Hey California bakers, ready to open your own bakery business and need some assistance? Here are expert bakery startup tips complete with State, City, and baking industry resource links.
Starting a bakery in California is not only fun, but can also be incredibly profitable. The Golden State has one of the largest economies in the world and boasts an impressive GDP that ranks third behind China and Japan. However, you have to know what you’re doing when it comes to opening a business if you want to succeed; otherwise, you could waste thousands of dollars on your venture.
Come along to learn how to make money baking in the Golden State.
- State of California Business Outlook
- Baking Industry Statistics & Trends
- Explore Bakery Business Ideas
- Discover Good Business Ideas
- Research Your California Marketplace
- Test Your Baking Business Idea
- Develop Your Business Plan
- Plan Your Financials
- Determine Your Baked Goods Pricing
- Calculate Your Bakery Startup Costs
- Fund Your Business in California
- Startup Funding Resource List
- Open Business Bank Account
- Set Up Accounting Systems
- Pick a California Business Location
- Name Your Bakery & Create Your Brand
- Decide Your Business Legal Structure
- California DBA Business Name Laws
- California Startup Business Regulations
- Protect Business Intellectual Property
- California Bakery Business Licenses & Permits
- Register Your Business – Government IRS
- California Sales Tax for Baked Goods
- Insurance & Other Regulations: Federal IRS, State, and City
- Open Bank Account
- Choose Your Team – Find & Hire Employees
- Find Bakery Suppliers & Negotiate Prices
- Marketing & Advertising
- State of California Business Resources:
- Bakery Industry Resources:
State of California Business Outlook
California is home to over four million small businesses. The top five California industries are finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; professional and business services; government and government enterprise; information; and educational services, healthcare, and social assistance.
Baking Industry Statistics & Trends
Looking at the Bakery Industry: its average growth in the United States over the past five years has been 1.9%. The market for baked goods is expected to continue to grow. Bakery products make up 2.1% of the gross domestic product of the United States.
California has a higher concentration of bakeries than the national average.
With a population of 39,984,261 and an approximate total area of 163,696 square miles, California is the most populous state and the third-largest state by area. Cities like Los Angeles and Santa Cruz are where bakeries are high in numbers.
Explore Bakery Business Ideas
All great businesses start with good ideas.
The term “Bakery” is an umbrella term for the industry. There are numerous business ideas that can get your bakery started in a unique and innovative way. In California, a great idea would be a gluten-free bakery or a vegan bakery. There is a large market in the state for bakeries that cater to the specifications of the people’s desires.
You next will need to explore what type of bakery you would like to open. An idea regarding this would be a bakery food truck rather than a storefront. You could also be an online bakery.
You also must determine whether you will be a counter-service spot or a sit-down spot. There are also several segments you could focus on within the market, which include bread, rolls, cakes, and pies. Your business could focus on only wedding cakes or only pies. However, this does limit your clientele.
Discover Good Business Ideas
One of the best ways to get brilliant business ideas is to review my lists of business ideas categorized for your situation, such as small-town business ideas or home-based – many of which are related to the baking and food trade.
Another way to find your next business idea is to experiment with my fun tool – Business Idea Generator. Click the button, and some concepts for product, service, or side hustle businesses will be generated.
Research Your California Marketplace
All successful businesses MUST fulfill a need for paying customers to thrive.
Find out if your new business idea will solve problems that customers are willing to pay for by thoroughly researching the marketplace.
Study the market, competition, location, and target clientele. Your competition and target clientele will be different in Los Angeles than they would be in San Francisco. Site is a significant factor that needs to be determined.
Begin by asking the following questions to study the market, competition, location, and target customers’ needs and wants.
Learn if the Market Needs & Wants Your New Product or Service
- What problem, need, or desire is being solved by your product?
- Who are the people, or companies, that have this problem? Why do they have the problem? What are they trying to achieve?
- How are they answering this problem now, without your new startup? What products and services are they using?
- What are other companies offering for this need – similar or dissimilar products to your business ideas?
- Where does your new firm fit into the marketplace?
- What is your point of difference, competitive edge, over established companies? Why should people buy your product instead of what they are using now?
Test Your Baking Business Idea
Now that you have researched your idea, it is till to test its viability to be confident of its profitability before investing your time and money to launch your company.
The best way to test your bakery products would be to showcase them at a local farmer’s market or something of that nature. Find a place where you can gain access to a clientele that will be like what you are anticipating with your bakery. See how the people respond to your baked goods because the goods are, after all, what can make you a success.
As a serial entrepreneur, I have done lots of business idea testing. Some ideas passed many failed. But I am sure glad I tested thoroughly first before losing money and, perhaps more importantly, entrepreneur confidence. Below are a few of the ways I test products. Get the full list of my ten best ways to field test your business ideas here.
- Visit Trade Shows with Your New Products
- Ask Others About for Constructive Feedback
- Run A Short Testing Ad Campaign
- Stage a Focus Group Session
Develop Your Business Plan
No doubt you’ve heard the old saying of one of my favorite guys Winston Churchill, “if you don’t plan – you are planning to fail.”
Nowhere is this truer than when starting a business.
You, like most entrepreneurs, are excited and want to start right away without taking any time for business planning – THIS is a major mistake.
Spare yourself the substantial loss of money, time, and much heartache by taking the time to write a business plan.
Once you’ve determined what kind of bakery you want to open, you must start developing a business plan. This will establish your goals, it will help you discover ways to generate revenue, list expenses, marketing strategies, and it will allow you to take a more in-depth look at your client-base and competition. Check out smallbizla.org for a list of resources that can specifically help you with the development of your business plan in California.
The importance of writing the plan is not wholly the finished document but the discoveries of missing elements in your business concept you find as you prepare your business plan.
During the process of writing your business plan, you will uncover aspects of your business strategy that will not work. Better that you discover these weaknesses on paper – now – then adjust your business model accordingly- than to encounter these problems in the field costing time, money, and possibility your company survival.
Many first-time entrepreneurs think that the business plan must be some sort of substantial financial novel that is given to the bank in the application for a business loan. While that is one type of business plan, the more important kind of business plan is one that the entrepreneur writes for themselves. This plan documents the business summary, target markets, marketing strategies.
Think of it as a map for your entrepreneurial journey. You would not set out on a long hike across unknown territory without a field guide and a detailed map.
So don’t dive into a new business and spend money, time, and emotional energy without a map.
My helpful resources to help you write your business plan
Plan Your Financials
This is the final stage where you will calculate important financial projections to determine if your business idea is profitable, the amount of capital you will need for startup costs, and ongoing working capital funding.
The first step in assessing your financials is to establish your startup cost. For the startup cost, you will have to figure out Everything you will need, from the larger things like the oven and refrigerator to the smaller items like spoons and spatulas, as well as expenses for the space and ingredients. Check out the US Small Business Administration site for a breakdown of all necessary steps to calculate startup costs, as well as resources and free business counseling.
Determine Your Baked Goods Pricing
Begin your financial planning by determining your best pricing. Pricing your product and service is a bit of art and science. There are multiple ways to determine your best price, cost plus, and market demand & supply.
There are different methods to calculate your prices for your new startup business based on multiple factors such as market demand, competitive prices, and costs expenses.
Most bakers base the pricing of their goods on the cost of ingredients and the time and labor that went into baking the goods. In order to start the process of determining prices, take a look at what the break-even point would be for your business. Figure out what you would have to charge in order to achieve that break-even point. Then take a look at these four costs:
- Calculate the costs of the ingredients and labor costs
- Calculate your overhead—the amount it cost to run the business and sell the products
- Determine the desired profit margin for every baked good you are going to sell
- Calculate the amount of startup cost that you want to pay off with each sale.
Once you’ve calculated these costs, you will start to get an idea of what your pricing can be. Then you take a look at the market, and then you can determine an idea of what your pricing should be.
These are the most often used pricing strategies for small businesses, with recommendations for which methods fit different types of companies.
This method is when you price your product higher than your competitors. This technique is often used at product launches to create a high-value perception in your customer’s minds.
Market Penetration Pricing
This concept is to gain buyers by offering the lowest prices on goods and services to enter a crowded marketplace. It is common for entrepreneurs to use this technique initially. If not planned and executed carefully, this is the most dangerous type of pricing strategy for your bottom line and business survival.
By utilizing the power of people’s emotions to buy is the key to success with this pricing strategy. Many consumers consider the price of a particular item a major purchasing factor. Use this to your advantage by reducing your cost a little and changing your buyer’s minds a lot. You have all seen the $199 specials, which are only $1 less than two hundred but seem to be a better bargain.
Read my full article about how to best price your products and services here.
Calculate Your Bakery Startup Costs
Two Types of Startup Costs – Set-up and Operational
First, you need to know that there are two distinct types of costs, those you will incur as you set up your company (Set up Costs or Startup Costs) and those that will continue to be expensed as you operate (Operational Costs, Expenses, and Working Capital).
One time investment to open your store or launch your website includes such items as legal business formation, building renovations, and manufacturing equipment.
These are easier to calculate. You will research each item and simply add up the list for your total set up costs.
Ongoing expenses to continue business operations, including rent, supplies, employee salaries – and most importantly, working capital. These costs are more difficult to calculate because they have many more variables. As your sales increase, so will your labor and material, and inventory needs.
Please read my article about how to calculate your startup and operational costs here correctly.
Forecast Sales & Expenses
The next step is to forecast your sales and expenses and generate a business budget.
I have a that I say that is funny but also true. I tell all new entrepreneurs to take their financial projections and cut their sales in half, and double their expenses.
Then, if the numbers show that they will make money, they should go forward to launch their business. Certainly, simplistic, but it illustrates that most entrepreneurs overestimate their sales and underestimate their expenses to their own detriment.
Here is the right way to create a business budget.
Define Working Capital Requirements
From one entrepreneur to another, you need to get wise about working capital today if you plan to keep your business doors open. Because the #1 reason for business failure is lack of working capital, please don’t become a business failure statistic.
Working capital refers to the funds that help you meet the daily expenses and needs of running your business, such as payroll or paying for software, tools, and supplies.
From a business management perspective, here’s all that you need to know about working capital in my article about what it is, the amount you need, how to manage it like a pro, and if you are short on working capital, how to either get financing and how to reduce your working capital needs without a loan.
Fund Your Business in California
Now that you have a great business idea, you will need money to get started in your new venture. While there are some businesses that you can start with almost no money, some are even free.
Starting any business will require a certain amount of funds. You’ve got a business plan, forecasted sales, and expenses. Now you just need the capital to get yourself and your business moving. There are plenty of ways to fund your business. Here are some resources to help you finance your business in California:
In addition, you can find Incentives by Industry here. The Small Business Administration can provide resources for funding your business as well. Visit their site by clicking here. You can also find some great resources at the Minority Business Development Agency. They have centers throughout the country that can help minority-owned businesses grow.
Most startups require some form of a business loan or capital investment. Now that you have written your business plan (see my how-to advice in the prior section), forecasted sales, expenses, and working capital, you know the amount of money you need to launch. Here’s how to fund your business
Startup Funding Resource List
Here are some excellent ways to fund your startup launch. Get my full list of 17 Proven Sources For Startup Capital
- Personal savings
- Loans and Credit Cards
- Partner Investors
- Bank Loans – SBA
- Small business grants – Here is my list of available small business grants with application links.
- Product Licensing – Read my best tips on how to sell your business idea to a manufacturing company.
TIP: If you need to finance your small business, consider the top recommendation for small business startup loans – Kabbage.com. Read my review of Kabbage loans with verified customer reviews and experience
CAUTION: Surely, you have heard of many businesses that got started using your credit cards as a primary form of financing. While this can be done, we recommend that you read this article and heed our warnings about financing your business startup on your credit cards.
Open Business Bank Account
In order to accept customer payments, cash, checks, or credit cards, your business will require a separate bank account from your personal or family bank accounts.
Please do not make the beginner entrepreneur run your business through your personal account. You will be making it harder on yourself since it will be tougher to manage transactions, reconcile checking accounts and prepare your tax returns.
All small business experts and the Internal Revenue Service recommend the separation of business and personal bank accounts. By opening a business account, you make this possible. Read my article about how to open your new business bank account here
Additionally, having a business bank account is a vital credibility factor to make your business idea a legit company and not just a dream. Also, for corporations, LLC’s and so forth, a separate and individual bank account will be necessary.
Depending on the bank and type of account required, several business days may be needed to get things set up, so don’t wait until the last minute to get things set up.
Set Up Accounting Systems
Whether you’re starting a sole proprietorship or an LLC, having the proper accounting set-up is essential. It is far better to have your bookkeeping established right from the start rather than find out down the road that you’ve done things wrong and now owe money to the IRS.
I learned this the hard way in one of my early ventures. Start bookkeeping with your second dollar – the first dollar you put in a frame over the door or on your desk 😊
Depending on the particular business formation type you have chosen, there may be reporting requirements for the accounting, especially payroll and taxes, that require regular and ongoing attention. Consult the IRS for your tax payment and reporting schedule.
I recommend the easy to use but flexible enough for growing companies, software Freshbooks. From sending email invoices, accepting credit cards, and tracking expenses, it simple, effective, and affordable. Check out the discount sale here.
Pick a California Business Location
A critical factor in the success of your business is location. Be picky when shopping around for your space.
Choosing the right location for your firm is one of the most important decisions you will make at the onset of your business launch.
Take your time and do your homework of research and planning before committing to a lease on retail, restaurant, or office space. Study the demographics of the area and surrounding towns, your competition nearby, and much more.
If you are choosing to be an online bakery, decide whether you want to bake from inside your home, or there are plenty of commercial kitchens you can easily rent.
If you chose to be a bakery food truck, take the time to research locations where you can and will be able to go for prime sales. If you are shopping around for a conventional space, compare the pricing of spaces, talk with surrounding businesses to determine your competition, or just to see how companies do in the area. Study the demographics of the town and the surrounding area.
Here are some questions to consider when starting to shop for your bakery space:
- Where is your target market located?
- What image are you trying to convey in accordance with your brand?
- How do you fit in or stand out when it comes to the surrounding competition?
- Are you near vendors and suppliers?
- Will you be able to find employees easily?
- Is the area you are looking at a safe place? Is safety important to you? What is the crime rate?
- Will you have to do a considerable amount of renovations?
- How much are property, income, and sales taxes?
- Can you legally conduct your business in this area, and is it zoned for your type of business?
- Can you afford to pay the minimum wage?
An excellent place to start in the search for the perfect location is to check out the local Small Business Development Center. You can find the one nearest you here.
My related resources:
Name Your Bakery & Create Your Brand
How to Name Your Business, so Customers Remember Your Brand
It can be challenging to think up a catchy name for your new company. I am here to help you with my best tips for coming up with company names that are memorable:
First, Make a List of Keywords
The words and phrases that your prospective customers type into internet search engines to find companies like yours. Add other towns, states, and countries to your search to find similar firms outside of your marketing area for inspiration.
Don’t use another firm’s exact name; just use those names to brainstorm your own unique brand name.
- Use market-level words such as industry names (i.e., catering, plumbing) and see what comes up
- Try your competitive advantage term (i.e., faster, cheaper, cooler) to find exciting concepts
- Your value proposition, innovation, or unique feature is an excellent source to build memorable names (example – Evernote – Remember Everything)
- Outside of Your Industry – Step back and look for an exciting combination of words from outside the industry.
Naming Tips: How to Come Up with a Catchy Business Name
Then Play with Words for a Great Business Name
Take that list of words, and you created using my tips above, and then play around until you find that perfect new startup name. Read about the 24 best ways to play with words to come up with your own catchy business name in my article here
Also, check out my article about how to combine two names – business partners – into one super company name here
Or consider trying out a business name generator from my list of the top FREE company name generators here
Plus Review List of Business Names for Inspiration
To help inspire you, I have written lists of catchy business names for lots of types of companies, such as below. Check out these unique name ideas that are not taken and available!
>>Check out my list of the best bakery name ideas here
You may already have an idea for the name of your business, but if not, then you can start by making a list of keywords to help you. These keywords can be industry-related, or they can be some words that you’ve been thinking about using in your company name.
Creating your brand is all about marketing. If you made a business plan like you were told to earlier, you would have already established some marketing strategies. There are plenty of ways to market your business that will require payment. Here are some ways to promote your business for free:
- Create a blog: some platforms that you can start your blog are WordPress, Weebly, Joomla, Drupal, or Wix
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Online groups: sites such as Online Geniuses, Indie Hackers, Facebook groups, or even Reddit have booming communities that can provide advice and provide a space for you to gain some buzz for your business
Decide Your Business Legal Structure
Your business is considered an entity or an organization in the eyes of the law and government, and this means that you need to have a structure such as Sole Proprietor DBA, Corporation, LLC, a limited liability company in which you run your business.
Starting a business in California requires you to select a business structure and file the appropriate tax and employer identification documents. Here are the possible business structures in California:
- Sole Proprietorship: owned by one individual (can also be a legally married couple)
- General Partnership: owned by general partners, within the agreement between two or more parties
- Limited Partnership: owned by general and limited partners
- Limited Liability Partnership: the use of LLP is limited in CA to practice types that include architects, engineers, land, surveyors, lawyers, and accountants
- C Corporation: owned by shareholders
- S Corporation: owned by shareholders
- Limited Liability Company: owned by members
For more information regarding business structures in California, visit the California Business Portal.
Learn more in my guide: How to Start Your Small Business Legally – Important Legal Requirements
You will want to determine the best legal structure for your new startup business, such as Sole Proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, or trusts.
Some businesses should incorporate, most notably those seeking venture capital and manufacturers, and some should not, such as small one-person companies, often referred to as solopreneurs, and those with low startup budgets and do not deal in products or services that could be dangerous to your customers.
California DBA Business Name Laws
If you’re a small business owner, you know that running your operation under a different name is sometimes necessary. California law mandates that DBA filings be made to run operations and sign legal documents if sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and corporations want to do so under another name. The reason for this rule is one of consumer protection: it prevents owners from avoiding liability by operating under an assumed identity.
For people who file as a sole proprietorship, you must file a DBA California ONLY if you decide to do business under a different last name, or if the owner doesn’t intend to use their own last name. Here is an example below:
- Sally’s Bakery – MUST file a DBA – Doing Business As with the state of California
- Sally Smith’s Bakery – DOES NOT have to file a DBA (because she is using her legal last name in her business name)
>>Check out my list of the best bakery name ideas here
How to File a DBA in California
- Search Your Business Name Availability – Start by checking if your desired company name is available using this online search tool.
- File a Fictitious Business Name Statement with Your County – Check with your County to get the correct form and filing procedure. Typically, your application will need to include your DBA business name, your business address, the full legal names of registered owners, your state business ID number, and your business type.
- Publish Your New Name in County Approved Publication – After you submit your application (described above) you must publish a DBA statement within 30 days of filing. The statement is to run once a week for four weeks in a local county publication where you do business.
TIP: I recommend you make it easy on yourself (and get back to baking) and let the professionals at Incfile handle all your paperwork for $0 (yes Free!) You only pay the required State fees.
California Startup Business Regulations
California is known for its ever-changing regulations. To keep up with them, here is the California Code of Regulations. Most businesses will require licenses and permits before the operation. Here is a list of the California State requirements to register a company:
- File with the California Secretary of State (SOS) *This is not required for sole proprietors
- File state income tax with the Franchise Tax Board
- Register as an employer and apply for an Employer Identification Number
You may need more permits. You can find all information regarding fees and permits at Calgold, the online permit assistance tool.
You must obtain a business license. Prices vary from place to place within the state of California. For example, in Los Angeles, the average cost of a license is $430. In San Francisco, the cost varies from $25 to $500, depending on the size of the business. Contact the country clerk, or visit Calgold to find the appropriate licensing office for a bakery in the location you are looking in.
To register your business with federal agencies, state agencies, and local agencies, visit this Business Guide.
Which is the Right Business Type for Your Company?
When you’ve got the name and business type you want to start, determining the best form of business structure is the next essential step.
There are many types and variations to business structure. Depending on which kind of business you intend to run, how the day-to-day operations will be carried out, and various other factors, a particular business structure may be of more value to you than another.
Out of the USA’s possible business structure types, here are the most common five types for profit-oriented organizations. If you are interested in setting up a non-profit or not-for-profit, check out my expert tips here.
Business Formation Legal Entity Types
- Sole Proprietor
- S Corporation
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A sole proprietorship is the business formation most adopted by individuals. It is also the form of business that carries the most liability for the owner—a single owner, personally responsible for the Sole Proprietorship.
Like the sole proprietor, this business formation simply puts a partnered proprietorship rather than a sole proprietor. The liability is typically evenly dispersed amongst owners.
Business partnership resources:
A corporation is quite a different creature from a sole proprietorship. In the United States, a corporation is a sort of virtual entity. A corporation takes on rights and abilities like a person – that’s why it uses the word “corp” as in the corporal body. The difference is that it features the ability to exist perpetually, quickly transfer interests, and provide limited liability for the corporation’s shareholders (owners).
An S Corporation differs from a regular corporation in that it chooses to pass credits, deductions, income, and losses through to the shareholders. These shareholders would add these to their income tax. It enables the business to simply pass along the numbers to the owners (shareholders) and act as intermediaries.
Read my advice about whether a corporation would be an excellent legal business entity for you linked below:
Business incorporation resources
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A popular form of business structure is the limited liability company referred to as an LLC. Each state has its regulations regarding the LLC. To clarify how it differs from the other previously mentioned business formation types, let’s start by defining the LLC.
An LLC can be thought of as a hybrid structure. It is sort of a mix between a corporation and a partnership. One might think of it as a partnership that insulates the owner’s liability to some limited degree but similar to the corporation’s structure.
Although an LLC may appear to have some extraordinary benefits, several regulations must be followed for this type of organization in Texas.
Read my advice about whether an LLC would be an excellent legal business entity for you here
Protect Business Intellectual Property
If your new businesses develop new inventions, manufacturing processes, or products, you will want to protect your intellectual property with patents, trademarks, and copyrights issued by the US patent and trademark office.
Learn more in my article – What is Intellectual Property and Why it’s Important to Your Business
Brand Name Trademark Info
It is also a good idea to safeguard your business brand name with a trademark application.
California Bakery Business Licenses & Permits
In addition to setting up your legal business structure LLC, INC, or DBA (as detailed above), you may (depending upon your type of business) be required to obtain a special business license or permits.
Licensing for at-home bakeries are very different than store front or commercial baking operations.
License Requirements for Home Bakeries
California’s at-home bakeries must register for a basic business license, as the bakery is considered a business entity despite operating from home. You can choose to operate it with your own Social Security number and legal name, but you’ll need to get an inspection from your county’s health department first.
The laws are complex and ONLY certain types of baked goods are permissible rated not potentially hazardous are approved for sale by a cottage food operation including these bakery items:
(1) Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as bread, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas.
(2) Candy, such as brittle and toffee.
(3) Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit.
(4) Dried fruit.
(5) Dried pasta.
(6) Dry baking mixes.
(7) Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales.
(8) Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
(9) Herb blends and dried mole paste.
(10) Honey and sweet sorghum syrup.
(11) Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(12) Nut mixes and nut butters.
(14) Vinegar and mustard.
(15) Roasted coffee and dried tea.
(16) Waffle cones and pizzelles.
License Requirements for Storefront & Commercial Bakeries
The health permit is a legal requirement for all food establishments in order to serve the public with tasty tit-bits. These permits are obtained from your respective county environmental health department and these departments also conduct periodic inspections of permittees’ facilities and equipment to make sure that they are following all safety standards.
When you’re choosing a location for your business, it’s important to consult the zoning laws and get a zoning permit in most California counties. You can find out if your desired location is permitted in your area by talking to both the county and city planners.
The California Retail Food Code is a set of rules in the California Health and Safety Code that establishes food safety requirements for operators, including the hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils, food storage, as well as janitorial facilities.
People who work hard deserve to be compensated fairly. That’s why California labor law says that businesses with employees are required to abide by a minimum wage, set hours, and follow health and safety guidelines. Learn more on the California Department of
Industrial Relations website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlse.html
Register Your Business – Government IRS
Taxes – Sales & Income
The two primary taxes most new businesses must deal with are sales tax and the dreaded income tax we all know.
Taxes will depend on the type of business structure your bakery used. If you are a sole proprietor, it is not a taxable entity. Sole proprietorship and general partnership businesses have no franchise tax, while all other business structures have a minimum franchise tax of $800.
For businesses operating in US states, two necessary taxes need to be potentially charged to your clients.
- Sales Tax – This sales tax applies to certain kinds of tangible products as well as services.
- Use Tax – Use tax applies to products or services purchased out of state for use in the state.
Sales taxes are charged on most tangible products. As well, sales taxes are levied on most services.
California Sales Tax for Baked Goods
The California tax code is a confusing mess. But in general, food isn’t taxed there. Like when you buy a cake at the bakery with decorations that are not edible – if more than 50% of the retail value of the cake comes from non-edible decoration, then tax applies to its purchase price.
For the longest time, there were no rules in place for food items in California. As a result, bakers struggled with this issue for years.
In 2018, the Governor made it clear that all non-edible decorations would be taxed at 10% of their value – meaning if more than 50% of the total retail value of the cake represents the value of non-edible decorations to an equal or lesser amount than the cost of materials used, then they would not be taxed.
Income Taxes and Your New Bakery
There is no escaping two things in life: death and taxes. And so, here is the handy resource to help you figure out your new business taxes.
Do yourself a favor and heed the advice above regarding the two people one ought to consult before starting a business – a lawyer and an accountant.
When it comes to sole proprietorships, the taxes are relatively straightforward. With all other forms of business structure, simplicity is muddied with multiple forms and regulations.
It is easiest to budget into the business expenses to have the use and direction of a professional accountant to keep your business on track for success.
Insurance & Other Regulations: Federal IRS, State, and City
Legally, you are required to have certain federal and state licenses and permits depending upon the type of business you are founding.
All businesses must be registered with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in America when they file their business structure type, either DBA (sole Proprietorship), incorporation or LLC, for their tax status and filing purposes. Beyond that governmental requirement, you may need additional licenses as listed below.
PS: If you are not a US citizen, check out my special guide on how to start an American business as a foreigner here
Federal licenses are required for those businesses that sell alcohol, dealing firearms, or require federal permits listed here on the SBA website; also, those firms in agriculture, aviation, fish and wildlife, mining, maritime, nuclear energy, television, and radio broadcasting, and transportation. Get more info here about licenses and permits needed to open your business.
Insurance Requirements for California Businesses
When you apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), this is your federal tax ID number. While some states do not have an income tax, California does.
It is important to keep a record of your books. Bookkeeping will allow you to keep track of your finances and will make filing taxes much easier when that time comes around. Check out the IRS website to understand record keeping better and why it is pertinent in operating a business.
While you are not required to purchase commercial insurance in the state of California—aside from worker’s compensation—it may be in your best interest to, or at least look into it. For more information on worker’s compensation, refer to the Department of Industrial Relations. Commercial insurance can protect you from some of the most common losses experienced by business owners, such as property damage, business interruption, theft, liability, and worker injury.
The necessary steps to get business insurance are :
- Assess your risks.
- Find a reputable licensed agent.
- Shop around.
- Reassess every year.
Open Bank Account
Having a business bank account is a vital tool to run your business. It physically separates your business expenses from your personal accounts.
Please do not make the mistake that many beginning entrepreneurs do and run your business through your personal account.
You will be making it much harder since it will be more difficult to manage transactions, reconcile checking accounts, and prepare your tax returns when your funds are commingled – personal and business.
Top business experts and the Internal Revenue Service recommend the separation of business and personal bank accounts. By opening a business account, you make this possible.
Additionally, having a business bank account is an important credibility factor to make your business idea a legit company and not just a dream.
A business account is necessary for when you start spending or accepting money as a business. You can open a business account after you’ve gotten your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Do not run your business through your personal account. It will prevent you from the ability to accept credit cards, it looks less professional, and it will end up causing more problems down the road. Here is what you need to open a business account:
- Employer Identification Number (EIN), or your Social Security Number if you are the sole proprietor
- Your business’s formation documents
- Ownership agreements
- Business license
Get my best tips on how to open your business bank account and the documents you will need here
Choose Your Team – Find & Hire Employees
Unless the business is completely automated, personnel (employees, freelance, or subcontractors) will likely be required. After all, it’s good old-fashioned hard work that built American business. And it will continue to be the labor of people that make businesses succeed.
In the case of hiring staff, there will be certain legal considerations that must be taken into account.
- Staff hierarchy – Are management in place? Who runs the various business operations?
- Deductions & taxes – Accounts with the IRS set-up? Software or accounting in place for payroll?
- Health care and benefits – Are your staff protected?
- Working conditions – Does the working environment comply with all state regulations?
Find Bakery Suppliers & Negotiate Prices
When searching for suppliers, make sure you take into account their location and their pricing. Find the pricing that works best for you, with a location that will not cost an outrageous amount to get to you. Search for the best bakery suppliers in your area. For example, if your location is in Los Angeles, check out these wholesale baking suppliers.
Marketing & Advertising
Branding your business involves more than just naming the company. It also involves having a logo, often a particular font, and even a slogan for your business. Also, company colors should be chosen. This package is called your branding package, and it’s essential.
Get Your Perfect Logo Design
Can you think of a major business without a logo? Bet you can’t!
That’s because major brands are built on the foundation of strong logos, the single most important visual element of branding.
So, you know that you need a standout logo for your company. But how to create one?
Learn how I created my newest brand logo in this comprehensive 99designs step-by-step tutorial complete with my over-the-shoulder video series.
Advertising comes in many forms, from billboards to a website to a storefront sign. In the good old days, there was a focus on flyers, and today it’s social media. Regardless of the method, getting your business name out is essential to growing your client base.
Defining a solid strategy for advertising and setting an advertising budget is a significant step for any business.
When new stores launch, they often have a grand opening event involving media. The same is true for restaurants and many other businesses. This must all be considered at the beginning, especially if a significant startup even cost is involved.
Learn about both the advantages and disadvantages of opening a bakery in my article – Important Pros and Cons of Starting a Bakery here
State of California Business Resources:
California SCORE: Network of volunteer, expert business mentors dedicated to helping small businesses
Central Valley SCORE: Serving the Central Valley
Capital Corridor SCORE: Serving Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, San Joaquin, Sutter, Yolo County, and Butte County.
Modesto-Merced SCORE: Serving Modesto-Merced
San Luis Obispo SCORE: Serving San Luis Obispo and the Santa Maria Valley
Central Coast SCORE: Serving Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties
Small Business Administration: The US Small Business Administration Resource Guide; providing advice about local business assistance, funding programs, and contracting
https://business.ca.gov/: The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development; serving to provide job growth, economic development, and business assistance
https://smallbizla.org/resource/business-planning/: Los Angeles Small Business Development Center’s list of resources for creating a business plan
https://smallbizla.org/resource/business-planning/: through the Los Angeles Small Business Development Center; help to calculate startup costs
https://www.ibank.ca.gov/small-business/loan-guarantees/: Small Business Loan Guarantee through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank
https://www.treasurer.ca.gov/cpcfa/calcap/: California State Treasurer’s information on the California Capital Access Program (CalCAP)
https://businessportal.ca.gov/incentives/incentives-by-industry/: California Business Portal’s Incentives by Industry for business funding
https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans: The US Small Business Administration’s funding programs
https://www.mbda.gov/mbda-programs: Minority Business Development Agency; access to business experts in the area
https://americassbdc.org/find-your-sbdc/: Link to find your local Small Business Development Center
https://businessportal.ca.gov/business-assistance/choose-a-business-structure/: A list and information on each California Business Structure
https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Index?transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29: California Code of Regulations for businesses that need to be adhered
https://www.ftb.ca.gov/file/business/index.html: Information on and where to file taxes as a business
https://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/business-entities/forms: Where to submit business entity filings
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Federal IRS
https://www.calgold.ca.gov/: Where to find all permits, licenses, forms, and fees for starting a business in the area
https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/register-your-business: The US Small Business Administration’s guide to registering your business
https://www.ftb.ca.gov/file/business/tax-rates.html: California’s Business Tax Rates
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/recordkeeping: A resource for recordkeeping within your business
https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/faqs.html: Necessary information on worker’s compensation insurance
Bakery Industry Resources:
https://asbe.org/national-bakery-associations-and-resources/: The American Society of Baking; baking industry professionals who have joined together to provide continuing education, networking opportunities, and professional development
https://www.csus.edu/indiv/h/hattonl/documents/BakeryIndustry.pdf: Bakery Industry Analysis
https://www.sbdcnet.org/small-business-research-reports/bakery-business: Small Business Development Center; Bakery Business trends, information, and free or low-cost training and professional business advice
https://www.yellowpages.com/los-angeles-ca/wholesale-baking-supplies: A list of the best bakery supply vendors in the Los Angeles area
https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes513011.htm#(9): Occupational employment statistics within the baking industry
https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/bakery-cafes-industry/: Market research report of the US Bakery Cafes Industry
Farmers Market Alliance Where to find a local farmer’s market for you to test your baked goods
https://cautiouslyoptimistickitchen.com/what-no-one-tells-you-about-owning-a-bakery-storefront/: A first-person experience in opening a bakery
https://us.accion.org/resource/how-start-bakery/: Accion’s guide to starting a bakery
https://www.foodandwine.com/travel/restaurants/best-bakeries-in-america: A comprehensive list of bakeries in the US that can be used for industry research
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.