Choosing to start a new company is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s the first of many choices you’ll have to make along the path. Depending on where you reside, you may need to register your company at the state, municipal, and federal levels. This tutorial will lead you through the steps necessary to register your company in California.
California Business Registration
1. Give Your California Business a Name
There is one crucial step you must do before registering your new business: you must choose a name. While naming your new company may seem simple on the surface, it is really one of the most important and time-consuming activities you will do throughout the business launch process.
Your company’s name should be unique and capture customers’ attention, but it also conveys much more. It should provide a clear message about the things you sell and/or the services you provide. The name of your firm exposes the public to your brand and may convey a message about your company and what it stands for.
Considering Your Name
While many entrepreneurs are inclined to speed through the name process, you should take your time and investigate all naming options. Take multiple brainstorming sessions and utilize the free internet business tools available today to assist you come up with a variety of choices, narrowing them down as you go.
California Name Lookup
To search for business entities by name, use the California Secretary of State’s company search tool. You should also make sure that your name isn’t too similar to any existing firm in your state. This will assist to prevent future misunderstanding and legal problems.
It’s time to start legitimizing your firm once you’ve chosen a name that appropriately portrays your brand. These following procedures will differ based on your company structure and the legal requirements of your state. The next section will go through the various company structures.
2. Select a Business Structure for Your California Company
Now that you’ve picked a good name for your brand, it’s time to start the legalization process. Before you begin the registration procedure, you must decide which company structure is appropriate for you. Each has its own set of perks, drawbacks, and tax advantages.
The sole proprietorship
A single proprietorship is the simplest straightforward business form. This informal corporation was created for entrepreneurs who do not want to work with others. It provides no personal asset protection and does not need state filing.
If you want to use a fictitious business name rather than your surname (which is usual for sole proprietorships), you must submit a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the county where you operate. The cost of registering and renewing your California DBA varies based on the county you register in.
A general partnership, like a sole proprietorship, is an informal structure established for entrepreneurs who form a partnership with at least one other person. You and your partners’ surnames may be used for the firm, or you can get a DBA name. Profits and losses would be reported on your (and your partners’) personal tax return, and no personal assets would be protected.
The State of California requires all partnership arrangements, including general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships, to submit formal documentation.
If you do not intend to go public in the foreseeable future, a limited liability corporation (LLC) may be the best option. It provides more freedom and protects your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit.
The state of California requires all LLCs to choose an agent for service of process who will receive legal papers on their behalf. Your registered agent must be a qualified California citizen or a company allowed to do business in California. Many new LLCs choose to use a registered agent service, which costs between $29 and $300 each year.
California also needs you to follow particular name rules and submit the Articles of Organization, which include important information about your business. An operating agreement is also necessary for California LLCs.
A corporation is a kind of business entity for those who have (or want to have) shareholders. So, if you want to go public in the future, this may be the greatest alternative for you.
Corporations, like LLCs, must designate an agent for service of process (also known as a registered agent) to receive paperwork, compliance papers, and government communication on the organization’s behalf. Your agent for service of process, like an LLC, might be a professional service, a commercial organization, or a person.
In addition to a registered agent, you must submit the Articles of Incorporation with the state.
3. Determine whether your company has to be registered in California.
Once you’ve decided on your formal company structure and registered your new business name, you need check with your state to see what the criteria are for business registration. Each state has its own set of rules, which must be strictly followed.
Sole proprietorships are not required to register with the State of California in most situations. Check with your local government to discover whether your single proprietorship has to be registered at the county or municipal level.
Furthermore, certain firms (for example, sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs with no workers) are exempt from registering and filing for a Tax ID Number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), with the IRS. Even if this is not a necessity for your company, you should consider registering regardless since there are various legal and tax advantages.
Even though you are not compelled to register your firm, it is important to recognize that creating an LLC has several legal and financial advantages. Your business debts are considered personal debts if you are a single proprietorship or a partnership. This implies that in the case of a lawsuit, your personal assets might be taken. Personal protection is provided through LLCs, which legally shield your personal assets and minimize your personal liabilities.
Aside from personal protection, LLCs have various additional advantages, including:
Profit distribution, decision-making, and company management flexibility
“Flow-through” taxes permits the LLC’s revenue and costs to pass through to the owners’ personal income tax returns, with no limits on the number and type of owners.
If you don’t have the time or skills to organize your own LLC, there are a variety of trustworthy LLC filing services that may assist you. We analyzed and selected the five finest LLC registration services because we realize how difficult it can be to navigate through the thousands of accessible alternatives. Our LLC service review compares each to ensure you associate with a service that saves you both time and money.
4. Register Your California Business for Taxes
EINs are used by the IRS to identify firms for tax purposes. Every company with workers is obligated to have one. Our EIN guide will assist you in determining the EIN requirements for your company structure and will coach you through each stage of the procedure.
In addition to federal taxes, your California firm will be subject to a variety of state and local taxes. If you sell a tangible goods, for example, you may be required to register for the state’s sales and use tax. In addition, LLCs will have to pay an annual fee, and corporations will have to pay a minimum franchise tax.
5. Obtain California Business Permits and Licenses
You may be needed to apply for extra licenses and permissions in California depending on the type of your company and the county in which you operate. We suggest contacting your local and county governments or visiting the CalGold website to verify you meet all licensing requirements in your region.
Furthermore, certain businesses are governed by a federal agency and need federal licenses and/or permits. A liquor company, for example, would be subject to FDA standards and recommendations. Visit the Small Business Administration (SBA) website to learn more about federal permit requirements and costs.