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Starting A Business
Starting A New Business
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Starting A New Business
Decide if you Are Ready to Start A Business
Before you start a business, you may want to assess your lifestyle, goals, family needs, and other factors.  There are several resources to help you do this assessment.
Determine if There is a Market for Your Business

Before you start a business, it is important to know whether there is a market for your product or service. Will people buy it at the price you need to sell it?  Will you be able to reach those people? There are several resources to help you do a market analysis.

Plan Your Business

Before you get your license, find a location, or buy supplies or stock, it's a good idea to plan out your business, project how much you will need and how much you will make over the next few years. 

Find a Location

There are several resources to help you find a business location in Oakland, including City staff, commercial brokers, website listings, and shopping district leaders.

Check Zoning Regulations for Your Property

For any property in which you are operating or plan to operate your business, you should find out its zoning and permitted uses, and whether you need to apply for a permit. See more detailed Zoning information under Buildings, Property, and Streets.

Decide on Your Business Structure

Every business must establish as a specific business structure, such as sole proprietor, C corporation, S corporation, partnership, or limited liability company.  Each of these different structures has important implications for your taxes, and safety of your personal wealth.  The decsion should be carefully thought out.

Register A Ficticious Name with the County

If you intend to name your firm anything other than your own name, you must file a Fictitious Business Name Statement at the Alameda County Clerk's Office.

Get an Oakland Business License

To conduct any business in Oakland you must first obtain a Business License, known as a Business Tax Certificate, and pay an annual business tax. The initial fee is $94, and then you'll pay annual taxes after that. 

Get Necessary Inspections

Certain types of businesses may require inspections by the Health Department, Police Department, or Fire Prevention & Inspection Department.  To make sure you are covered, contact the BAC and a staff member will help you determine what inspections you will need.

Get Necessary Permits & Pay Fees

There are several permits, fees, and other governmental requirements for businesses to legally operate.  Make sure you review these and make yourself legal! 

Get Your Tax & Employer Id Numbers

If you will have employees, obtain your Employer Identification Numbers

Recruit & Train Employees

There are several organizations, government agencies, and online materials to help you find, hire, and manage employees.  Check out the Employees section of this site for more information.

Get a Business Checking Account

Separate business and personal accounting is essential when you file your tax return, and it can save you money in the long run. You should get a checking account right immediately to get your business off on the right foot.



PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) is the local utility company. Make sure to contact PG&E as soon as you find your location to get all of your utilities in order.  Depending on the services you need, you may need to wait for assistance.  Better to get a request in early!  http://pge.com/

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