Because you’re running a business, your city or county will probably require a license to do business. Although mine is a piece of paper I store in a manila folder, I realize it is a revenue-enhancing tool for the county where I live. The annual license charge here is a manageable $32. I have an El Dorado County (California) business license because, according to the document itself, “It is unlawful for any person to transact any kind of business in the unincorporated territory of the County without possessing an unexpired and unrevoked County business license….” Need I say more?
I know some people are saying: “hehehe, I don’t need a business license and can therefore save $32/year.” I beg to differ. You need a business license to legally do business. Maybe you feel that you are “under the radar” and your city or county will not find you. That could be the case. Eventually, I feel you will have to prove you have a license. Cities and counties are more desperate than ever for cash and their enforcement is more aggressive than ever.
If you, as a business owner, ever sue someone, you will need to prove your license is current. I sued a delinquent client a few years back. Sure enough, the judge verified my license after my opening statement.
In addition to the business license, you may need a fictitious business name. This comes into play if you are a proprietorship. I am a proprietorship and therefore have an El Dorado County fictitious business name certificate. My business name is Cameron Park Computer Services. According to the document itself, “The fictitious business name statement shall be filed with the clerk of the county in which the registrant has his or her principal place of business in this state.…” It lets me accept checks payable to Cameron Park Computer Services. Earlier this year, a client sent me checks payable to Mark Anthony Germanos, LTD. This was not my fictitious business name. The bank teller told me to update my fictitious business name statement to reflect both Cameron Park Computer Services and Mark Anthony Germanos, Ltd. I updated the statement. Part of that process involved writing another check. Hassle. Hassle. Hassle. Yes, I know.
Speaking of hassles, you may have an additional level of governmental regulation. California has a regulatory agency called the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair (BEAR). I’m not sure what they do or how they make life better for Californians. I do know this occurs:
1. BEAR sends me an annual invoice
2. I send them $165
3. BEAR sends me a certificate.
It’s a hungry government agency and I don’t think you can reside “under the radar.” Send the check and get back to running your business.
If you are regulated by one agency, you should consider yourself lucky. The shop that changes my car’s engine oil has 11 certificates on the wall. Apparently, 11 California and local agencies are sending them annual invoices. I asked the franchise owner what all the certificates cover and he did not know. All I know is…he surely is not “under the radar.”
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