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Starting Your Business

Ten Key Steps

There are several key steps to starting a business in the City of San Diego. The steps may vary according to the type of business you intend to start, but the following guide for the 10 Key Steps to Starting a Business will give you a general idea.

Note:Many of the following steps can be researched and accomplished by first visiting the respective websites listed, rather than calling or visiting agency offices.

  1. Get basic information with help from the City of San Diego Public Library.
  2. Create a business plan with help from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  3. Determine a business name and register at County of San Diego, Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s Office.
  4. Determine the legal structure of the business.
  5. Determine the Business Activity Type from the list provided by the Office of City Treasurer's Business Tax Certification application.
  6. Select a site and determine zoning and site permit requirements with help from the City’s Development Services Department. If you plan to operate out of your home, obtain information about requirements for home occupations by contacting Code Enforcement.
  7. Obtain any special licenses and permits.
  8. Get tax information from the Office of City Treasurer, the California Tax Information Center, and the Internal Revenue Service.
  9. Learn about employer responsibilities at the state and federal levels from the Employment Development Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
  10. Apply for a Business Tax Certificate(License) from the Office of the City Treasurer, Business Tax Division.

For those business start-ups that do not have access to the Internet, the Central Library and all Branch Libraries provide access to the Internet during hours the library is open.

Download a complete version of the 10 Key Steps to Starting a Business (PDF) including contact information and additional resources.

For questions or concerns, call 619-236-6700 or email