Small Business and Startup Advice

The following sections highlight government and third party websites and companies who provide services and resources for small businesses and startup companies. You will find advice on legal issues, financing, setting up your business and more in the following sections.

Please note: Via Trading believes this information to be useful and helpful in many cases, but we cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information provided by these external websites. Thank you for your understanding!

Steps to Starting a Business

From the Small Business Association

Starting a business involves planning, making financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. The following 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your new business.

  1. Write a business plan. Map out who you will start and run your business successfully.
  2. Get business assistance and training. Take advantage of available tools and free training to help you prepare and plan.
  3. Choose a business location. Select a customer-friendly location and get informed of zoning laws.
  4. Finance your business. Find government backed loans and research grants.
  5. Determine the legal structure of your business. Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.
  6. Register a business name.
  7. Get a Tax ID number. Learn which tax ID number you'll need to obtain from the IRS.
  8. Register for State and Local taxes. Register with your state to obtain your tax ID number, worker's compensation and unemployment & disability insurance.
  9. Obtain business licenses and permits. Get a list of federal, state and local permits & licenses you will need.
  10. Understand employer responsibilities. Learn the legal steps you need to take before you can hire employees.

Read all of these steps and more on the Small Business Association website!

Financing a New Business

From the Small Business Association

A huge part of starting your own business involves figuring out the financial aspect. the Small Business Association website contains information about a number of financial programs for small businesses, outlined below. The Small Business Association can facilitate loans for you with a third party lender or help you find financing options for your business. When you apply for an SBA-backed loan at your local bank or credit union, you as asking SBA to provide a guarantee that you will repay your loan as promised.

To this end, the SBA provides a Guaranteed Loan Program, a Bonding Program and a Venture Capital Program. Read more about these financing programs and what they can do for you.

The SBA also offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes including the 7(a) Loan Program, the Microloan Program and the CDC/504 Loan Program. Read more about these here.

The application process for business loans can often be intimidating. The SBA provides great information and resources to inform you of what you can expect during the business loan application process. It's also helpful to know what factors influence the decision of a lender when your application is reviewed. Find out how to apply for an SBA loan.

The Small Business Association is now the only entity from which to secure a business loan. State and local economic development agencies as well as nonprofit organizations provide low-interest loans to small business owners who may not qualify for traditional commercial loans. Read more about small business loan applications.

The SBA also provides a Loan and Grants Search Tool to help you get a list of financing programs for which you may qualify.

Small Business Certification

While you do not need a certification to legally operate your business in California, Small Business Certification does offer advantageous business opportunities like government contracts. Federal, state and governments offer business opportunities to sell billions of dollars worth of products and services. Certifying your business can help you successfully compete for government contracts that would represent a significant source of revenue for your business.

Steps to Become Certified

You must first register as a vendor with the government. This will include:
  • Obtaining a D-U-N-S number
  • Registering your business with the Central Contractor's office
  • Completing the Online Representations and Certifications Application
  • Finding the NAICS codes for your company
  • Obtaining past performance evaluations

More information about each of these steps on the Small Business Association website.

You will also need to meet the Federal government's definition of a small business. For most industries, a small business is defined in terms of the average number of employees the business has had over the past 12 months, or the average annual receipts over the past 3 years.

US small businesses typically:

  • Are organized for profit
  • Have a place of business in the US
  • Operate primarily within the US or make a significant contribution to the US economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor
  • Are independently owned and operated and
  • Are not dominant in their fields on a national basis

Small businesses may be sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations or any other legal forms.

Read more about small business eligibility requirements and small business certification benefits at the California Department of General Services.

Small Business Loans

All businesses need capital to launch or to expand. This capital may come from personal savings, friends or family or business loans.

The state of California offers the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program (SBLGP), administered by the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency in partnership with the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The program works to help businesses create and retain jobs while encouraging investment into low-to-moderate income communities.

The program helps small business get loans they may otherwise not have been able to obtain and to establish a credit history with a lender.

Small business owners that employ 500 people or less may apply for a loan through the SBLGP by contacting any of the Financial Development Corporation offices.

View offices in your area here.

For more information, visit The American Business Credit association's easy-to-follow guide about Small Business Association Loan Programs.

GoED Guide to Starting a Business

Visit their website at

The Governor's Office of Economic Development offers many resources for those looking to start a business in California.

The website includes basic checklists of steps to start your own business, and various sections on how and why to relocate an established business to California.

The GoED website also offers one-on-one assistance with experts ready to assist you in becoming a successful business owner.

Click here to find your local Small Business Development Center.

Check out the GoED's Guide to Starting a Business, featuring information and resources on:

  • Researching and planning your business. Evaluate your personal goals and build a comprehensive business plan.
  • Getting business assistance and training. Several free counseling and training programs are available to assist you in starting your own business.
  • Choosing a location. There are many important factors to consider, including what the ideal location for your business would be. Get advice about choosing your best location and complying with zoning laws in the area.
  • Financing your business. Every business needs capital to start up and/or expand. This can come from savings, home equity, friends or family or bank loans. Find federal, state and local government financing programs to help you start and grow.
  • Choosing a business structure. Your form of business determines the amount of paperwork you have to file, your personal liability and the taxes you have to pay.
  • Choosing a business name. Business name statements are obtained through your local county Clerk Recorder office - the list of contacts is available online.
  • Registering for taxes. Register with the state of CA and the federal government for a Federal Employer Identification Number and find out about corporate, payroll, income and sales tax laws.
  • Registering for permits. The type of business you have will determine the licenses and permits you need to operate this type of business legally.
  • Employer FAQ's. Learn the legal steps you will need to take to hire new employees including the specific federal, state and local requirements.

OC Business Startup

The OC Business Startup blog offers great information for those looking to start small businesses in Orange County, supplying information like:

  • Lists of Orange County Swap Meets, Farmers Markets & Crafts Fairs
  • Links to useful books on starting small resale businesses
  • A listing of wholesalers and liquidators in the Southern California area to help you source product
  • and more!

Small Business Development Centers in California

Starting a business can be a challenge but Small Business Development Centers (SBDC's) are partnerships between the government and colleges/universities administered by the Small Business Administration, that aim to give educational services to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

  • Small Business Development Centers are located in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Territories.
  • They operate state-wide or at least region-wide.
  • Each center has a director, staff members, volunteers and part-time personnel.

Small Business Development Center services include assisting small business with:

  • Financing
  • Marketing
  • Production
  • Organization
  • Engineering and technical aspects of their businesses

All services are free and confidential, and additional low training cost options are available.

Assistance is available to anyone interested in beginning a small business for the first time or expanding a small business.

Find the nearest SBDC here!

Visit the Office of Small Business Development Centers for more information.


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