Starting a Home-Based Business aka Becoming a Work at Home Mom

**Please keep in mind while reading this post that I am located in San Diego, California and I am only (some what) familiar with their laws... If you live some where else I encourage you to do your own research about the laws and taxes that your state or country have in place. Use my research as a guideline. Please don't take this post as any sort of LEGAL advice. I am no lawyer... Just an average Jane who is trying to help out others like me!**

So you've decided to start a home based business... Now what? Well, there's a few legal things that you have to consider before you start. Even if your business will be primarily online (like on Etsy, eBay or your own site) you still have to follow all of the laws that a regular business would have to follow.

When I first started doing business online no one told me any of this! (Not that it was anyone elses responsibility...) I just figured that when I started selling on Etsy that I was basically working under Etsy... if that makes any sense. In the beginning I didn't look at myself as having my own business. It was more of a hobby for me. I think a lot of other people start off feeling the same way. But the truth is that if you sell more than 3 items in a year it suddenly becomes more than just a hobby. At least in the eyes of California and probably many other states. (Although I'm only familiar with the California law at this time.) This includes selling items on Craigslist and even when you have more than 3 yard sales a year. (Surprising, right?)

While stumbling around the Etsy forums one day I came across a post specifically talking about this very subject. It was for a completely different city and state than the one I'm in so the links were no good to me, but it made me realize that I should be doing my own research into this. Sure enough... I was doing things all wrong. I learned that there were 3 major things that I was missing! A Fictitious Business Name, a Business License and a California Seller's Permit. I really had no idea that lil 'ole me (the crafty/hobby seller) needed any of this.

Fictitious Business Name
After doing lots of online research the very first thing I decided to do was to apply for a Fictitious Business Name. Any person who will be doing business for profit under a fictitious name needs to get one of these. The only time it's not required is if your business name includes your surname. For example I could do business under the name Taylor Stoddard Designs... because it includes my last name. BUT since I'm doing business under the name The CamBrayah Collection I had to do this.

If you're in San Diego here is the website with all the info you'll need:

I chose to print and mail in my application in along with a check for the fee. At the time of this post it was $42 to apply. If you don't want to wait you could always go into one of their locations on the website and I'm pretty sure you can get your paper work approved that same day.

Once you get your application returned to you with their seal of approval you will need to put in a Fictitious Business Name Statement into a local newspaper. You only have 30 days to do this so don't wait or your application will be void! Don't ask me why you have to do this... I still have no idea. Seems a bit old fashioned to me! All I know is that it's required. They will give you a list of approved newspapers along with their phone numbers. Call up one of them and tell them that you need to put in a fictitious business name statement. They'll know what you're talking about. I called around and chose the first one who answered their phone. It ended up being with the Julian News for $28 total. I gave them my credit card number right over the phone and then scanned and emailed over my copy of my FBN application. Easy peasy. They run the ad for 4 consecutive weeks and then mail over the receipt to the county telling them that you complied.

Business LicenseI have to admit that I don't know too much about this one. I think I lucked out because I live in one of the unincorporated parts of San Diego county and am not required to get one. Here is the website for all of the info that you would need to find out if you need one here in SD county:

This one also costs money. I believe it's about $45 to apply. You can print and mail this one in or go into one of their locations and fill it out in person.

California Seller's PermitThis one is for everyone living within California state. Not just San Diego county. This is the little piece of paper that you need in order to conduct any sort of business where you are selling tangible personal property that would normally require sales tax if sold in a retail setting. These permits are available for both temporary and long term sales. The temporary permit only goes up to 90 days... so most likely you will need to get the regular one. Good news! This one is free... They just require a little bit more info on you than just your name and address like the previous applications. In order to get a Seller's Permit they will require you to give them your social security number, a personal reference, a copy of your driver's license and the name of a bank you do business with.

Here is their website:

Again, I printed out and mailed in this application, but you can do it in person if you wish. Here is a direct link to the application:

One of the great things about having a Seller's Permit is that you will be able to fill out re-sale certificates with your suppliers... This will get all of your supplies or items that you plan to sell tax free.

So there you have it... 3 of the major things that are needed to start up your own business. A Fictitious Business Name, a Business License and a Seller's Permit. At least here in San Diego County... Each city and state have it's own laws so you may or may not need to do these things. It's always best to look up your cityty and state official websites for the most current information.

I am far from being an expert on this stuff... I just hope this post helps someone out there looking for the same information I was seeking not too long ago. In a future post I'll talk more about taxes, who to collect from and how much. Stay tuned friends!

Coming up in future posts:
- What's in name? How to choose a great, unique business name.
-Building your brand.
-Pricing your homemade goods and applying sales tax.

Also coming in the next month or two I will be posting about:
-Cafepress vs Zazzle
- A quick guide to using PayPal
- How to sell on Etsy and be successful
- How to ship your items
- How to use Facebook pages, Pinterest and Instagram to your advantage
- How to build a website with little to no experience.
1 Response
  1. tinyheat Says:

    just to let you know, you now can register for a seller's permit online! I just did :)