Starting a Business in California

Want to start a business in California but not sure how? We’ll help you navigate everything you need to know.

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Essential Steps When Starting a Small Business

Making your small business dreams a reality requires some hard work. But knowing where to start can make all the difference in helping to guide the way. To get your new business up and running, you’ll need to know your way around the following:

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Filing a Business Entity

Before you open your doors, you need to file your business entity to make your business official in the state of California. First, you need to decide which business entity you’ll be filing (if you need help, you can consult this guide). Once you’ve made a decision, you can file with the California Secretary of State.

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Tax Registration

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All employers who have employees must be assigned an EIN (or Employer Tax ID) from the Internal Revenue Service.

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California Sales and Use Tax

All sellers of tangible goods are required to register for sales and use tax collection.

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California Payroll Taxes

Forms, filing instructions, and full information.

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Business Licenses & Permits

General Business Licenses

To legally operate in California, you will need to secure the appropriate licenses for your industry. You can apply for the required licenses through the Office of Business and Economic Development’s CalGold Database.

Local Permits

Your local municipality, city, or county may have additional permitting or licensing requirements. Here are some of the most commonly required permits:

  • Business License and/or Tax Permit
  • Building Permit
  • Health Permit
  • Occupational Permit
  • Zoning Permit
  • Signage Permit
  • Alarm Permit


Labor Laws in California

Businesses in California must comply with all federal hiring and labor laws. In addition, California has its own labor protections.

California Labor Laws

Visit the Department of Industrial Relations’ site for full information.

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Employer Requirements

You’re almost there! The final step in setting up your business is to determine the federal and state employer requirements.

Federal Requirements

Insurance Requirements for California

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