Start and Grow Your Business in TEN STEPS!

1. Structure the Business
2. Develop the Business Plan
3. Location, Location, Location!
4. Register the Business
5. Protect your Business Name
6. Finance the Business

7. Leverage City Incentives

8. Hire Your Workforce

9. Green Your Business

10. Get Industry-Specific Assistance from the City

Step 1. Structure the Business
One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how your business should be structured. There is no one legal entity that best fits all small businesses. Whether you decide to start as a sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability entity, or nonprofit depends on several factors such as ease of entity management, liability, and taxation. THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. Learn more.....

Step 2. Develop a Plan
As you decide your business structure, start to develop a business plan. A business plan defines your business goals and serves as your company's resume. Learn more...

Step 3. Location, Location, Location!
Check City Planning: Before registering your business, be sure to check with the Zoning Center to determine whether you are allowed to conduct business in the location or area you have selected. This applies even if you plan to do business out of your home.

If you have a specific address in mind, or just a general neighborhood location, the zoning staff will be able to tell you whether your type of business will be permitted there. Learn more...

Step 4. Register the Business
Once you have chosen your business entity, developed a business plan, and found your space, you are ready to register your business Learn more...

Step 5. Protect Your Business Name - "FBN" OR "DBA"
Every person who regularly transacts business in the state of California for profit under a fictitious name shall file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement, otherwise known as Doing Business As (DBA), no later than 40 days from the time he or she commences to transact such a business. Learn more...

Step 6. Finance Your Business
After developing your business plan, you should already know all your expenses, both one-time startup expenses and ongoing cash requirements. You should itemize each purchase and expense and resource its realistic cost. With cash flow in hand, you will need to find capital to finance your business. This could be in any form, including bank loans, personal savings, and family contributions. Learn more...

Step 7. Leverage City Incentives
Businesses that are located in San Francisco may qualify for a number of incentive programs, including JOBS NOW!, Enterprise Zone tax incentives and the federal Renewal Community.  These programs can realize immense potential savings for businesses. Learn more...

Step 8. Hire Your Workforce
San Francisco is home to one of the world's most talented and diverse workforces.  The City of San Francisco is here to help you find qualified candidates--some of whom might qualify you for tax incentives as well!  Learn more...

Step 9. Green Your Business
San Francisco has a worldwide reputation as an environmentally conscious city.  The City of San Francisco is committed to extending this to our businesses as well.  The Green Business Certification program provides customized assistance to help you reach your green goals. Learn more...

Step 10. Get Industry-Specific Assistance from the City
The City of San Francisco is here to help you take advantage of all the programs and services we offer.  Learn more...


Small Business Assistance Center, City Hall, Room 110, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-554-6134 Office Hours: M-F, 8 AM - 5 PM