Food Business Start Up Step by step guide to becoming a legal business in SF

A food business startup requires  unique approach. In San Francisco this can sometimes be a daunting part of any business plan. Many food entrepreneurs start by cooking in their home.  When they come to me, often their first question is, “How do I get my business legal in San Francisco?”  This answer should be easy, but it isn’t.  Many of our government websites have so much content that it is hard to decipher exactly what pertains to your exact situation. Creative business ideas require smart business planning to spur business growth.

Getting a Food Business legal

As a food business consultant I can help you create your business entity – this can be a sole proprietorship, a sub-chapter S Corporation or an LLC. (I will write in more detail about this choice later). I recommend meeting with a lawyer and a small business CPA before making this decision. After you establish the entity, you will be assigned a FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number with the IRS. This is like a Social Security Number for your business and is used on all of your applications for vendor accounts, financial institutions and at the end of the year .

Get a business license,  this is a must for all food business start ups and can be obtained from City Hall in the Office of Treasurer and Tax Collector.  This allows you to do business in SF and pay the appropriate fees and taxes. The next step for your food business startup would be to get a health permit. There are three types  of health permits you can use in your  small business development. If you have brick and mortar food business that belongs to you get a full health permit. If you’re currently working for a finite period in a permitted kitchen that belongs to someone you need a temporary permit. This permit is tied to location (not your food business). If you’re working in a permitted kitchen and want to cook and serve in differing locations, then you need a catering permit. This permit goes with the food business entity, and is not location specific. There is also a special notification that you need to do for pop-up. Get a Seller’s Permit if your new business is going to sell or lease anything at wholesale or retail levels for which you will need to collect sales tax (some food businesses in SF do), California requires you to have a seller’s permit.

You don’t have to go it alone with your Food Business Startup

These are the basics to get you started.  I have a passion for getting food businesses launched and bring my experience to my clients.  Check out the ways that I can work with you to get your business launched. Let me help you with your food business start up. Sign up for my free video series below and get the help of a food business expert.


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