illustration for developing a business plan

There’s never been a better time to build and expand a business in Los Angeles. Whether you are starting your first business, chasing the next big thing, or finally acting on your dream, EWDD can help you to get your business off the ground. We understand that small businesses are the backbone of the LA economy and are committed to helping your business thrive.

The 8 Steps outlined below are your key to a successful beginning.



Step 1: Basic Information

Learn More About Starting a Business

The Small Business Administration (SBA) can answer some of the basic questions you may have about starting up your business. The Los Angeles Public Library also has many different resources that can help generate some business ideas.

If you need some hands-on assistance, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center offers free services to existing Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) firms, actively leveraging the resources of public agencies and private sector partners to connect clients to procurement opportunities and access to capital.

Step 2: Create a Business Plan

Create a Business Plan

One of the most important steps in starting a business is creating a business plan. Not only will it help you guide your company and promote growth, but most banks also require it to get a loan. The most important parts of a strong business plan are legal structure and your business name.

LEGAL STRUCTURE

Sole Proprietorship
set up to allow an individual to own and operate a business without a partner

General Partnership
must have two or more persons engaged in a business for profit

Limited Partnership
formed by two or more people, with at least one person acting as the general partner who has management authority and personal liability, and at least one person in the role of limited partner who is a passive investor with no management authority

Limited Liability Company
a hybrid business entity with a separate legal existence and generally offers liability protection to its owners

Limited Liability Partnership
partners, each licensed under California laws to engage in the practice of public accountancy, law or architecture, who have some protection against personal liability

Corporation
a separate legal entity owned by shareholders who enjoy protection from personal liability
The California Tax Service Center provides additional information on the types of business entities and associated taxes, accessible at Taxes.CA.Gov

BUSINESS NAME

Most often, a business owner forms the business under a different name (e.g. "Joe's Diner"). This is known as a "Doing Business As" (DBA). If you are forming your business in the City of Los Angeles, you can file your DBA online with the Office of the County Clerk.

If you are forming a corporation, first you need to check to see if the name you want has already been taken. The California Secretary of State can help you perform an online search.

The US Small Business Administration website also has a comprehensive set of tools to assist with the many aspects of setting a new business, including determining and completing a business plan.

Step 3: Business Registration

Business License, Tax, and Permit Information

Most new businesses require tax registration documents. You will need to obtain the necessary forms from the City and County of Los Angeles, the State of California, and from the Internal Revenue Service. Some exceptions apply, so please read all instructions carefully.

City of Los Angeles

Most businesses in Los Angeles must file an application for a Business Tax Registration Certificate (Business License). Additionally, some businesses may need police, fire and/or tobacco retailer's permits. Visit the Los Angeles Office of Finance to learn about business Registration and applications. Also read the Business Registration Requirements FAQ page for more information.

County of Los Angeles

Los Angeles County does not require a general business license for businesses located in the City. However, other permits and licenses may apply to your business (e.g. a Public Health Operating Permit for a food establishment). Visit the LACounty.gov site for more information on County permits.

State of California

Franchise Tax Board (FTB)
administers personal and corporate income and franchise taxes in California
Board of Equalization (BOE)
issues seller's permits and administers and collects state sales taxes on fuel, alcohol, tobacco, and other special taxes and fees
Employment Development Department
issues employer account numbers and administers California's payroll taxes
California Tax Service Center
determine which state taxes apply to your business
California Department of Industrial Relations
certain businesses must register or license with the State Department of Industrial Relations, review their comprehensive list of businesses and requirements

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The IRS requires that all businesses, with the exception of qualified non-profit organizations, file federal income taxes. Their Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center provides links to major business subjects, such as Business Expenses and applying for an Employer ID Numbers. There is also a section on Tax Information for Charities and Other Non-Profits.

Step 4: Permits and Licenses

Other City Forms

Depending on the type of business activity you are engaged in, your business will most likely require some permits. The CalGOLD website set up by the State of California provides a comprehensive database of all the permits required for your business (including city, county, and state), searchable by business type.

Below are websites for some of the City departments you may encounter when starting your business. Depending on your business, you may have to contact additional City departments and agencies.

Step 5: Real Estate

Move Your Business to Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles operates an online property and community finder, LocateLA, that searches for locations using filters such as incentives and demographic information to assure your business will be a perfect fit.

Search for Property in the City of Los Angeles

The Department of City Planning provides a web-based Geographic Information System called ZIMAS that allows users to retrieve comprehensive property information from across the City of Los Angeles. ZIMAS provides zoning information to ensure that any particular are has zoning regulations that accommodate your business type.

The Bureau of Engineering provides a web-based mapping application, Navigate LA, that delivers maps and reports based on data supplied by various City departments, Los Angeles County, and Thomas Bros Maps.

Buy or Lease City-Owned Property

If you are interested in buying surplus city property, leasing city-owned property, or responding to a RFP for city property management, please contact the City of LA Real Estate Services within the General Services Department.

If you are interested in the licensing or leasing of property on electrical transmission line rights of way for agricultural uses, vehicle parking, truck storage, telecommunications, or RV parking, contact the Real Estate Business Unit of the LA Department of Water and Power.

Step 6: Financing and Incentives

Business Financing

Whether you are looking for startup capital, a small business or micro loan, or considering a major projects loan to finance your business, EWDD offers a variety of opportunities available through various lenders and programs. Look through our Business Financing Programs for more information.

Business and Development Incentives

Incentives for small and large businesses are vital development tools for distressed urban communities. These programs have helped create new businesses, jobs, housing, education and healthcare opportunities for thousands of Americans through a combination of innovative tax incentives, federal grants, and partnerships. Review the various Incentive Programs for more information.

Step 7: Employment Needs

WorkSource Centers

WorkSource Centers are able to assist businesses with hiring qualified candidates, customized skills training, office resources and transition services, all confidential and most free of charge.

EWDD also offers other business related services, specific to Los Angeles. Visit our Business Services page to learn more.

State/Federal Employer Compliance and Hiring Resources

Federal and state labor regulations may apply to your business. Please contact the following entities to make sure your business is in compliance.

Step 8: Business Assistance Programs

Los Angeles Business Assistance

Below we list some of the free services available to you as a start-up business owner. You may want to seek out additional legal, financial, and accounting advisers.