Steps to Start Sole Proprietorship in California
One of the simplest forms of California business entity is a sole proprietorship. So, how does the filing of sole proprietorship in California process work? It is a fact that the process for starting a sole proprietorship business is quite simple as compared to other forms of businesses like an LLC or a C-Corp. One of the advantages this type of business has over other businesses is that you are not required to register your new business with the California Secretary of State. Simultaneously, there are several state based regulations and requirements that you need to consider, so that you are able to form a new business without any glitches. The following steps will provide guidance in terms of how to start a sole proprietorship in California correctly while remaining compliant with all state regulations.
1. Choose your business name
The first step towards filing a sole proprietorship in California is choosing a business name. Every business or a brand has to have a name as this name is what your prospective customers will remember. It often creates the first impression with prospective customers and investors. A business name can also help in communicating your business strategy and the type of product or service you are offering e.g., the name Sam’s Car Rentals translates into the fact that the business offers car rentals for tourists, conference attendees, and business people.
A sole proprietorship can exist under the legal name of the owner but sometimes an owner may want to use a different name for several reasons. These can be for marketing and advertising purposes. It is important to note that the name you choose should be distinguishable from the name of any other business although it can be a close variation. At the same time, you need to ensure the name is not misleading to the public. For example, if you add L.L.C or INC. to your name then that would be misrepresentation of a sole proprietorship firm.
One of the ways to check for the originality of the business name and ensure its availability in the state of California is by conducting a business name or entity search.
2. Register your fictitious business name (DBA)
There are two types of names a sole proprietorship can opt for. One is to register the owner’s name and the second is to file a Fictitious Business Name also known as a DBA or Doing Business As. If you are thinking of filing sole proprietorship in California with any name other than your name then you will have to file a DBA. For example, Dean Johnson owns a sole proprietorship and the name of the business is Dean Johnson Plumbing then he will not be required to file a DBA. On the contrary, if he names the business as “Clear Drain Plumbing” then he will have to file a fictitious business name. A California DBA has to be filed with the city or office of the county clerk in the city or county the business is located. The filing fee will depend completely on the city or county it is being filed in. We at IncParadise can help you in filing your Fictitious Business Name (DBA) in California.
3. Get EIN
A sole proprietorship business is considered as a disregarded entity or a pass-through entity where sole proprietorship California taxes are concerned. The question is do you need an Employer Identification Number or EIN? If you start a sole proprietorship in California without any employees and if you are not filing pension plans or excise tax returns then you will not be required to apply for and obtain an EIN. You can file your taxes using your Social Security number (SSN). As a sole proprietor, you will be required to apply for an EIN with the IRS if:
- You are planning to hire employees
- You inherit or buy an existing business, which is then operated as a sole proprietorship entity
- You have a Keogh plan (tax-deferred pension plan) or a Solo 401(k) retirement plan
- You form a partnership, LLC or incorporate
4. Obtain necessary licenses and permits
Whether you start a sole proprietorship in California or any other form of business; you may need to apply for and acquire federal, state, regional or local business licenses and permits. As a sole proprietor business you may have to apply for and obtain multiple licenses and permits depending on your business activity. There are primarily two types of licenses – general and regulatory. There are certain licenses and permits that are issued only by the city office or county clerk of the place where the business is located or conducting business. The IncParadise “Business License Research Report” service is a resource that will help you in determining what licenses or permits your business may require. It also contains a list of filing instructions, supporting document requirements, and fees for all business licenses and permits for your Sole proprietorship business in California.
5. Open a bank account for your business
When you start a sole proprietorship in California, one of the important tasks is to open a business bank account. This will help you to keep your profit and losses or deposits and expenses separate from your personal banking account. When you maintain a separate bank account for business, it will also ensure you are able to file sole proprietorship California taxes properly. Secondly, having a business bank account can add to your professionalism and credibility as a business. One of the advantages of having a separate bank account for the business is that you will be able to accept credit card transactions wherever necessary as well as a point of sale system. You will be able to open a bank account using your fictitious business name (DBA) and the EIN, although rules and regulations vary from one state to another.
6. Report and pay taxes
One of the important aspects to consider when filing a sole proprietorship in California is the business tax. It is true that as a sole proprietor, the entire process of taxation is simple as you and your business are considered a single entity by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As a result, you will have to file sole proprietorship California taxes as the owner, on the income that you have earned from your business. You will be reporting income earned and losses incurred on the personal tax return form (IRS Form 1040).