Thinking about building
your own business?
Becoming a starting entrepreneur sounds exciting, but there are many risks you are about to take on. Without any knowledge, it may be hard to navigate on where to begin or how to enter the market.
Here are some pieces of advice and steps coming from an experienced business owner:
Research + Plan
Before making any permanent actions - do some research. You’ll want to analyze the market and identify whether there is a demand for your product or service. Head over to the cityofredlands.org/business where you’ll find helpful information including demographics, economic indicators, industry statistics, etc. Use this information to familiarize yourself with the area and zero in on your target market. Who is your consumer? How much are they willing to spend? What is the best way to reach them? Study the competition by comparing yourself with similar businesses in the area, then come up with a plan to differentiate yourself.
Next, you’ll want to write a business plan. These incredibly detailed documents act as a guide through a company’s early stages by highlighting objectives and the ways in which they’ll be achieved. A sound business plan can often be the determining factor in solidifying finances from investors or lenders, so you’ll want to put some time into its creation. The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center (business-planning) offers a business planning section on their website that will “work with you step by step to identify your business objectives then develop a written plan of action to include financial, management and operational strategies over a specified timeline.”
Location + Permits
Home Office: If you plan on running a business out of your home, Redlands requires you to apply for a home occupation permit. The application is simple, asking only for general contact information as well as your business’ name and a brief description. Essentially, the city just wants to ensure that you won’t be conducting any sort of business that disturbs your neighborhood. To apply, fill out the linked application and turn it into Redlands’ Community Development Department on 35 Cajon St # 20, Redlands, CA 92373. If you have any questions, reach them by telephone at (909) 798-7555.
Building or Renting: You might consider building a new location or renting an existing space. In both cases, you will be required to submit specific permits to the city that vary according to location and industry. The city divides its permits into five categories: Building & Safety, Planning, Municipal Utilities & Engineering, Quality of Life, and Fire Department Guidelines & Standards. Each category contains various permits, so rather than attempt to list them all here, let us simplify the process by pointing you in the direction of Redlands’ One Stop Permit Center. Explain, in specifics, the type of business you plan on starting, along with the location in which you hope to start it, and the Permit Center will guide you through which applications you are required to submit. You can find the One Stop Permit Center on 35 Cajon Street Suite 15A, open weekdays from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, and closed alternate Fridays. If you have any questions you can reach them by telephone at (909) 798-7551.
Coworking space: If you are looking for something a little more flexible and a lot more cost-effective, you may want to consider a coworking space. A coworking space provides access to a desk, a business address, and a collaborative work environment for a fraction of the price it would cost to rent an office. If this option interests you, check out The Orange Space, a community-driven coworking space for entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and startups located in the heart of downtown Redlands. They offer a variety of memberships tailored to your unique needs, and the flexibility of monthly payments so you aren’t stuck in a lease. The biggest perk, however, is the network you are able develop working alongside other like-minded individuals.
Business Structure + Name Registration
If you run your business as a sole proprietorship, you can do business under your legal given name without being required to register with the state. This is a common option for many small business owners as it’s simple and allows you to start conducting business right away. Otherwise, in the state of California every business must register a Doing Business As (DBA) name in the county the business is located. You can file for your DBA by filling out the application in person or by mail with the San Bernardino County Clerk. If you choose a different business structure, such as an LLC or Corporation, your business name will automatically be registered when you file your articles of incorporation or articles of organization. There are other options available to register and protect your business name, but in the early stages it’s a good idea keep things simple and use the methods mentioned above.
Federal Tax ID (EIN)
Next, you’ll want to apply for a federal employee identification number (EIN) online through the IRS website. An EIN is a unique number used to identify your business, pay taxes, open a business bank account, and hire employees. Not all business structures require an EIN, but without it you’d be taking the risk of using your personal social security number, so it’s a smart choice to get one regardless.
Now it’s time to apply for a business license. Redlands’ requires all business owners, even those who work at home, to apply for a license through the city’s Business License Division. The process takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks, and will ask that you are prepared to present specific information like your business name, address, structure, federal employee identification number, etc. Apply through email at BusinessLicense@cityofredlands.org, or give them a call (909) 798-7557.
Business Bank Account
Now that you have your license, permits, EIN, and DBA, you are ready to open a business bank account. Opening a business account that is separate from your personal account is highly encouraged, as it simplifies accounting and provides more security. You will be provided with the standard checking, savings, and credit accounts, but you’ll also gain access to a merchant service account. A merchant service account lets you accept credit and debit transactions from customers whilst ensuring that their information will be protected. As your business becomes more established, the credit you have built on your business account will prove to be beneficial in the case that you want to make a major purchase (ex: expanding to a larger location). The process of opening an account is easy, simply go to one of our local branches and ask to begin the process.