California Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
Guide to the Law for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs in California
Here you will find some basic legal information for businesses in California. For more general information, see our Guide to the Law for Business Owners in the U.S.
If you are a sole owner of a services based business, you may be a freelancer.
1. Business Structure & Set Up
Do I need to register my business?
“Registering a business” can mean many things, including getting a local business license, or EIN, etc. See our full Guide to Business Licensing & Registration.
What is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is a type of business that operates based on both “doing good” as well as making a profit. See our Guide to California Social Enterprises for more.
2. Hiring for Your Business
When you are ready to hire help in your business, you should consider whether you will have “employees” or “independent contractors,” or both. Once you decide that you will need to know what paperwork to file, what rights your workers will have, etc.
See our full Guide to Hiring for Your Business in California.
3. Taxes & Accounting
How do taxes work for a small business?
As a small business, you actually must pay taxes 4-5 times per year, not just once! See our Guide to Business Taxes in California.
Get free accounting and invoicing tools with Wave.1NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation from this vendor if you use any of their services. Thanks for your support!
4. Business name
Can I protect my business name and prevent others from using it?
Maybe. If no other ongoing business used the name before you did, in the same industry as you, you may have rights to your business name. This is called “trademark” rights.
What is a DBA or fictitious business name statement and do I need that?
DBA stands for “doing business as,” such as if Mary and Jose want to do business as “California Graphic Design.” If they have not formed an entity, they would need to file a DBA also called fictitious business name statement with the county where they are doing business. If they have formed an entity, such as California Graphic Design, LLC, they would NOT need to file a DBA to do business as California Graphic Design.
See more at our Guide to DBA in California.
5. Business Contracts
All businesses need to have a basic understanding of how contracts work. See our Guide to Contracts for more.
6. Retail and E-Commerce
7. Business Banking
For information on bank accounts for your business, see our Legal Guide to Business Banking.
If you are looking for a business bank account that is very easy to set up and use, get a FREE checking account from Novo. 2NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation if you sign up with Novo. We stand by every company we endorse. Your purchases from these companies through our links help keep us around to provide you with free legal info! Thank you.
8. Other business law
Be sure to also read our Guide to the Law for Business Owners in the U.S.
Do you have a dispute with a customer, client, or other business? See our Guide to Resolving Business Disputes.
- See our Guide to the Law for Business Owners in the U.S.
- Check out our Small Business Resources page
- Get the new book for small business by Law Soup Media founder Tristan Blaine: Do it Like a Boss: What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know About Law and Taxes
- Check out Rocket Lawyer3NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation from Rocket Lawyer if you use any of their services. We stand by every company we endorse. Your purchases from these companies through our links help keep us around to provide you with free legal info! Thank you., which provides affordable and simple legal services for business & much more.
- Get free accounting and invoicing tools with Wave.4NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation from this vendor if you use any of their services. Thanks for your support! See our full review of Wave.
- Small business banking: We use (and love) Novo, a FREE online checking account for small business that is super easy to set up and use!5NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation from this vendor if you use any of their services. Thanks for your support!
- Get a mailing address for your business: Since we signed up for iPostal1 mail services, we have saved SO MUCH MONEY, and we love the convenience of being able to get a scanned copy of our mail no matter where in the world we are! Great for small businesses. Plans start at just $8.33 per month.6NOTE: Law Soup Media may receive compensation from this vendor if you use any of their services. Thank you for your support! See Why Your Business Needs a Mailbox Service