Business Consultant Starter Kit

The Business Consultant Starter Kit provides everything you need to help you register your business, obtain any necessary professional licenses, and open for business - including a printable version of the Business Consultant Guide.

What’s inside

Guides (1)

Guide - Business Consultant Guide

The Business Consultant Guide is an overview of what it takes to become a consultant in San Francisco. Every business is different, but we provide the basic steps – along with tips, tricks and common mistakes to avoid. Explore below or download the Guide for quick reference.

Related Documents (2)

Business Plan Template – US Small Business Administration (SBA)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) created this Business Plan Template to help you research and write your business plan.

Business Entity Comparison Table – SF Office of Small Business

This table provides an at-a-glance reference to how the most common business entity types — sole proprietorship, general partnership, C corporation, S corporation, and LLC — compare in a number of key characteristics.

Permits (3)

Business Registration Certificate

The basic city business registration required for all businesses who wish to operate in San Francisco.

Fictitious Business Name

Allows you to use a business name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is also known as an Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number. It is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A business needs an EIN to pay employees and to file business tax returns. An EIN does not expire and is unique to your business – once an EIN has been given to an entity, it will never be issued again.

Business Consultant Guide

The Business Consultant Guide is an overview of what it takes to become a consultant in San Francisco. Every business is different, but we provide the basic steps – along with tips, tricks and common mistakes to avoid. Explore below or download the Guide for quick reference.

Set Up Your Business

Create a plan

Create a plan that determines what type or range of consulting services you will provide.

Choose a business structure

Choose a business structure. LLCs, Corporations, and Limited Partnerships must register their structure with CA Secretary of State before registering locally.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number from the IRS. This is used to identify your business and allows you to hire employees. If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead.

Register your business

Register your business with the City through the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX) and the Office of the Assessor-Recorder.

Note
You may choose to obtain a separate business address, or you may use your personal address for your registration. Whichever you choose, it must be a physical address, not a P.O. Box.

Choose and file a business name

File a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement at the Office of the County Clerk if you will be using a name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Research the name’s availability in your county before filing.

Professional Requirements

Professional credentials

Obtain the necessary credentials if the services you provide requires a license (eg. attorney, certified personal accountant (CPA), financial advisor, etc). You can find most regulatory information through the CA Department of Consumer Affairs.

Bonds

Determine if you need to bond your work in advance. A bond (sometimes referred to as a surety bond) is a third party obligation promising to pay if a vendor does not fulfill its valid obligations under a contract. Essentially, it is a financial guarantee that you will honor a business contract.

Location

Determine where and how you want to conduct day-to-day operations. There are three main options for choosing a consulting business location: Home Based Business, Commercial Location, and Co-working Spaces.

Note
Key things to know about a home office: (1) Clients cannot come to your home; (2) Employees cannot work out of your home, unless they also live there; (3) You can’t display advertising; (4) You can’t use more than 25% of the space for commercial purposes. Review the SF Planning Department's Guide to Home Offices for more information.

Note
Beware that operating a home based business could violate your lease or Homeowners Association (HOA) charter.

After Opening

Solicit work

There are a number of ways to seek out work, including using the web, word-of-mouth, advertising, partnerships, etc.

Negotiate compensation

Negotiate compensation & payment plan prior to signing a contract. Consider taking a class or seeking other advice on contracts.

Pay your taxes

Prepare and pay your local, state, and federal taxes. Learn more from the SF Treasurer, SF Assessor, CA Franchise Tax Board, and the IRS.

Note
Depending on the legal form of your business, you may be required to pay the federal self-employment tax, among other taxes. Review the Forms and Associated Taxes for Independent Contractors.