Opening a business in California is exciting, but business owners must know about regulations, registration, licensing, permits, insurance and other requirements. Rules and regulations are hardly buzz for cocktail parties and dinner gatherings unless you’re a legal, insurance or government expert. However, as a smart business owner, you’ll figure things out and might even uncover the unusual.

Registration, licenses and permits in California

Before opening a business anywhere, licenses, registration and permits are a must. Otherwise, even a mom-and-pop pop-up shop might not take off. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is staffed with permit specialists who can answer all questions related to licensing, registration and permits. You can also get assistance for local and international imports and exports for your business. The California Business Portal has a permit section with an online permit assistance tool (CalGOLD) that covers business categories by city and county. If your business category, city or county is unlisted, you can speak with a permit specialist.

The California Code of Regulations (CCR)

In the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” working class hero Stanley Kowalski gives a briefing on the Napoleonic Code. In California, the California Code of Regulations affects business operations. A compilation of titles and regulations for agencies and businesses, CCR is published in clean online and hard copy formats. Reading and studying the state’s regulatory codes can be existential. If perplexed, you can contact GO-Biz. Legal counsel is another option Stanley Kowalski would choose. However, his character is in Louisiana and had questions about communal property.

Business insurance in California

Even small businesses need to be insured. Insurance for any business can be complex and expensive, depending on the kind of business you have. The California Department of Insurance publishes a Commercial Insurance Guide that lists different types of business insurance. However, before you choose an insurance plan, the Department of Insurance recommends a consultation with a licensed broker or agent. The Department of Insurance also publishes an online list of insurance companies and agent/broker license status. If you are an employer, a list of California insurers that provide group health coverage is on the state’s insurance website.

California employment law

California can be an employee paradise because of the laws that protect workers. Employers however, face unique challenges. Workers in California have higher levels of protection than workers in other states. For small businesses, California’s employment law can be a pitfall. For example, by law California has the second highest minimum wage. Employers are required to pay overtime for daily work exceeding eight hours and for a work week that exceeds 40 hours. Personal leaves of absence are generous, thanks to the state’s employment law. Each section of the law is written in detail on this legal website.

California’s sharing economy

California embraces the shared economy. This is where ride sharing, Airbnb and flash retail stores flourished. Uber, Lyft and Airbnb launched in San Francisco. Flash retailing popped up in Los Angeles. These app driven businesses are no-frills grassroots startups. Airbnb, for example, started with a young couple who couldn’t pay the rent. Traditional storefront businesses and private services are trying to counteract the competition. Some are making their services more mobile. Regulating businesses in the shared economy has been challenging to California and other states. Businesses not yet introduced to the shared economy might be interested in learning more.

This article was written by Linda Cameron for Small Business Pulse

For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse Los Angeles.


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