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How to Start a Business in San Diego

shutterstock_241542712_2000There are more than 3 million small businesses throughout California, and being the state’s second largest city, San Diego is a major hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Golden State. There are few places better than San Diego to start a business. Between the weather, lifestyle, culture, and endless opportunity, the city offers everything a business owner could want. But the question remains: how to start a business in San Diego and how can you use business incorporation services to your advantage?

Do you have an idea or service that you think you could sell? Starting a business in San Diego isn’t as difficult as you might think. Still, to start a business in San Diego, help is always appreciated. Mostly, it just takes some patience, focus, and paperwork. Here’s an 8-step guide for those who are wondering how to form a business in San Diego and looking to become business owners in America’s Finest City.

1. Do Your Research

In the digital age, you have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips that can help you get a head start on the nuances of starting a business, from paperwork and legalities to tips and insights. Meanwhile, the San Diego Public Library is also a great place to read up and take notes in a quiet, professional setting. That should give you the basic insight on how to form a business in San Diego.

2. Visit These Offices

The U.S. Small Business Administration is your best friend when it comes to wrapping your head around how to start a business in San Diego. You can use their online resources, or visit their San Diego District Office, which hosts a variety of small business events and workshops in addition to the free materials they provide. The City of San Diego Office of Small Business also consults with startups and small businesses looking to call San Diego home. It’s also a good idea to ask about business incorporation services for startups.

While you may still be in the education phase of starting your business, you should also make a conscious effort to take advantage of any networking opportunities that these resources offer.

3. Weigh the Options

Starting a business isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t jump into it without first taking a step back and asking yourself if this is truly what you want to do. Compare the risks and benefits, the challenges and rewards, and your overall goals, before moving forward. Finally, consider gaining insight from professionals who provide the increasingly popular business formation services in San Diego.

4. Create a Business Plan

Now that you are no longer in the dark as to how to form a business San Diego, comes the fun part: your business plan. No business can operate (much less, launch) without a clear blueprint for how the business will grow. If you know someone who has strong business acumen, consider asking them to help you create your business plan, as there are many details and sections to this document. If your budget allows, you can even hire a professional small business consultant to help.

5. Give Your Business a Name

At this point, there’s a good chance you have a name for your business, and perhaps even a vision for your brand. If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine, but you will want to settle on a business name before you move forward. If your business name will be anything other than your surname, it is considered a fictitious business name and will have to be registered with the County of San Diego. Besides, if you are determined to start a business in San Diego, help and inspiration are readily available in the city itself. Visiting places like Mission Beach or even San Diego’s famous Belmont Park could help you come with a name while you unwind!

6. Choose a Legal Structure

Different business entities hold different tax liabilities. The types of business entities you will likely consider are:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership (General or Limited)
  • S Corporation
  • C Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is another step where you’ll want to seek professional advice—this time, preferably from a tax consultant, accountant, or attorney. Once you settle on a structure, you will register your business with the Secretary of State. It’s also the time to ask around and find a reliable bookkeeper in San Diego.

*This process will involve its own series of steps, depending on which entity you are creating.

7. Obtain the Necessary Business Licenses

Different types of businesses require different licenses. For example, California requires restaurant owners to complete mandatory training and obtain a California Food Handler Card. A restaurant that intends to serve alcohol also requires liquor licensing from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Additionally, there are permits and checks relating to crowd control, exits, and handling of emergencies.

The CalGold website from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development is an extremely useful tool that provides a comprehensive database of required licensing for any business entity in any industry.

8. Understand Your Taxes

Knowing how to start a business in San Diego also means knowing all the obligations that come with it. Possibly the most challenging part of being a first-time business owner is navigating the tax waters, especially when it comes time to select an office site and hire your first employees. Unless you’re extremely comfortable with interpreting tax information, it’s best to hire a San Diego tax preparer like David York’s Tax Service.

Even better, David York can assist earlier in your startup process and actually set up your business for you. Click here to see how we help new businesses sprout to life every day, all over San Diego. Let us put you on the fast track to realizing your entrepreneurial visions!