Business Basics

8 Steps to Starting a Business

Prepare a Business Plan
A business plan is not required to obtain a Campbell Business License, but a well-detailed plan is regarded as a valuable tool for starting a business and will provide milestones to gauge your success and for monitoring your business growth. While plans vary, the Small Business Administration (SBA) advises that every plan contain a description of the business, marketing, finances, and management. A detailed plan can facilitate raising capital and is usually required for a loan, or to attract financial investors. Online websites offer sample business plans such as:
Determine Your Business Structure
If you want to establish your business as a corporation you must contact the Corporation Division of the California Secretary of State’s Office. This office can supply you with information and forms you’ll need and the Name Availability Unit assists you in determining corporate name availability.

The Corporate Legal Unit will review and, if acceptable, file your articles, mergers and other legally required documents. Contact the State of California Secretary of State’s Office at:
  • 1230 J St.
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Ph: 916-653-6814
Find a Location for your Business
Select a space or building that meets the size, location, and investment capital outlined in your business plan. A commercial real estate broker and/or real estate attorney can assist you with site selection, lease negotiations, and formulating the lease agreement.

Verify Zoning Regulations
Before finalizing your business location or signing a lease, contact Campbell’s Planning Division to determine if your business is an eligible use for a specific location and whether any special approvals are required. All businesses must locate in areas zoned to allow that particular business activity. New business ownership or a change in building use may require modifications to bring the building up-to-current code and tenant improvements may require Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

Business Out of Your Home
Operating a business out of your home? You’ll need a home occupation permit in addition to your business license. Home occupations are permitted for limited types of businesses and contain various requirements and restrictions. Contact the Campbell Planning Division at 408-866-2140.

Finding Start Up Capital
If you are seeking funding, a well-crafted loan proposal stating who you are, how much money you’ll need, and how you plan to repay the loan will be beneficial. Here is a list of important resources:
Register a Fictitious Business Name
A fictitious business name is defined as a name that does not include surnames of all owners or a business or, in the case of a corporation, does not include the corporate name. File a fictitious business name with the Santa Clara County Clerk’s Office (before obtaining a Campbell Business License). They can be reached at 70 W. Hedding Street, East Wing, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA, 95110 or at 408-299-5688. The Campbell Express newspaper also offers this service at 334 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell, CA 95008. They can be reached also by calling 408-0374-9700.

Obtain a Business License
Applications are available in Campbell’s Finance Department. The business license registration fee varies for different types of businesses. Licenses may not be transferred or assigned. Businesses operating out of a residential location or home are also required to obtain a business license. Businesses located outside of Campbell, but doing work in Campbell (including vendors, consultants and contractors), must have a valid Campbell Business License. Charities and Public Utilities are exempt from fees. Proof of nonprofit status is required and may require Police Department and City Council approval prior to issuance. Contact the Finance Department at 408-866-2174 for more information.

Obtain Other Permits & Licenses
Building Permits
In most cases, a Campbell Building Permit is required for demolition and replacement of existing construction, additions, expansions, alterations, or remodeling, and is required for all new construction to ensure compliance with local regulations and California Building Code. Permits are issued after satisfactory plan review and inspections to verify safety and allow occupancy to open for business. Contact the Campbell Building Division at 408-866-2130. Applications can be found online.

Sign Permits
A permit is required for any sign on the outside of the building including permanent and temporary signs or banners. Contact the Campbell Planning Division at 408-866-2140.

Seller’s Permit / Resale Number
If you are engaged in business in California, intend to sell or lease tangible personal property (wholesale or retail), as well as for a temporary period lasting no longer than 30 days at one or more locations, a permit is required from the California State Board of Equalization at 250 S. Second Street, San Jose, CA 95113. Reach them by phone at 408-277-1231.

Restaurant & Food Vendor Permits
If you will be selling food, a permit is required from the County Environmental Resources Agency, Department of Environmental Health at 1555 Berger Drive, Suite 300, San Jose, CA 95112. Questions about the permit can be answered at 408-918-3400.

Sale of Alcoholic Beverages
If you will be selling alcoholic beverages, a license is required from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 119, San Jose, CA 95113. Call them at 408-277-1200.

California Department of Consumer Affairs License
Many professional businesses such as accountants, engineers, doctors, and dentists require a state license. Businesses such as barbers, cosmetologists, security services, and auto repairs are also required to obtain a state license. To find out if your business must be registered, call the California Department of Consumer Affairs at 800-344-9940

Import / Export Permit
If your business will involve the import or export of products with other countries, you may need an Import / Export Permit from the United States Customs Service at 415-782-9210.

Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You must register for an EIN, also known as a Federal Income Tax Identification Number with the State Employment Tax Office at 888-745-3886. Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 800-829-1040 with any questions.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance
You’re required to carry insurance through your own insurance agent or the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California at 877-405-4545. And for online support call 866-721-3498.

Local Utilities & Other Agencies
For permits or clearance prior to building or construction, contact the following services:
  • Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) - 800-743-5000 or 800-468-4743
  • San Jose Water Company - 408 279-7900
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District - 415-771-6000
  • West Valley Collection (trash pickup and recycling) - 408-283-9250
  • Campbell Post Offices Main Post Office
    500 W. Hamilton Ave.
    Campbell, CA
    Ph: 800-275-8777
  • Heritage Village Branch
    51 E. Campbell Ave.
    Suite 129
    Hours -  Monday through Friday, 8 - 11 a.m. and 12 - 4 p.m. (closed 11 a.m. - 12 p.m., daily)
    Ph: 408-374-0402
  • West Valley Sanitation District (waste water collection, treatment, and disposal)
    100 E. Sunnyoaks Ave.
    Campbell, CA
    Ph: 408-378-2407
  • Santa Clara County Fire Department - 408-378-4010
  • AT&T (telephone) - 800-750-2355