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When starting a business in California, there are several laws and regulations that entrepreneurs should consider. It’s important to consult with legal professionals to ensure compliance, but here are some key areas to be aware of:

Business Structure:

  • Choose a legal structure for your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation). This decision is driven by tax goals as well as whether you have or intend to have partners.
  • Register your business with the California Secretary of State.

Business Licenses and Permits:

  • Obtain the necessary licenses and permits for your specific industry and location.
  • Check with local city and county authorities for additional requirements.

Tax Obligations:

  • Understand your state and federal tax obligations.
  • Register for a state employer identification number (EIN) if you have employees or want to be able to open a company bank account.

Employment Laws:

  • Comply with California labor laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and meal/rest break requirements.
  • Familiarize yourself with regulations related to hiring, termination, and workplace safety, especially the difference between W2 employees and 1099 independent contractors.

Zoning and Land Use:

  • Check local zoning laws to ensure your business location is compliant.
  • Verify that your business activity aligns with local land use regulations and you have obtained all required permits and licenses to operate your business.

Environmental Regulations:

  • Be aware of environmental regulations that may affect your business operations.

Intellectual Property:

  • Protect your intellectual property through patents, trademarks, or copyrights if applicable.
  • Have your employees sign proper confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreements.

Contracts and Agreements:

  • Have written contracts for business transactions, vendor relationships, customer relationships, partnerships, and employment agreements.
  • Ensure compliance with contract laws and regulations.

Consumer Protection Laws:

  • Understand consumer protection laws to avoid legal issues related to advertising, sales, and customer interactions.
  • Have appropriate terms and conditions and disclaimers of warranties to protect your business from claims by customers.

Accessibility Compliance:

  • Ensure your business is accessible to individuals with disabilities, complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Privacy Laws:

  • Comply with privacy laws, especially if you collect and handle personal information.

Health and Safety Regulations:

  • Follow health and safety regulations, especially if your business involves food, healthcare, or other regulated industries.


  • Obtain the necessary business insurance, such as liability insurance and workers’ compensation.

It’s crucial to seek legal advice to navigate the specific requirements and nuances of starting a business in California. This information is not exhaustive, and regulations may change, so staying informed is key to compliance.

By: Roy Schneider, Esq.

About the Author
Theodore J. Schneider practices in the areas of business and corporate transactions, employment law counseling, municipal and public law, real estate and land use, and homeowner associations. Ted began his legal career in 2002 when he joined the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, L.L.P. before relocating to Ventura County to join his father in practice.