10 Simple Steps
With over 3.5 million small businesses employing twice as many employees, founding a company in California without a professional business plan is like braving rush hour traffic outside San Francisco without a clear route to your destination. No serious business person does this proverbially or in reality. It’s incredibly inefficient and CA is all about efficiency because it has the nation’s largest economy.
Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Now it’s time to secure your brand name, incorporate and in the process register with the state. Currently in late 2016 this includes a mere $70 for filing an LLC and a biannual $20 ongoing compliance fee. What’s important is that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each legal structure before committing.
Take Action: As this part of starting a business in California can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick and easy incorporation guides for the most popular entities if you want to skip over to those.
First and foremost, there’s the California Competes Tax Credit which has worked wonders to attract business like yours into the warm golden hilly-folds of CA. Then there’s a plethora of other state-level subsidies, incentives and credits you can leverage once you get the regulatory side of your red tape homework out of the way.
Take Action: Hop on over to the Doing Business in California page on CA.gov through the tax service center. This should give you more than enough to get started.
Don’t worry, this part of the journey in America’s breadbasket is a) typically somewhat folded into the incorporation process and b) as smooth as a Sunday afternoon drive along the 101 for most small businesses. Make sure you check off every box on your particular list to avoid any surprises down the road.
Truth be told, no one does banking like California. No one. The sheer amount of benefits and boons to securing dedicated business checking/savings accounts is incredible. What it really comes down to is, No-Cal or So-Cal?
Wowzers, where to begin… which zip code has your name written on it? Which micro-culture fits your brand? Are you more the Bakersfield-type or Monterey? Santa Barbara or Bridgeport inland? Whether you’re entirely online or going with brick and mortar real estate, there’s 1000 reasons to locate to 1000 areas from Hornbrook to Chula Vista.
Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.
Two words, Silicon Valley. Again, NO ONE commands a bigger slice of the startup era than California. It’s famous across the globe. Grants, VCs galore, angel investor networks, mammoth CrowdFunding and Social Lending communities…dig in!
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like swim suits and organic veggies. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
No one actually knows how extensive the army of web design agencies in California really is. In some area codes there’s one on every corner, right next to an In-N-Out Burger or taco joint. The point here is that NONE will take your brand seriously in Cali (along with most others in the Milky Way at this point) without a professional website.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there aren’t too many yet. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.
Marketing in this state is as invigorating as kite surfing naked in December just off the coast north of Santa Cruz, and competitive! The good news is that there’s more than enough room for your brand to spread its wings with the help of Californians.
Take Action: The key is really getting out and engaging with your niche in a transparent and ultra-human way. Even if you’re completely online, everything you could possible need to gain an edge on modern consumerism is within probably about 5-20 miles of where you set up shop. No joke.
After steps 1 through 9 are in full swing and you’re really feeling the California Love, consider Startup Savant (which got its start in CA as well) as a powerhouse-resource for not only tools but up close and personal stories from fellow change-makers.
Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from ambitious professionals like you.
Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in California, here are the two we believe in most. With IncFile and LivePlan, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.
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