Starting a Business

There are several key steps to launching a business in the City of Sacramento and they will vary according to the type of business you intend to start. Follow these guidelines to help you move in the right direction. 

1. Research and create a business plan

Research your chosen industry or field and assess your readiness to become an entrepreneur. Should you decide to move forward, you will need to develop a business plan for your proposed business.

Resources for free advice on research, business planning, financing and more.

2. Establish a legal business structure

Consult with an attorney or tax accountant to determine what type of legal structure is best for your business.

3. Select a location and research regulations

  • Review a map of Sacramento County and its incorporated cities.
  • Visit the County’s Parcel Viewer for jurisdiction, land use and other information on a specific address or parcel.
  • Select a potential location and research zoning regulations and existing infrastructure before signing a lease, buying a building or starting a home-based business. This step can help avoid unnecessary costs.
  • For locations in the unincorporated area of Sacramento County, contact the Planning and Environmental Review Division.
  • For locations in an incorporated city, contact that city’s Planning Department.

4. Explore options for financing a business

5. Register a Fictitious Business Name

If you plan to conduct business under a name other than your legal last name, you must file a fictitious business name with the Sacramento County Department of Finance. This applies to businesses in both unincorporated areas and incorporated cities.

6. Obtain a business license

All businesses in unincorporated Sacramento County, including home-based and internet-only companies, must get a business license. More than 20 types of business require additional special licenses. The Department of Finance Tax Collecting and Business Licensing Division offers a complete list.

Businesses located in an incorporated city, should contact that city’s Business License or Revenue Division for information on Business Licenses or Operations Tax Certificates.

7. Learn about additional Sacramento County permits & regulations

For free and confidential advice on all types of environmental permits, contact the Sacramento Business Environmental Resource Center (BERC).

8. Explore financing options

9.  Connect to utilities

10.   Build and Remodel

For locations in unincorporated Sacramento County, contact the County’s Building Permit and Inspection Division to learn what permits and inspections you may need.

For locations in an incorporated City, contact that City’s Building Department to learn about building permits and inspections.

11. Hire Employees

12. File Tax Information

  • Every business in California must submit a yearly Business Income Tax Statement to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). For filing information, contact a private accountant or the FTB.
  • All business owners in California must pay property tax on personal property or fixtures held or used for business purposes. Visit the Sacramento County Assessor’s website for more information.
  • Businesses that sell tangible property in California that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail must apply for seller’s permit/resale numbers with the State Board of Equalization.
  • All employers and self-employed individuals must pay Social Security taxes.

13. Learn more at Sacramento County’s Business Resources page

*Disclaimer: This guide does not replace the professional advice necessary to start or run a business. Sacramento County strongly encourages all businesses to seek professional legal and financial and real estate counsel when starting, expanding or relocating.