1. Prepare a Business Plan:
A business plan is not required to obtain a Watsonville 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. It may also assist you in qualifying for various loan programs to raise capital funds. While plans vary, the Small Business Administration (SBA) advises that every plan contain a description of the business, marketing, finances and management. On-line websites offer sample business plans such as:www.score.org/template_gallery.html, www.allbusiness.com or www.va-interactive.com/score.In addition, the
City of Watsonville has formed alliances with the local Small Business Development Center and El Pájaro Community Development Center to assist individuals with the steps towards starting their business, which includes Business Plans. For more information on the various services visit their websites: www.centralcoastsbdc.org and www.elpajarocdc.org
2. 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. 1213 J Street, Sacramento, Ca 95814. (916) 653-6814.
3. Find a location for your Business:
Select a space or building that meets 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. You may also visit our newly created on-line commercial property search engine here.
4. Verify Zoning Regulations:
Before finalizing your business location or signing a lease, contact Watsonville’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 at (831) 768-3050.
5. Need 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. The Small Business Development Center (SBA) has helpful information and can be reached at (831) 479-6136, www.centralcoastsbdc.org or contact ElPájaro Community Development Center, (831) 722-1224,www.elpajarocdc.org or banks and private investors.
6. 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 Cruz County Clerk’s Office (before obtaining a Watsonville Business License) at (831) 454-2060 or www.sccoclerk.com
Applications are available in Watsonville’s one-stop permit processing center. 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 Watsonville, but doing work in Watsonville (including vendors, consultants and contractors), must have a valid Watsonville 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. You can learn more about business licenses here or contact the permit center at (831) 768-3050.
8. Obtain Other Permits and Licenses:
- Building Permits: In Most cases, a Watsonville 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 Watsonville Building Division at (831) 768-3050.
- Sign Permits: A permit is required for any sign on the outside of the building including permanent and temporary signs or banners. Contact the Watsonville Planning Division at (831) 768-3050.