Want to Start a Business in California?

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This page is dedicated to the best resources for starting a business in California.

Learn more about how to start a business in California.

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Business Resources in California

Find the best resources to help create your informal business structure (sole proprietorship or partnership), corporation (S corp or C corp), limited liability company (single-member LLC or multi-member LLC), or how to file a DBA in California.

Use the following business resources in California to learn how to choose the best LLC services, file the Articles of Organization, obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and decide whether you should be your own registered agent or if you should hire a third-party registered agent service.

Becoming an Entrepreneur in California

Just Starting Out

Every California business starts out with a great idea. To get inspiration, you can try our business idea generator that can suggest businesses for you based on your interests and lifestyle.

Once you've found the perfect idea, it's time to create a game plan for your business. This step helps lay a solid foundation for the future of your company. You can move on to planning out your business with our business plan generator or simply browse our selection of startup ideas. We also have several helpful guides for planning out your business:

Coming Up With a Name

One of the most important decisions you will make for your business is coming up with a name and then seeing if it is available in California. We have several naming tools and guides to help you get started with finding the perfect name for your California startup, small business, nonprofit or corporation.

Different Types of Business Formation

A business structure refers to how a business is legally organized. The type of business structure you choose to form your business with can affect how your company is regulated, taxed, and more. Because of this, choosing the best structure for your business is an important decision to make. Below are guides on the different business structures you can choose to form your company so you can learn how to form a business that works best for you.

Forming Your California Business

Now that you’ve created a business plan, found a name and chose your California business structure, it's time to form your business. This process might seem complicated, but it doesn't have to be. And if you want to save time and have someone else handle the paperwork, you can use one of our recommended services, like ZenBusiness, which will help to form your company for you or you can form it yourself using our helpful guides and tools.

LLC Checklist

This California Checklist for Starting an LLC covers the necessary steps you need to take when you create your LLC.

Formation Necessities

Here are the required documents and forms you may need to help you get your business up and running in California.

Highly Recommended Services for Your Business

Depending on the type of business structure your choose and how large your business is, you may also want to consider using the following services for your California startup:

Registered Agent

A California registered agent is a person or business that sends and receives legal papers on behalf of your company. These documents include official correspondence like legal summons and state filing notices.

California requires every business to nominate a registered agent when forming a small business. Your registered agent must be a California resident or a corporation authorized to conduct business in that California.

We also recommend hiring a professional registered agent service to provide you with peace of mind and help you stay compliant with the law.

DBA

Filing a “doing business as” (DBA) name, also known as a fictitious business name, is an easy process that is achieved by registering a DBA with the State of California.

Branding

You can probably think of a dozen different companies in California whose brands play an important role in your daily or professional life. Maybe you only buy certain brands or prefer to buy your groceries at one supermarket chain over another. Your dedication to these companies is primarily a result of one thing: their branding. Our branding guides and tools will go over the importance of branding your small business and provide some tips for getting started.

Financing Your California Business

Small business finance is the raising and managing of funds to finance and operate a new small business. This includes banking, small business accounting, building business credit, and raising funds for your business.

When planning your California business, you should determine what types of business funding options your company will need and when. Whether you are starting a low-cost business or starting a high-growth startup, knowing when to get funding and what kind of funding you need is important.

Setting Up a Bank Account

Opening a business checking account is one of the first things you will need to do as a new business. Business banking is a fundamental asset protection requirement for every business and, depending on your needs, may include checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and merchant accounts.

Every new and small business needs a business bank account to pay their business insurance, take care of payroll, collect money, and enroll with a merchant account to accept credit card payments.

Check out our guide on the Best Banks for Small Business for help finding a banking account for your business.

Getting a Business Credit Card

Small business credit cards are designed for professional use and provide a line of credit to small businesses while helping to maintain personal asset protection. It is crucial for small businesses to have a small business credit card.

Our guides will help you understand the importance of having a small business credit card and provide the steps for finding and applying for the best credit card for your business.

Finding Small Business Loans

Getting a small business loan is done by applying with a business lender, typically your bank or another lending institution, with the right documentation and your business plan.

A business loan can help to resolve cash flow problems, leverage growth opportunities, and even increase the value of a business. Making sure to plan for a loan ahead of time is extremely important, as is knowing the documentation needed by your lender when you do apply.

Small Business Financing for Female Entrepreneurs

Grants, loans, government contracts, investors, scholarships, advisors, tutorials — there are plenty of financial resources for female entrepreneurs and women leaders, and we’ll help you discover the best ones for you and your business.

Maintaining Your Small Business

Congratulations! Fewer than 14% of Americans have realized the dream of business ownership. To keep your California business running, make sure you keep up with required government filings and maintain a clear record of all earnings and expenses.

Make Sure Your Business is Compliant

When you start a small business, you’ll need to determine if your business needs any licenses or permits to stay compliant.

Set Up Accounting and Bookkeeping

Having a business accountant will help you take advantage of tax benefits and potentially save you and your California business a lot of money in taxes each year.

Finding a business accountant as soon as you start your business will ensure that you have the best advice from the very beginning.

Recommended: Hiring an accountant can save your company thousands of dollars in taxes each year. Get a free tax consultation with 1-800Accountant.

Set Up a Business Phone

Getting a business phone number is important for many businesses. Having a phone number for your customers to contact you with can go a long way in ensuring that your business is viewed as professional, trustworthy, and legitimate. 

There are also different business phone services and answering services that can ensure that you are able to answer more than one call simultaneously and that all of your customers feel heard. Check out our different phone tools and guides to help your California business set up phone services.

Build a Business Website

With growing technology, more and more businesses are going online. We believe all companies need a website regardless of their industry or size to keep up with the times. 

So, how do you build a website? Luckily, technology has recently caught up with the massive demand for tools to simplify website creation. It’s never been easier to build your own website without the need for any web designer experience.

Our tools and guides provide an overview of the steps to build a website for your California business as well as suggestions for which tools to use based on your business type and knowledge level.

Business Resources for Women

Starting your own business is no small feat; thankfully, there are many valuable resources dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs start and succeed. From woman-owned business certification to grants for female entrepreneurs, we’ll help you discover the women's business resources that will help you get the most out of your entrepreneurial journey.

California Business Resources

California SBDC

The California SBDC provides a wide variety of tools, resources, and guidance to small business entrepreneurs in order for their venture to succeed in a highly competitive economic state. Technical assistance and personalized professional consulting are just some of the lined up assistance programs to help entrepreneurs. Add to that the free or low-cost training, workshops, and seminars, and you have the perfect arsenal to start a business in California.

GO-Biz

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz, is the official go-to resource for all your small business requirements. It provides a number of links to the various nonprofit and government tie-up organizations that help facilitate the startup and formation of small businesses for the entire state.

California Business Portal

When it comes to completing the assortment of requirements for starting a business, the California Business Portal should be the guide you need to have. From registration requirements to corporate filing tips to forms, samples, and fees, everything is on here. Related links relevant to the startup process are also provided in this resource.

CalGold

When it comes to completing the assortment of requirements for starting a business, the California Business Portal should be the guide you need to have. From registration requirements to corporate filing tips to forms, samples, and fees, everything is on here. Related links relevant to the startup process are also provided in this resource.

My Own Business

My Own Business offers free entrepreneurship education through courses and learning modules. With My Own Business, you can easily learn how to begin your dream business and go through all the steps with free resources, from starting it up to plans of expansion. Each of the courses is divided into several parts with relevant lessons for optimal learning.

Easy Bay Score

The office of the East Bay SCORE provides small business entrepreneurs with the proper resources and personalized business counseling so that startups are off to a good start. The East Bay SCORE also schedules regular free workshops and seminars on various aspects of setting up your business. To boot, the counseling and mentoring that the business experts of SCORE provide not only give valuable advice, but also a clear cut direction as to how to bring your business to success.

SBA Learning Center

The SBA Learning Center is the ideal environment to learn as much as you can as a startup entrepreneur. It provides a host of various learning courses that help entrepreneurs on different areas of running a business. From how-to courses on federal contracting to writing a business plan to basic accounting, the SBA Learning Center has got it covered.

California Secretary of State Business Programs

For all aspects related to your business requirements in California, the state’s Business Programs directory is a great source. From information you need to learn about business programs in general to forms, sample forms, and filing fees for each requirement to processing times for these obligations, you can find everything on here.

Small Business California

Small Business California is a pro-active and non-partisan business organization whose main goal is to improve the overall health of California’s small business industry. To address the needs of small business owners and improve the business environment, SB-Cal provides entrepreneurs with the needed resources to start, grow and expand their business. It also conducts annual surveys to know the progress of small businesses in the state as well as provide current and up-to-date business news.

Solano

The Solano College Small Business Development Center is a government initiative under America’s Small Business Development Center. It is one of the 900 SBDC’s set-up in the entire county that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs, start and manage their growing startup to success. Some of the services offered by Solano include small business assistance ranging from affordable to free services, workshops, a 12-Week Small Business Training Program, a small business library, free advice and mentoring and so much more.

Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority is a business advocacy organization that focuses on helping startups solve common small business problems. The organization further assists small business owners by providing them with the resources and tools that they need. Small Business Minority aims to build two things: income and independence for target populations such as women, minorities, youth, veterans and immigrants.

California Small Business Association

California Small Business Association is a volunteer and non-profit organization with the primary goal to give small business owners a voice in California as well as the federal government. The association is a strong advocate of small business issues, making sure that they are addressed in and efficient and timely manner. They also provide entrepreneurs with useful resources and information.

SBDC

America’s Small Business Development Centers is a nationwide network of associations that provide total small business assistance in the whole country and its territories. Primarily, the SBDC aims to provide free of charge, expert one-on-one business consulting services and low-cost business training and workshop events. More importantly, it is SBDC’s goal to provide small businesses with the requisite tools and resources to remain relevant in a highly competitive business market.

California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

The California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program’s main goal is to provide the necessary funding to small businesses by way of loans to ensure that they can start their business sans the capital access barrier. An overview of the program, criteria for qualifying for the said financing option, and other information pertinent to the program are also discussed.

Tech Coast Angels

Tech Coast Angels is recognized as one of the largest angel investment companies in the country, and has long been established with a reputation for providing startup entrepreneurs with a variety of assistance options aside from investing in hundreds of startup companies. Tech Coast Angels also establishes critical business connections, hands-on mentoring, helps raise additional venture capital funds, and more.

Band of Angels

Band of Angels is a seed funding company that is composed of high-tech executives who are looking for fresh, cutting-edge companies that show promise. The selection process to seed funding takes place every month with three startups for consideration and screened using the Band Deal Selection Process. Entrepreneurs of the startup usually go through examination and will have the chance to be funded by the most successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

Small Business Financial Development of Orange County

The Small Business Financial Development of Orange County aims to give small businesses within the Orange County area access to much needed capital by way of state loan guarantees as well as other business development and capital programs. Special emphasis is placed on supporting small business owned by veterans, the disabled, and women.

Matter

As a premier startup accelerator, Matter provides an excellent five-month kick-off program and fosters a strong community of peers. Matter helps entrepreneurs by providing the necessary investment, the office space, and a highly collaborative group to become successful. Matter’s boot-camp program is designed in a way to ready startups to raise funds as soon as demo day is finished.

Y Combinator

Y Combinator is a seed funding company that pays for your startup expenses while you’re getting on your feet. Through the Y Combinator program, the startup is moved to Silicon Valley and enrolled in a 3-month program where Y Combinator will work intensively with them to get the business going and to polish their elevator to investors. Twice a year, Y Combinator invests a fixed amount of money into a number of startups to accomplish this.

Upwest Labs

Upwest Labs is an early-stage investor committed to helping fearless entrepreneurs build innovative, cutting-edge companies. Upwest Labs believes that more than just securing the startup’s funding, it is the long-term growth that’s even more important. With this in mind, Upwest Labs provides an ecosystem where everything needed for a startup to success is provided.

500 Startups

Regardless if you’re just getting started or you’re in the early stages of your business, 500 Startups has the resources you need to accomplish your business goals. Through its 4-month accelerator program, you get to receive the benefits of being under the wings of 500 Startups. From excellent mentorship to hands-on meetings with business startup professionals to an awesome office space, everything will be provided by 500 Startups.

Founder Space

Founders Space is one of the leading incubators in the state and is recognized by Forbes as one of the top ten. As an incubator, Founders Space provides a comprehensive startup program taught by industry experts. This incubator company also has a large network of advisors, lawyers, marketing professionals and more to assist startup entrepreneurs. A free coworking space is also a given if you’re part of the Founders Space group.

Idealab

Idealab was initially created to make, build and run companies that defy the status quo. Idealab also has creative office spaces that are ideal for startups with up to 20 employees or so. The full-service office space has a unique and vibrant setting to inspire you to succeed and develop collaborations. Plus, excellent support services to cap it off.

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