Maybe, after spending years making money for someone else, you’ve decided that it’s time to fire the boss and start reaping more of the rewards for your hard work. Maybe you’re a recent graduate with an MBA you’re looking to put to good use. Whatever your reason, you understand that the best career path is the one you create yourself and that means having your own business. Los Angeles is a great place to launch your business and following these steps will help ensure that it starts off on the right foot. Pay attention, even if you’re considering opening a Los Angeles law office.
- What sort of business are you looking to start?
- What does the local competition look like?
- How much money will it take to get the doors open?
- Do you have a business plan drafted?
- Do you have premises or a preferred location?
- What city codes or zoning issues will affect your ability to obtain permits and licenses required for your business?
If you already know the answers to those questions, you are ahead of the game already. Those answers will help you determine whether or not you are adequately prepared for the demands and responsibilities that accompany setting up shop in L.A.
Los Angeles is not an easy market for small businesses. Nationwide, nearly 80% of all new businesses fail within their first two years of operation and with the fierce competition that already exists in L.A., your business has to stand out. It has to have a unique voice in the community. The worst thing you can possibly do is stifle your momentum in building a solid reputation by not covering all the bases from the start.
Incorporated vs. Unincorporated Areas
There are parts of Los Angeles that are governed by the county. These are unincorporated areas. There are also parts that are governed by the city. These areas are considered incorporated. There are a total of 88 incorporated cities in LA County. Be sure you know whether or not your business is located in one of them as laws and ordinances differ between incorporated and unincorporated areas.
Registrar-Recorder or County Clerk
The first step in launching your business is to file a ficticious business name with either of the above mentioned entities, whichever applies. The name must be 100% unique. This is easily verified through either the county or the state.
Publish Your DBA
Once the business name is registered, you need to publish your DBA (“Doing Business As”) name with at least one local newspaper for a four-week run. This doesn’t need to be a major paper, just one that operates within the community of your business. Small, local papers will cost less.
Tax Registration Certificate
If you are doing business with the City (as opposed to the County), you need to obtain a Tax Registration Certificate (TRC) and either pay your business tax or get an exemption. There are several ways to get an exemption including:
- Small Business Exemption (less that $100,000)
- Non-Profit Exemption
- Entertainment and Creative Talent Exemption
State and County Permits
Your business may also require various licenses or permits. This isn’t always the case, but be certain you have checked thoroughly and establish the proper permissions to avoid fines or forced closure.
Be Well Informed
Los Angeles has a page on their website dedicated to starting a small business that has much of the information listed here and much more.