The steps below are similar for all entity structures such as Limited Liability Companies, Corporations, Sole Proprietorships, etc. Please make sure to do research before submitting your filing. Your business may require state licensure, etc.
Step 1: Find out if your business name is available.
Visit this link: https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/
Keep in mind that you’re going to want to type in different versions of your business name to make sure that you’re not duplicating someone else’s business name.
This is also important for marketing purposes, as you do not want customers confusing your business with someone else’s company!
Step 2: Decide what kind of business structure you want.
For the purposes of continuity and clarity, this article will focus on starting a single-member LLC.
NOTE: Sole proprietors do NOT need to file with the State of California. For more information, read this article: https://calosba.ca.gov/business-learning-center/start-up/choose-a-business-structure-and-register-your-business/
Step 3: Determine your Registered Agent
If you are filing by yourself as the sole owner of your business, you will only need to worry about your own personal information. You will be the “registered agent” – this is the person who will handle all legal aspects of your business.
Step 4: Begin the filing process.
To file a business with the State of California, you’ll want to start by visiting this link: https://llcbizfile.sos.ca.gov/registration
Follow the steps indicated in the application process.
Step 5: Complete the online filing process.
For all of its complicated laws, regulations, and licensing requirements, California makes it very easy to apply for a business…and surprisingly, it’s more affordable than other states in the U.S.
Once your application is completed, make sure that you successfully go through checkout. You may want to request for a Certified Copy instead of the Filing Only option, as it’s only $5 extra.
Step 6: Wait for the Secretary of State to approve your filing.
If something goes wrong during the process, the state will reach out to you to correct any issues.
Step 7: Keep your documents safe!
Store your digital files in multiple locations on your computer, in the cloud, and print a physical copy of each to ensure that you don’t lose them. After a certain amount of time, you won’t be able to access your documents any more, and will have to request copies if you lose yours.