Obtaining a Business License
For general information or to print out the Business License Application visit the City of Ceres Website.
Filing for a Fictitious Business Name
Forms can be picked up at the Stanislaus County Clerk Recorders Office in Modesto, online at http://www.stancounty.com/clerkrecorder/clerk/how-apply-fictitious-business.shtm or you may call (209) 525-5250.
To contact the local newspaper to file a fictitious business name, call the Ceres Courier at (209) 537-5032.
State Forms, Publications & Reports
California State Board of Equalization
1515 Clay Street, Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94612
Web site: www.boe.ca.gov
Employer Required Notices
Resources are available from the California Chamber of Commerce to help you comply with California labor laws.
Small Business/Self-Employed Taxpayer & Education Office
Internal Revenue Service
Web site: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/
Ceres Chamber of Commerce members
Business Start-up Check List
1. Develop a Business Plan
Stanislaus Alliance Small Business Development Center
The Ceres Chamber of Commerce and the Stanislaus County Workforce Alliance
are working together to provide you with all types of assistance and
programs to make your business successful. One is through the advice
offered by Small Business Development Center to both current and startup businesses regarding creating or revising a business plan, marketing, sales, finance, management and human resource issue. The SBDC can help you achieve the
business success you are seeking by avoiding the daily pitfalls you may
encounter. To schedule an appointment contact the Chamber office at
(209) 537-2601 or if you wish to contact the SBDC office directly call
(209) 567-4910 or visit Small Business Development Center.
2. Choose a legal structure (form a business)
When beginning a business, you must choose which
form of business use. Legal and tax considerations enter into this
decision. The most common forms of businesses are Sole Proprietorship,
Partnership, and Corporation.
- Sole Proprietorship - An
unincorporated business that is owned by one individual. The simplest
form of business organization to start and maintain. The business has no
existence apart from the owner. Its liabilities are your personal
liabilities and you undertake the risks of the business for all assets
owned, whether or not used in the business. You include the income and
expenses of the business on your own tax return.
- Partnerships - The
relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a
trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or
skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business. A
partnership must file an annual information return to report the
income, deductions, gains, losses, etc. from its operations. Each
partner includes his or her share of the partnership's items on his or
her tax return.
- Corporations - In forming a
corporation, prospective shareholders transfer money, property or both,
for the corporation's capital stock. A corporation generally takes the
same deductions as a sole proprietorship to figure its taxable income. A
corporation also can take special deductions. The profit of a
corporation is taxed to the corporation when earned, and then is taxed
to the shareholders when distributed as dividends. However, shareholders
cannot deduct any loss of the corporation.
- S corporations - An eligible
domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation
and again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S
corporation. An S corporation generally is exempt from federal income
tax other than tax on certain capital gains and passive income. Its
shareholders include on their tax returns their share of the
corporation's separately stated items of income, deduction, loss and
credit, and their share of no separately stated income or loss.
3. Pick a business name without legal consequences
One rule in picking a name is choosing one that
relates to your business (even though some dot-coms have been successful
not following this rule, such as Amazon.com and Monster.com). If you
have the resources for a long-term branding campaign, perhaps you do not
need to follow this rule. Try to pick a name that will grow with your
business and not limit you in the future.
Watch out for trademark conflicts, not only with a
name but also with a logo or slogan. Look up current business names in
the local telephone book, local government offices, the Federal
Trademark Register, or the Secretary of State. Lastly, if it is
appropriate, obtain a trademark from the U.S. Patent & Trademark
Office to protect your business name and logo.
From a visual perspective, think about the logo and
how the logo will look on a website versus on paper. Some designs do not
look good in both formats. Also, keep your graphics standards tight to
not only portray professionalism, but to achieve consistency that
equates to strong branding.
There are exceptions, but most likely you must file a
Fictitious Business Name Statement with the county clerk. The name must
be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for a
month in the county where the principal place of business is located.
For corporations, LLCs and limited partnerships, the name of the
business must be approved by the office of the Secretary of State before
it accepts Articles of Incorporation or a Statement of Limited
4. Start-up requirements (local, state, federal):
File with the California Secretary of State
Only corporations, LLCs and Limited Partnerships
need to file with the Secretary of State's office. The Secretary of
State must approve all business names before they can be registered. For
corporations, you must file Articles of Incorporation; Limited
Partnerships use the Certificate of Limited Partnership; LLCs are
Articles of Organization.
Secretary of State Offices
- Sacramento Headquarters: 1500 11th Street, (916) 657-5448
- Fresno: 2497 West Shaw #101/102, (209) 243-2100
- Los Angeles: 300 S. Spring, (213) 897-3062
- San Diego: 1350 Front Street #2060, (619) 525-4113
- San Francisco: 235 Montgomery Street, Ste 725, (415) 439-6959
File a fictitious business name with the county
Counties need to keep track of business names to
avoid customer confusion over local businesses using the same name.
Also, customers can find out the basics of a company if they want to
file a complaint. If you do not file, most banks will not open an
account for your business and you will not be eligible to file a lawsuit
Corporations, LLCs and Limited Partnerships do not
need to file if they filed with the Secretary of State. There are
exceptions, so research this issue thoroughly. For Sole Proprietors and
Partnerships, most have to file with the county unless the last name of
the person(s) is in the business name. Again, be sure to research this
Obtaining a FEIN
A partnership or sole proprietorship must obtain a
federal employer identification number from the IRS. Corporations and
LLCs must also obtain an FEIN, but they first must file with the
Secretary of State. There is no cost for a FEIN. Use IRS Form SS-4.
Obtaining a Business License
A generic business license means just registering
with the city tax collector. Most cities in California require all
business structures to register. Some businesses, such as those that
sell alcohol or serve food, need additional licenses and permits. The
fee is different throughout the state. For more information, call your
City Tax Collector or your County Clerk's office if your location is
outside the city limits. For these agencies, look in the telephone book
Any business structure that sells tangible products
must obtain a Seller's Permit. This permit is obtained from the
California Board of Equalization, which collects taxes from retail
businesses. For more information, visit their Web site or call (800) 400-7115.
There are zoning permits, police permits, building
permits, fire certificates, state occupational licenses, export licenses
and many more. Contact the following agencies for more information:
- CalGold EPA: Call (800) GOV-1-STOP to find your local permit center
- The Office of Small Business: 916-322-5790
- The City of Ceres: (209) 537-5700 or go online at www.ci.ceres.ca.us
5. Insurance Coverage
Some of the types of insurance you might need are:
Basic/Extended Fire Insurance, Liability, Vandalism/Theft, Vehicle,
Product Liability, Malpractice, Health and Workers' Compensation.
Contact one of our Chamber of Commerce members for more information.