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Are you looking to file a LLC in California or check if your California LLC name is Available? Before you do, you’ll need to take a few steps to get your business going. Filing your California LLC Online is easier then ever before.
In a Hurry? You can file your California LLC With Incfile for $0 plus state Filing Fees
Just because you have an idea and have chosen a business name, doesn’t mean it’s available. You must first do a California Entity Search to see if your business name is available. Check out the steps below to get started.
Step 1: How to Perform a California Entity Search
Your first step is seeing if your name is available. The California Secretary of State’s website database has all of the information needed on corporations or LLCs in California
Using this system, you can run a California Entity Search to see if your chosen name is available or taken.
You can find the California Corporation Search Website Here
You have a few options when searching the California LLC search database. You can search by:
- Entity name
- Identification number
- Filing number
- Individual’s name
For the entity name or individual’s name, you can search by ‘starts with,’ ‘exact match,’ ‘keyword,’ or ‘soundex.’ The easiest way to do a California business lookup is by business name and ‘starts with’ or ‘keyword.’ This will turn up all entries that are close to the search criteria you entered.
As you filter through the results, you can click on the hyperlink to get more information. If you’re just looking to find a business name, you’ll need to find a name that’s different from any names in the search results. Make sure your California LLC name search is thorough. This avoids any delays when filing your paperwork to register a business name in California.
Step 2: How To File an LLC in California
Create California LLC Online:
Thankfully for technology, Filing an LLC in California is easier today then ever before from the comforts of your own home instead of waiting in long lines at the Corporation Commission.
On the form, you’ll need your business name, purpose, time you will be in business, and the resident agent. Many companies leave the time blank, especially if they plan to stay in business ‘forever.’ The resident agent must be a resident of California. It can be a person or a Resident Agent service that lives in California.
You can be the resident agent yourself. Keep in mind, though, your address then becomes public record, which can cause a privacy issue.
After searching the If you want to file an LLC in California, first you must come up with a different name then what is already in the database:
- Use the steps above to do a California LLC search
- Include the abbreviation LLC in the name
- Avoid the use of any government identified words in the name
- Provide proof of licensure if you have a name that includes the word ‘bank,’ or ‘attorney’ for example
After you conduct the California business lookup, you must file the Articles of Incorporation. The Articles of Incorporation create a separate entity for your business. This is separate from yourself.
The Articles of Incorporation are public information. Anyone can get your information including your business name, address, and stock information.
Step 3: File a California DBA
Filing a DBA is not Mandatory, but it is needed if you intend on using a different name then your LLC Name. Some people choose to use a catchy California DBA name for their business instead of a long form LLC name.
You can search to see if your California DBA name is available through the California Secretary of State site just like you did for the LLC.
Register Your California DBA Online:
Swytfile offers a very affordable way to file your California DBA online for $99 Plus State Filing Fees
All LLCs must register its DBA or assumed name with the California department of state. The DBA or ‘doing business as’ name registers the business name under your LLC’s name. It’s required for anyone doing business in a name other than the legal LLC name.
Just like you did when you filed for the LLC, you’ll do a California business search for the DBA name in the California SOS Database. Search by entity name to determine if the name you chose is available. The name your LLC operates as must be unique. Searching with the ‘starts with’ or ‘keyword’ filter chosen will provide the best results for your California DBA search.
Step 4: Buy Your Domain Name and Hosting Plan
Once You have registered your LLC and DBA and verified that your Domain Name is available, it is important to purchase your ideal Domain Name and Hosting Plan after completing your California Business Name Search.
You can sign up for a FREE domain Name through NameCheap with qualified Hosting Plan.
Step 5: Operating Agreement (Optional)
Occasionally, LLC’s need an Operating Agreement to outline who makes decisions for the business if there are multiple people involved in the business. The agreement helps protect the members of the LLC from lawsuits. It also helps put all agreements in writing. With all operational agreements in writing, there’s no risk of confusion.
Legalzoom has the best online Operating Agreement’s from our experience. They have some options starting at $99.
Without an Operating Agreement, the state of California’s operating rules would rule should there be an issue. This is typically not a good idea since the laws are generic. They don’t have laws for each industry/business type.
Operating agreements including information such as:
- Ownership breakdown by percentages
- Rights and responsibilities of each owner
- Financial breakdown including profit distribution
- Meeting obligations
- Rules for buyouts and selling, including in the event of an owner’s death
The state of California doesn’t need an Operating Agreement for LLCs, but it’s always advisable. You can download a free template online or ask your attorney to draw one up for you.
STEP 6: File an EIN (Tax ID) for California LLC
To open a business bank Account you will need a EIN/TaxID Number. You can file your California TAX ID online through IncFile for $70
The EIN is also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number. This number is the equivalent of your personal social security number for your business. You need an EIN if you:
- Operate as a corporation or partnership
- File employment tax returns
You can apply for an EIN online or by faxing or mailing in the EIN form
As long as you have your EIN, you’ll be able to open bank accounts in your business’s name.
Sales Tax License California
If you sell goods to consumers in California, you need a sales tax license. The goods must be something you deliver or hand to the consumer in order to collect taxes. Any digital goods or services are not taxed in the state of California.
If you need a sales tax license, you’ll first need your federal EIN. It takes approximately 8-10 business days to receive your sales tax license. This is done through the California Department of tax website
Once you have your EIN, go to California Department of Tax Site to complete the application for your sales tax license. You’ll need the following information:
- Business identifying information
- Business activity
- Business type (LLC)
Step 7: Open Business Bank Account
You should open a separate business bank account to keep your personal and business expenses separate. A business bank account helps you both personally and as a business owner. In order to build business credit, you’ll need a bank account in your name so that you can get business credit cards.
Using business credit cards helps your business build credit so that you can take out larger loans down the road, should you want to expand or need an operating loan.
Each bank has different requirements, fees, and steps you must take. Check with several banks to make sure you get the best interest rates on your accounts. At the very least, you’ll need your federal EIN, Articles of Incorporation, and your business license.
Small Business Funding Options For California LLC
Funding your small business can be a struggle. Without funds, it’s hard to get up and running or even stay running. Just like you can borrow money for personal reasons, you can get loans for business purposes too. You’ll need to provide plenty of paperwork on your business’s finances. You must also be able to prove that you have some equity in the business (at least 20%).
If you meet these requirements, you may find funding in one of the following areas:
- Bank loan – Try getting a loan from your local bank that you do business with now. Since you have a banking relationship with them, you may have an easier time getting approved. We also recommend that you get quotes from at least three other banks. This allows you to compare loan amounts, interest rates, and fees. Expect the process to take at least a few weeks.
- SBA loan – The Small Business Administration guarantees loans for banks, which can help if you are ‘risky.’ If you don’t have a long credit history or have little equity in your business, banks may not want to finance you. With the SBA guarantee, though, the bank is guaranteed a portion of the loan should you stop making payments. This guarantee makes banks more willing to provide the funds.
- Peer-to-peer lending – Online lending opens up many doors for business owners in need of money. Peer-to-peer lending is individuals or even businesses investing in your needs. You display your need and what criteria you have and you may find an individual or a group of individuals that will fund your loan. Just watch the terms and the fees on these types of loans.
Step 8: Keeping Your California LLC Identity Private
If you want to keep your California LLC separate from your personal identity, we recommend that you use a statutory agent or registered agent. The registered agent is a third party that is the contact person for your business for any communication with the state.
You Can Sign Up for a Registered Agent Service for you California LLC Here through Incfile.
The statutory agent receives documents including:
- Service process notices
- Secretary of State documents
- Tax forms
- Other government documents and notifications
A registered agent isn’t required if you have a physical location in the state of California, but it’s a great way to keep your private information out of the eye of the public, giving you more privacy.
Benefits of Filing Your California LLC Online
It can be a nerve racking experience to finally take the leap and start your business. Most people talk about starting a business, but very few actually take action and move forward to turn their dreams into a reality. Many will start the process and perform the California Corporation search, and then give up as they find the process to be too tedious.
We have spoken with many business owners over the years and none of them have any regrets about giving their California business a shot. While many small businesses often fail, it is better to give your idea a try rather then wonder “what if” for the rest of your life.
Benefits of Opening a Business in California
- Freedom– If your business were to work out, you would be able to achieve freedom from having to report to others and ultimately have the ability to control your own destiny. This is one of best benefits business owners have shared with us over the years. Having that ability to control your hours, family time, etc is something very few people can achieve.
- Unlimited Financial Upside– When you work for other people, there are many benefits such as good health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. However one of the biggest downsides is that you are often limited in the amount of income you can make. Most employers have budgets and despite how valuable you are to the company, the amount that they will pay you is often pre-negotiated in terms of a compensation plan or salary. When you work for yourself, your income potential is truly up to you. While it may take a while to build your business, you are ultimately in charge of your own compensation and how much you want to pay yourself. The term “Eat What You Kill” is often thrown around as one of the benefits business owners share.
- Following Your Passion- For some people starting a California business is not all about the money. For instance some people leave the corporate world to start a flower shop, bakery or restaurant because they are passionate and have skills in these areas. There is great joy one can achieve when pursuing something they believe in despite making less then at a corporate job.
- Creating Jobs for Others-How cool is it to think about the possibility of not only following your passions, but also helping employ others through something you are passionate about? One of the most fulfilling aspects of starting your California LLC is having the ability to create jobs and bring employment to others. Odds are you probably have had a bad boss somewhere during your career. When you own your own business and employ others, you are able to create your own company culture, benefit structure and more.
- You Can Be Creative-When you work in the rat race, you may often feel restricted to share ideas or try new things. When you are your own boss, you have the ability to pivot and change directions on ideas at a moments notice. There is something freeing about having the ability to paint your own canvas any way you would like. You don’t like the color of the paint in your office? No problem! You can change them any color you like.
Taking all of the above steps will help you properly file your business in the state of California. As soon as you decide to go into business, conduct a California Entity Search to start the process of securing your business’s name before someone else takes it. Once you register the name and file your Articles of Incorporation, you are well on your way to running a business in California. We hope this article helps create your California LLC and gets your business off the ground!
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