Steps to Starting a Business in Sacramento County*

  • Research and plan before you start
    • Research your chosen industry or field and assess your readiness to become an entrepreneur 
    • Develop a business plan and determine your needs
    • Consult with an attorney or tax accountant to determine what type of legal structure is best for your business
    • Resources for free advice on research, business planning, financing and more
  • Research potential locations
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Learn about additional Sacramento County permits & regulations
  • Explore financing options
  • Connect to utilities
    • SMUD provides electricity in Sacramento County.
    • The Sacramento Area Sewer District serves the unincorporated areas of Sacramento County; the cities of Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, and Elk Grove; as well as portions of the cities of Folsom and Sacramento.
    • There are more than 20 water providers within Sacramento County. Visit the Sacramento County Water Agency search page to learn which one serves you.
  • 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.
  • Hire Employees
  • 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

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.