California Startup Resources
Small Business Administration (SBA) California State District Office
2. SCORE Mentors
SCORE is made up of active and retired business people who volunteer their time to support startup businesses. From coaching to funding resources, finding a local SCORE mentor can save precious time and money.
3. California State Legal Statutes:
5. California Angel Investors
6. California Business News
7. California State Small Business Development Center
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