UniTel Voice has a very distinct mission when it comes to startup companies, home businesses, and small businesses. Our mission is to empower people by providing them with the tools to launch and grow their business. As such, we’ve chosen to start a blog series dedicated solely to the entrepreneurs brave enough and perhaps as Steve Jobs would say “foolish” enough to start their own business. To do this we’ve focused in on 10 states in which there has been a sizable leap entrepreneurship. Today’s blog: “How to Start a Business in California”, is all about what it takes to launch a company in the Golden State. California has long been the state were aspiring actors flock to pursue their dreams of super stardom, and young tech companies (think Google and Apple)go from working out of a garage to Fortune 500 status. However, just because California is home to movie stars and Silicon Valley, doesn’t mean every startup in California has to hot tech company or related to showbiz. There are plenty of Californian entrepreneurs launching everything form dog walking businesses to energy drink companies. We hope this quick blog provides a few useful tips on how to start a business in California.
Here are 5 things you need to know about starting a small business in the state of California:
1. Write a Business Plan for your California Startup.
If you are wondering how to start a business in California and what it takes to do so, we suggest you start with a plan. There are certainly stories of success for small businesses that had no business plan to get them off the ground. While this may be true and completely possible, we suggest that you create a business plan as the groundwork for the direction in which you wish to go. The plan could be as short as one page, but it is a good way to get all your thoughts together and figure out the best avenue to move forward on. A business plan will make you able to clearly show customers the Who, What, When, Where and How of your start up and the services you will be offering. And will also allow you to outline the goals of the company in a clear fashion, clarify the operating procedures, and describe the competitive landscape (which also includes your marketing plan). Here is a great link to help you get started!
2. Get a California State Tax Identification Number and Appropriate State Licenses and Permits
In California, small business owners are required to obtain the proper licenses and/or permits before beginning their operations. The amount of permits and licenses you will be required to have depends entirely on what type of services or products you plan to offer to your customers. The costs of these licenses will also vary depending on what kind of business it is you wish to start. Before you launch your small business in California, look at this resource that outlines exactly what it is you need to acquire as far as California identification numbers, licenses or permits for tax-registration. Here’s some helpful tax info for starting a small business in California.
3. Use Local SEO to Win California-Based Customers
No matter what type of small business you plan to start in the wonderful state of California, you will most certainly need a professional looking website for customers to use. But the design of the website isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Every good website contains content that is optimized for search engines using local search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. This allows your fellow California residents to find your business and content online easily. The best thing you can do is to give your small business presence on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ that shows your location. You will also need keywords on your site that list what city you operate out of and what services you provide. Finally, you should also list your business on local online business directories in California. Here’s a great blog that lays out the top 5 things you need to accomplish to best SEO your small businesses website for local online traffic.
4. Get a Virtual Number
Here’s where UniTel Voice comes in. When you first start a new business you want to make sure you obtain a virtual phone number that can ring back to your cell phone, home phone, work phone, or even a virtual voicemail box. The flexibility of a virtual phone number gives you the ease of moving offices, using remote workers, and running your business from your cell phone if need be. You may use a local California area code number or a toll free number for your virtual telephone number. A toll free number is always a good choice because it gives your start up business credibility from the start. A toll free number also gives your small business nationwide appeal if you wished to do business outside of just the state of California.
5. Get a Virtual Phone System
UniTel Voice is all about virtual phone systems because they allow you to sound like a big Fortune 500 company without the hassle of having to install any PBX phone system equipment. A virtual phone system gives you two distinct advantages: it gives your California start up a more professional sound and it keeps you and your business partners easily connected. For example, if someone were to call your businesses number, they would get a professional sounding menu (along the lines of: “Thank you for calling X company, press 1 for English, press 2 to speak to a customer service representative, etc.). Virtual PBX phone system extensions can directly connect callers to your cell phone, home phone, work phone, or they can go right into a virtual voicemail box. And the great thing about a virtual phone system for your small business is that it works directly with your existing phones. You don’t have to stress about the little things because there are no contracts, no setup costs, no expensive equipment that needs to be installed, no hardware to keep up with, and no software to keep updated. Because it’s a virtual PBX system, it’s entirely cloud-based and you can manage every feature online.