The State of California does not issue or require a generic general business license. Licenses are issued by various state agencies for specific types of business, activities, and professions. Refer to the Occupational Licensing Database for more information.
To verify if a name is already being used in California, check the Secretary of State website. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, sole proprietors, general partnerships and trade names register organizational paperwork with the Secretary of State (303-894-2200). Trade name registration with the Secretary of State does NOT establish exclusive rights. However, it is required when doing business under any name other than the first and last names of the owner(s)/organizer(s). For more information, refer to the Legal Structure chapter of the Startable Business Resource Book.
You can apply for a state tax identification number using the online form CR 100 – New Employer Registration.
Unfortunately, there are really no government grants – state or federal – available for starting a business. There are very specific targeted government grants but they rarely apply to start-ups. These grants are called Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants. SBIR grants are usually issued by a federal agency that is seeking research and development in specific areas including military weapons development, biotechnology, and other high-tech fields
The vast majority of government loans programs – state and federal – are called guaranteed loans. To apply for these loans, a business owner contacts a bank or other financial institution which applies to the government for a guarantee on the loan. There are also other forms of private financing for business owners. The Financing Chapter of the Startable Business Resource Book outlines many of these options. Before speaking to a bank or any seeking any other type of financing, a business owner should realize two important factors:
- It is very difficult to finance new businesses. The majority of financial resource for a new business will come from the personal assets of the owner and their family and friends. Banks and the government prefer to see a two or three-year business history before making a loan, regardless of the age of a business. While this does not eliminate the possibility of financing, it makes the second factor even more important.
- A complete and well-written business plan is critical to any type of financing. SBDC centers provide free one-on-one consulting to assist business owners in the writing of their business plan. The Business Plan Chapter of the Startable Business Resource Book provides a basic outline for writing a business plan.
The Startable Office of Economic Development publishes the Startable Data Book, which has a basic information guide regarding the State of California as a whole. There are over 50 local economic development offices and more than 150 chambers of commerce that frequently provide more specific local information.