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On How I Finally Figured San Francisco's Small Business Registration. I think.

September 26, 2015

Unfortunately, the one Fashion Business class I took in college was more "How to Predict Trends" than "How to Actually Start a Business". So when I decided to give my passion-that-could-be-a-business a real shot, I was quite overwhelmed with the process of making this thing legit in the eyes of the city of San Francisco. File this one form with this office, but this other form should be filed first with this other office, now go give someone over there a check, publish something in a newspaper, sign away your first born child. Okay, so that last part isn't true. But the information I was finding online was so incomplete and out of order, I couldn't really get a clear understanding of the process at all. Although I'm sure there are people out there who would think this is a breeze, I'm also sure there are others like me who find this whole process totally confounding. So to those of you, I'm here to say, "You're not alone! And you can do this!"

The best thing I did was contact the  Small Business Assistance Center. I basically said, "Help! I have no idea what I'm doing!" in the contact form and got a response from a real person! They outlined the steps for me in a list form and in the correct order. From there, I was able to ask more specific questions about how to properly fill out the forms or about any other bump in the road that appeared. You can also go to the Small Business office in City Hall (room 110) and speak with someone in person. Most cities have an office like this and you can continue to find help there for other small business matters that may arise.

So here are the steps as they were relayed to me (and the order they should be completed in):

  1. Business Registration Application filed with Office of Treasurer and Tax Collector. (This is room 140 in San Francisco's City Hall)
  2. If your business name is something other than your full name followed by your trade (for example: Ana Brazaityte Jewelry), you will need to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the Office of the County Clerk. (Also in City Hall, room 168) A copy of this statement must then be printed in a local newspaper within 30 days - don't worry, you'll receive offers from papers in the mail and can compare prices - and proof of publication needs to be filed with the County Clerk.
  3.  File a New Business Registration Form with the Assessor Recorder's Office. This can be simply mailed in or emailed. 
  4. Obtain a Seller's Permit from the State Board of Equalization for your sales

Of course, be ready for some fees too. These may vary based on your situation but for me, it was $76 in the first step, $47 in the second, plus a payment for publication which I am currently unable to recall. 

Running - or even just registering - a small business is a lot of work. Remind yourself why you love what you do and keep pushing forward. 

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