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How to Start a Business in Los Angeles

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As the nation’s top international trade and manufacturing center, Los Angeles County is home to over 244,00 businesses, with more minority- and women-owned businesses than any other county in the nation. Starting a business in Los Angeles can be a rewarding and thrilling experience—you can work for yourself, create your schedule, and earn an income doing what you love.

However, entrepreneurship can be challenging, especially if you don’t know how to file for a business in LA. Here’s what you need to know to succeed as a first-time business owner in LA.

Choose the appropriate business type

Before launching your business, you’ll need to choose the right business type. Because choosing the most appropriate business type can minimize your liability, lower your taxes, and ensure that you’re conducting your business efficiently, it’s critical to determine which business structure is best suited to meet the needs of your business.

For example, if you’re planning to start a cannabis business, choosing a corporate structure can help ensure that business entities remain intact and reduce your business’s tax burden. Since the laws governing cannabis business licenses vary per state, it’s important to hire an experienced business lawyer to help you choose the right business structure and raise all of the necessary considerations.

If you’re not sure where to start, McAllister Garfield, a Los Angeles cannabis lawyer, represents medical and recreational dispensaries, grows, infused-product manufacturers, and testing laboratories across the nation. The full-service law firm represents some of the leading marijuana companies in California, so you’ll be able to avoid potentially costly legal mistakes that other lawyers don’t know about.

Hiring an experienced lawyer can also relieve your burden of organizing, drafting, and filing the proper documents, including your operating and partnership agreement, within California and LA County. Additionally, your lawyer can provide legal advice and answer any questions you have on how to start a business in LA.

Register your business with the Secretary of State

Once you’ve chosen your business structure, you’ll need to register your LLC or S-Corporation with the Secretary of State. Registering your business with the Secretary of State requires determining where to incorporate your business In most cases, it’s best to choose the state where you plan to principally conduct your business.

After deciding where to form your business, search for a Registered Agent in that state. A Registered Agent is an individual or organization residing in your state of incorporation who accepts legal documents on behalf of your business. For help ensuring accuracy and finding a Registered Agent, consult your Los Angeles business law attorney before registering your business with the Secretary of State.

Apply for business licenses and permits

Every business requires some form of license or permit to operate legally, such as business licenses, seller’s permits, and zoning permits. However, licenses and permits vary depending on the business you operate. To find out what licenses and permits you need to legally operate your business, visit SBA's Business Licenses & Permits guide.

If you’re planning to open a business bank account, obtain an EIN, or Tax Identification Number, through the IRS’s website. Additionally, you’ll need to register for state and local tax purposes. While California state taxes include income tax, sales tax, and unemployment insurance tax (for employers), LA County oversees business property tax, permits, and licenses.

Invest in marketing

Taking steps to launch your business legally is necessary, but it won’t ensure the success of your business. After launching your business, it’s time to shift your focus toward building your customer base and reaching your target audience.

If you’re working with a limited marketing budget, consider investing in ringless voicemail software. Ringless voicemail allows businesses to reach a wider demographic by placing pre-recorded voicemails into the inboxes of potential customers without causing the telephone to ring. With ringless voicemail software, your business can create a powerful, cost-effective marketing campaign to acquire new customers, build a loyal customer base, and raise brand awareness.

Starting a business in LA requires thorough planning and preparation. All in all, following these steps, can help you launch your business legally and gain an edge over the competition.