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Small Business Guide

There are several key steps to launching a business in the City of Sacramento and they will vary according to the type of business you intend to start. The following guidelines will help move you in the right direction:


The business plan is the blueprint for your new venture. It acts as a guide, mapping out the course of your business. A solid business plan will help you reduce the risks commonly associated with starting a new business.

Evaluate your needs and location. Will you conduct your business out of your home? Will your new endeavor occupy an existing structure or will you build your own building? Are there available programs that can help your business get off on the right foot? These are key issues to research and questions to answer well in advance of starting a business venture.>

Resources to get you started:

Greater Sacramento Small Business Development Center


Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)



How businesses are initially set up affects income taxes and levels of personal liability. If your business is to be established as a corporation, S corporation, limited liability company or partnership, you must first register with the Secretary of State’s Corporate Legal Unit. You may also want to consult an attorney or tax accountant for more guidance.

Secretary of State’s Corporate Legal Unit



When considering where to set up your business, first determine the following:

  • Will you have vendors or customers who come to you?
  • Will your customers or vendors require parking or loading/unloading facilities?
  • Will you have employees?
  • Do you manufacture products for distribution or provide services?

Before finalizing any location plans or lease agreements, contact the City’s Community Development Department to:

  • Determine if your location is zoned for your type of business and verify if any special regulations are required.
  • Obtain a home occupation permit if you plan to operate your business from home.

Other considerations:

  • Evaluate the age of the building you’re interested in with a view to change of use, fire inspection requirements and necessary environmental or health permits. Business owners may need to make tenant improvements to legally occupy older structures.
  • Carefully research the former use of the building and determine if the proposed business will require substantial tenant improvements to comply with the change of use.
  • Determine if an initial fire inspection plus semi-annual inspections are needed to be in legal compliance. Examples of businesses requiring semi-annual fire inspections are restaurants, auto painting businesses, hotels/motels and dry cleaners.
  • Restaurants and product-manufacturing businesses may need certain environmental permits. The Sacramento County Business Environmental Resource Center (BERC) can help identify necessary permits. These services are provided free and are confidential for all businesses.

Resources to get you started:

Community Development Department

Call 311

Email for zoning:

BERC (Business Environmental Resource Center)



Financing a start-up business may require personal savings, a second income stream (such as from a full- or part-time job), help from family and friends, personal belt-tightening or a combination. External sources of financing are also options and a worthwhile first stop is the Small Business Administration (SBA) or local bank to apply for capital. Many local banks and credit unions in the area are also SBA lenders.

The SBA offers two primary loan programs: The 7(a) loan program assists start-up and existing small businesses with working capital for a variety of general business purposes. The SBA does not itself make loans, but rather guarantees loans made by participating financial institutions. The SBA 504 program is typically managed through a local certified development corporation (CDC). CDCs work with the SBA and lenders to provide financing to small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for land and buildings.

Other options for financing a business can include venture capital and angel investors for start-up and high-growth technology companies, industrial revenue bonds for manufacturers and research grants from the federal government.

Resources to get you started:

SBA – Sacramento – Loan Guarantees and Microloan Program

916-735-1700 (search: loans and grants)

California Capital – Loan Guarantees and SBA 504 Loan Program


Greater Sacramento CDC – SBA 504 Loan Program


Opening Doors – Microloan Program


VEDC – Valley Economic Development Corp – SBA 504 Program, SBA FLA Loan Guarantee, SBA MicroLoan Program, California state loan guarantee program


Other lending institutions can be found on the City’s Economic Development website and select “resources” under the quick links tab.


If you give your business a name other than your own, you must file a fictitious business name (FBN) statement with the Sacramento County Department of Finance. FBN guidelines and applications can be picked up at the Sacramento County Administration Building at 700 H St. in downtown Sacramento, or you can download the documents and apply online.

Resources to get you started:

Sacramento County Department of Finance



Once a fictitious business name has been registered with Sacramento County, a business operations tax certificate (BOT) from the City’s Revenue Division is needed. The BOT is not a license to conduct business at a specific location, but a tax levied on businesses that operate within the City of Sacramento. After filing the BOT application with the City, the Revenue Division will contact the Community Development Department to ensure that the business will be conducted in an appropriately zoned location. This process is quick and can be completed within three days.

Resources to get you started:

BOT Certificate


Or, download certificate documents.


Here are the basics:

  • Get a Tax Identification Number. If you intend to employ anyone outside of your immediate family, you must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is also known as the Employer Tax ID and may be obtained by completing form SS-4. Employers can apply for the EIN by calling 1-800-829-1040 (CALL) or online at Hiring employees also requires paying additional taxes and registering with the IRS.
  • Contact Social Security. Those who are self-employed and employers with one or more employees must pay Social Security taxes. Social Security information is available at 1-800-772-1213 or at
  • Register with the state Employment Development Department (EDD). You must register with the EDD within 15 days of hiring employees. EDD regulates state disability insurance, unemployment insurance taxes, income tax withholdings and employment training taxes. There is no employer fee to register. For more information, contact the state EDD office at or 916-654-8706.
  • Obtain Workers’ Compensation information. Workers’ compensation insurance will be needed in the event an employee is injured on the job. The State Industrial Relations Department provides information and assistance to businesses regarding workers’ compensation regulations and benefits. Visit or 1-800-736-7401.
  • Contact Sacramento Works for free employer services. Sacramento Works and its network of one-stop career centers can assist with employee recruitment and on-the-job training, and can help employers obtain tax credits on their state or federal taxes. Visit or call 916-263-4639. Sacramento Works services are provided free of charge to all businesses located in or moving to Sacramento County.

Businesses selling tangible personal property in the state of California must apply for sellers permit/resale numbers by contacting the state Board of Equalization at 800-400-7115 or at

For a complete reference of regional, state and federal permits required in California, visit


Once each year, every business in the state of California is required to submit a Business Income Tax Statement to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). For filing information, contact the FTB or a private accountant. The Franchise Tax Board can be reached at 800-852-5711 or at Business owners can also download “Striking Gold in California,” which outlines the state tax system for businesses, at


Several permits may be needed to comply with local and state building codes:

  • Building Permits call 311 or visit Community Development
    • Permits are required for all new construction and, in most cases, structural modifications, replacements and remodeling. Examples of improvements include structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical and signage.
  • Fire Inspection Permits contact the Inspection Unit at 916-808-6685 or visit the Sacramento Fire Department web page
    • Depending on the nature of the business, fire inspection might be needed for legal compliance, followed by annual fire department instructions. Examples of businesses requiring annual fire inspections include restaurants, motels, apartment buildings, auto painting, tire storage, hotels/motels and dry cleaners.
  • Revenue Special Permits contact the Revenue Division at 916-808-5852 or download a permit on the Revenue Division web page
    • The City regulates certain businesses through the issuance of special permits. Examples of businesses requiring special permits include taxi drivers, fireworks vendors, mobile food vendors and towing companies.
  • Health Permits call 916-875-8440 or visit
    • Health permits issued by the County’s Environmental Health Division, are required for most retail businesses that sell food or beverages to the public. Other businesses that require health permits include swimming pool operators, solid waste facilities, grocery vendors and well water operators.
  • Home Occupation Permits find information on the City of Sacramento Finance Department web page
    • If working from home, a permit is required.

Other helpful information:

  • Alcohol Sales call 916-419-2500 or visit for an ABC license and call 311 or visit Community Development for a special permit issued by the City
    • To sell or produce alcoholic beverages at a place of business, and ABC license is needed. The type of license and fee required depends on the type of business operation (e.g. microbrewery, tasting room, restaurant, bar, grocery store).
    • Alcoholic sales typically require a special permit issued by the City’s Community Development Department.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Access visit or call 800-514-0301
    • General publications on ADA regulations and technical assistance materials are available to help businesses evaluate their places of business for ADA access.
    • Businesses requiring information about ADA access for private buildings within Sacramento may contact the Revenue Division at the City of Sacramento
  • Gas and Electricity call 888-742-7683 or visit or call 800-743-5000 or visit
    • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is the electricity provider within the City and County of Sacramento. Contact SMUD to turn on electric service, transfer the utility bill or upgrade electric service.
    • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is the gas provider for Sacramento.
  • Water and Sewer contact 916-808-5454 or visit Utilities
    • The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities (DOU) provides services related to water, sewer and drainage.
  • Garbage and Recycling Services visit
    • Commercial solid waste services within the City are now provided by private solid waste haulers.


  1. The Sacramento Brownfields Program assists in the redevelopment of sites that may contain environmental contamination. The program provides financial and technical assistance for revitalization.

  2. Sewer Credits are available to reduce the impact fees associated with hooking up to the sanitary sewer system. This program can save businesses up to 88 percent on connection costs. Certain eligibility conditions apply:

    visit Economic Development Incentives or call 916-808-7223

  3. The Sacramento Streamline Program is a process improvement initiative designed to help project applicants save time and money during the development process. There are several new program services, including electronic plan checks, flat fees for solar and more.

  4. The Greater Sacramento Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides group training, business workshops and personal one-to-one consulting to new entrepreneurs to help them develop the management structures needed to support their businesses. In addition, the SBDC provides existing business owners – generally those with two to 25 employees and under $10 million in gross sales – with expert consulting resources from lawyers, CPAs, bookkeepers, brand and market enhancement specialists, and change management coaches. or call 916-319-4268

  5. Local Business Enterprise provides a five percent preference to businesses that reside in either the City or County of Sacramento on all City procurement opportunities under $100,000 and professional service contracts over $100,000. Please inquire about this preference when responding to a bidding opportunity.


  1. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development offers other business incentives, visit to learn more about statewide programs and opportunities

  2. The California State University Sacramento (CSUS) Center for Small Business helps area businesses through grants from community organizations. Students, under faculty supervision, assist with marketing and business plan development and financial planning.


  3. The CSUS Center for Entrepreneurship, located in Folsom Hall, provides a venture incubator for the early stages of entrepreneurial businesses. or 916-278-5258

  4. The Los Rios Community College Business and Economic Development Center provides employee training, marketing and business planning, and online education. The center also assists with import/export issues, environmental compliance, health workforce training, green workforce training and skills training for employers. or 916-563-3206

  5. The Sacramento Employee and Training Agency (SETA) connects people to jobs and business owners to quality employees. SETA is responsible for employment development programs offered through the Sacramento Works One Stop Career Centers. The Centers make employment and training services available for critical industries that are experiencing a high demand for employees. The Sacramento Career Centers are also affiliated with the Sacramento Business Information Centers (BICs). or 916-263-3800

  6. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is an association of working and retired executives and business owners who donate their time and expertise as volunteer business counselors. They provide confidential counseling and mentoring services free of charge.

  7. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was established to assist, counsel, supports and protect the interests of small business concerns. The SBA provides financial, technical and management assistance to entrepreneurs seeking to start, run and expand their businesses. The Sacramento SBA resource center offers numerous workshops and training opportunities that provide the tools and skills needed to enhance and expand businesses.

  8. The Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District (SMUD), the city’s local electric utility provider, offers energy efficiency services and other business-related incentives to support small business growth.

  9. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is the natural gas provider for Northern California, including the City of Sacramento. If your business requires natural gas, please call customer service at 1-800-743-5000 or

  10. State of California Small Business Program – Get certified with the State of California to receive bid preference as a small or disabled veteran business. To learn more visit

  11. The Northern California Business Resource Forum is a regional collaborative that has developed an Alternate Lender and Technical Assistance Resource for small businesses in the greater Sacramento region. More information on resources and funding can be found at

  12. The California Capital Women’s Business Center is committed to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses through educational workshops, one-on-one assistance, online learning, and connection with local resources.

  13. The Veteran Business Outreach Center provides specific programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, and Reserve and National Guard Members.

  14. The County of Sacramento, Contract & Purchasing Servicing Division spends more than $150 million in goods and services every year, and much of that is with local businesses.

  15. The County of Sacramento, Business Environmental Resource Center is a free, confidential, nonregulatory, and business retention resource, established in response to business requests for more compliance assistance with existing and expanding businesses and business startups.

  16. The Business Information Center exists to help and/or strengthen entrepreneurial small business endeavors throughout the Sacramento County by providing access to information, tools, and guidance needed to ensure successes. Sacramento Works’ BIC services are provided free of charge or at low cost.


Depending on your location, you can benefit from the outreach and assistance from these local business associations and improvement districts that operate in the Sacramento region.

Del Paso Boulevard Partnership

Downtown Sacramento Partnership

Florin Road Partnership

Fulton Avenue Association

Greater Broadway District

Handle District

Mack Road Partnership

Midtown Business Association

North Franklin District Business Association

Power Inn Alliance

River District

Stockton Boulevard Partnership

Sunrise Market Place

Watt Avenue District

(Being established)


California Chamber of Commerce

Carmichael Chamber of Commerce

Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce

East Sacramento Chamber of Commerce

Greater Sacramento Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce

Natomas Chamber of Commerce

North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Area Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce

Slavic American Chamber of Commerce

Other useful resources

Business licenses and permits:


Free credit report:

Nonprofit Resource Center:

Sacramento County Public Law Library:

Sacramento Public Library:



The following are telephone numbers for City Offices that might be useful to vendors wishing to do business with the City:

Sacramento City 311 (Information)

311 – Within City Limits

916-264-5011 – Outside City Limits

Business Operations Tax (Revenue Division)


City Clerk’s Office

City Hall
915 I Street, Fifth Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814


Community Development (including Animal Care)

311 or 916-264-5011

Convention Center


Department of Public Works (including Engineering Services, Facilities / Real Property, Fleet Management, Parking Services, Recycling and Solid Waste, Transportation)


Department of Utilities (including Engineering Services & Water)


Economic Development


Human Resources


Information Technology


Parks & Recreation


Police Department

(Fiscal Services)


Procurement Services Division