Starting A Business

Thank you for considering Los Gatos as the home of your business! 
We look forward to working with you.  Please contact our Economic
Vitality staff to learn more about zoning and permitting for your
specific business use and prospective location.

Staff Contact 

Monica Renn, Economic Vitality Manager
Email Monica 

Ken Benjamin Photos 038_thumb.jpg


Starting a Business In 9 Steps:

  1. Develop Your Business PlanDetermine Your Business Structure 
  2. Location, Location, Location
  3. Register A Fictitious Name
  4. Tax Reporting
  5. Pay Your Business Tax (Licensing)
  6. Other Town and Agency Permits
  7. Will You Have Employees?
  8. Get Connected in Los Gatos
(see below for details on these steps...)


Step 1-Develop Your Business Plan
A business plan is the first step to starting a successful business. This plan will help you evaluate your idea, estimate costs, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal. A business plan may also serve as a tool to help raise money and is usually required to apply for a loan to attract financial capital.

Tips for Success:
The Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) is an association of working and retired executives and business owners who donate their time and expertise as volunteer business counselors and provide confidential counseling and mentoring free of charge.

A SCORE counselor can provide important individual guidance during the development of your business. Please visit the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce to schedule an appointment.

Step 2-Determine Your Business Structure
It is important to determine the structure of your business for operating and business reporting purposes. Will you operate your business as a sole proprietor, partnership (2 or more owners), or a corporation (1 or more stockholders/officers)?

If you are a sole proprietor, no formation documents are required to be filed with the Secretary of State. It is optional for partnerships to file with the State.

If you are starting a corporation or a limited liability company, you must contact the California Secretary of State's Office. They can supply you with all the information and forms you need.

Step 3-Location, Location, Location
Before signing a building property lease or purchase agreement, contact the Town of Los Gatos Community Development Department at 408.354.6872 to determine the zoning of the site. The Community Development Department will determine if your business is a permitted use for the location and if any special approvals are needed.  Our OpenCounter Zoning Portal online tool is another quick and easy way to check if your use will fit in the space and zone you are considering.

Tips for Success:
Working from home? You will need to obtain a Home Occupation Permit. It is still recommended to review pertinent zoning information to ensure the proposed business activities are permitted.

Step 4-Register a Fictitious Name
If you create a name for your business that is different than your own legal name, you need to register the business name with the Santa Clara County Clerk's Office.

Also, public notices announcing your new business name must be posted for four weeks in the local newspaper to complete the registration process.

Tips for Success:
To make sure your business name doesn't conflict with other businesses, you can check to see if it is in use within Santa Clara County by checking the Fictitious Business Name Database.

Step 5-Tax Reporting
All businesses are required to file both state and federal tax returns. Please contact the California State Franchise Tax Board and the Internal Revenue Service to learn more about specific requirements.

Will you sell a produce? The California Board of Equalization can assist you in determining whether you need a Seller's Permit. You may also be required to collect sales tax. To do so, the Board of Equalization will need to issue you a resale number in order to report the sales tax.

Whether self-employed or an employer with one or more employees, you must also pay Social Security Taxes. Please contact the local office, in Campbell, to answer any questions at 1.800.772.1213, or visit their office at 777 West Hamilton Avenue, Campbell, CA.

Step 6-Pay Your Business Tax (Licensing)
A Town business license is required if a business is located within the Town limits, or if an agent of the business comes into Town to conduct business. Business License Applications are available online.

The license tax due can be determined based on the type of business activity. Those businesses which are based on retail sales, wholesale, manufacturing, and/or jobbing, have taxes based on a sliding scale. All other businesses have taxes based on flat fees as set forth in Town Code Sec. 14.20.115. Flat-fee based businesses are pro-rated, by quarter, from the date of application to the end of the year.

Step 7-Other Town & Agency Permits
Depending on the type of business, you may be required to obtain permits or licenses from County, State, or Federal agencies. Please contact these individual agencies directly if applicable:

Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC):
No person may directly, or indirectly, on any pretense, sell, barter, charge for possession, or otherwise dispose of alcoholic beverages as part of a commercial transaction without having obtained the proper permit or license.
If you plan to serve alcohol, please contact ABC at 408.277.1200 or visit their office at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, #119, San Jose, CA, 95113

California Department of Consumer Affairs:
Many professional businesses, such as accountants, engineers, doctors, and dentists, require a State license from California Department of Consumer Affairs. Businesses such as barbers, cosmetologists, security services, and auto repairs, are also required to obtain a State license. Please call to find out if you must register your business.

Contractor's License:
Construction is one of the largest industries in California's diverse economy. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) receives and processes applications for new licenses, additional classifications, changes of license records, and license renewals.

Import/Export Permit:
If your business involves the importing of products with other countries, you may need to obtain an Import/Export Permit. Please contact the United States Customs and Border Protection at 415.782.9210.

Other Permits and Licenses:
To determine what other regional, state, and federal permits and licenses your business may need, call the State's "CalGOLD Business Permits Made Simple" office at 916.322.4394.

Restaurants and Food Vendors:
A health inspection is required for restaurants and food vendors. Contact the Santa Clara County Environmental Health Department to arrange for an inspection, or to request information and advice regarding health and environmental issues.
If you plan to serve food, please contact the Santa Clara Office of Environmental Health at 408.918.3400 or visit their office at 1555 Berger Drive, Suite 300, San Jose, CA 95112.

Retail and Wholesale Business Permits:
If your business will involve sales, you will need to obtain a Seller's Permit from the State Board of Equalization.
If your business involves sales, please contact the State Board of Equalization at 408.277.1231 or visit their office at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 307, San Jose, CA 95113.

Step 8-Will You Have Employees?
If you hire employees be sure to register with the California Employment Department. They will provide you with the necessary forms and answer any questions you may have regarding responsibilities. As an employer, the State requires you to do the following:
  • Withhold State income tax
  • Withhold State disability insurance
  • Pay unemployment tax
  • Pay for an employment training costs
You must also register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive an Employer Identification Number. The IRS offers many services to new business owners and will provide a package of helpful information explaining the type of forms used and due dates for these forms.

As an employer, you are required to carry worker's compensation insurance. You may obtain this insurance through your own insurance agent or the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF). The SCIF is a non-profit, public enterprise fund that operates like a mutual insurance carrier.

Step 9-Get Connected in Los Gatos

Small Business Resources

Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce:
Become part of a vibrant business community by joining the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce. Members enjoy numerous network opportunities, coordinated marketing opportunities, and access to many small business assistance services. For more information please call 408.354.9300.

West Valley Collection and Recycling:
To begin service, ask questions about the services available, or submit a service issue, call West Valley Collection and Recycling at 408.283.9250.


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E):
Gas and electric services in Los Gatos are provided by Pacific Gas & Electric. For more information, contact PG&E at 1.800.468.4743.

San Jose Water District (SJWD):
San Jose Water Company is an established utility that services many Silicon Valley cities. Full service water utility operations are currently provided to the cities of San Jose, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Campbell, and Cupertino through systems acquired under lease, purchase, or franchise agreements. For more information contact San Jose Water District Customer Service at 408.279.7900.

West Valley Sanitation District:
The West Valley Sanitation District provides waste-water collection, treatment, and disposal services.