5 Steps to Start a Business in South San Francisco: by Guest Contributor Lyle Solomon, Attorney at Law

South San Francisco, CA  January 19, 2022 by Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney, Oak View Law Group

NOTE: As we have witnessed many of our favorite local small businesses forced to shutter their companies during the shutdowns, we also are aware there are some locals who have reinvented themselves opening new businesses. To that end, we believe the information guest contributor Lyle Solomon shares will benefit those seeking to start something new. -ED

Living and working in South San Francisco is excellent, and it’s very safe. You can reach San Francisco (about 12 miles) by car or bus from South San Francisco (South SF). San Mateo County has set aside 40% of its land area for open space and parks, which is a lot. Life here is fantastic. A lot of things to do in the area: beaches, regional parks, and good weather.

The City of South San Francisco has put economic development at the top of its list of things to do. The City wants to bring in new businesses and make sure our local businesses stay strong.

Steps that may help you start your business in South San Francisco;

1. Look for the type of business you would like to start

The type of business you want to start in South SF depends on your expertise and comfort. It can be a small business, as South SF is high on promoting and backing up small businesses.  Most companies in South San Francisco are tech-related, retail, e-commerce, etc. There are also many home-based businesses in food, content development, web designing, graphic design, and many more.

2. Get a South San Francisco Business License

If you want to start a business in South San Francisco, you’ll need to get a business license from the Finance Department first. You will have to select the type of business license based on its location.

There are three types of applications:

  • Businesses within the city
  • Businesses outside the city
  • Businesses conducted from home.


The Finance Department collects business license fees each year. South San Francisco’s Municipal Code says that everyone who runs or works for a business in the city must get a business license and pay the fee, even if they work from home. There are fees for renewing a business license, and they must be paid by January 31st of each year. If you don’t pay your business license fees by March 31, the City may charge you penalties and interest on the money you still owe.

The Business License Tax Bill Notices are mailed in the first week of December. Annual payments are required on January 1st. Payments received after January 31st are subject to a 10% penalty, while payments received after March 1st are subject to a 25% penalty.

3. Learn more about entrepreneurship

In South San Francisco, there is an organization called Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. This organization aims to provide small businesses owned by socially and economically diverse entrepreneurs the power they need to grow themselves. They help promote their business, support them to reach their potential, and assist them in selling their products throughout the US.

They provide special seminars and workshops for entrepreneurs to help them. They also have entrepreneurship programs to help understand the workings of business and ways to grow their companies. This is a great place to start if you’re looking to learn more about entrepreneurship. {edit 1.21.2022}


4. Get a Sales tax permit, that’s also important

You can apply for a California sales tax permit at the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. You can do this online and register in person at one of their field offices.

According to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, if you run a business in California and plan to sell or lease items that are usually taxed at the point of sale, you need to get a seller’s permit from the state government, even if you make no retail sales.

If you don’t have a valid seller’s permit and you get a citation, you will have to go to court and could be fined up to $5,000 and/or spend a year in jail. There must also be a payment for any penalties and interest that have been accrued.

5. Get your finances in order

To grow your business, you need proper finances. Several organizations may help you get the money you need. Look for risk-free loans that provide benefits like low-interest rates, low down payment rates, no collateral, etc.

Never let your personal finances get in the way of your business finances, and always keep them separate. Take care of your finances before taking the plunge into your business. Most small business owners rely on loans and other sources of finance to get started. A loan may help you get out of a financial bind caused by unexpected bills, liquidity concerns, or overdue invoices.

Every time you apply for a loan, whether for personal or business reasons, the lender will check your credit score. Minor mistakes can have a significant impact on your score. No matter how tiny, it will impact your credit score. Those lenders also consider your personal debts along with your credit score. Lenders will assess your repayment ability by looking at your personal debt.

Therefore if you have any obligations, it’s better to negotiate credit card debt and plan to tackle it with your credit counselor.


South San Francisco has been one of the first to help people start businesses, and it is business-friendly. It’s a huge deal that they have one of the fastest business registrations and approvals. People in that area are the number one biotech cluster in the United States and are also the first place for venture capital.


After South San Francisco joined the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative, it reaffirmed its commitment to the manufacturing industry. This initiative is aimed at increasing jobs and profits for the industry. The points mentioned above are critical in starting a business, and hopefully, they will help you create yours.



Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney, Oak View Law Group

About Lyle Solomon

Lyle Solomon serves as a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in California.

He graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and has contributed many articles to assorted publications including Entrepreneur and Business Insider




Auburn, CA 95603-3536 United States

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S. Alvarez
S. Alvarez
1 year ago

I am looking for help, any help to guide me through a business proposal and business plan for a start up company in ssf, is there a certain person, place, business where I should be looking to for help?


[…] a clear plan in place before you start a business is imperative. Make sure you have a strong understanding of the industry and what makes a […]

2 years ago

Step 3 does not apply to South San Francisco 🙂 The Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is happy to help you through this process.