Starting a Business

Starting a new business can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. We'll guide you through the steps you need to complete to get up and running fast, and connect you to resources that will help you succeed.

1. Research and Planning:

A solid business plan is the backbone of every successful business. Take the time to explore and evaluate your business and personal goals before you go any further with your idea. Then use this information to build a comprehensive and well thought-out business plan that will help you reach these goals. The process of developing a business plan will help you think through some important issues that you may not have considered yet. Your plan will become a valuable tool as you set out to raise money for your business. It should also provide milestones to gauge your success.

City of Hayward Economic Development Division
E: | P: (510) 583-5540 | W:

2. Business Assistance & Training:

You don't have to do it all alone! Give yourself the best chance for success by taking advantage of free counseling and training programs available to assist you. From low cost business training and free mentoring, selling to government, finding access to capital and expanding your business internationally, there are a wide range of resources available to help get you started.

3. Choose a Location:

Deciding where to locate your business might be the single most important choice you make when launching a new venture. Hayward is filled with retail, industrial, office and flex space opportunities. Contact our Economic Development staff for site location assistance at or by phone at (510) 583-5540.

4. Finance Your Business:

Every business needs capital at some point to start up or expand. Typically, this comes from savings, home equity, or friends and family. The next most frequent source of funding is to look for some kind of business loan. Find federal, state and local governments financing programs to help you start and grow your operation.
Learn more from the Governor's Office of Business & Economic Development

5. Structure Your Business

For operating and reporting purposes, your business needs a structure. The shape your business takes is up to you. Your form of business determines the amount of paperwork you have to file, your personal liability regarding investments into your business, and the taxes you have to pay. When determining your business structure, it's often worthwhile to consult an attorney or tax professional for expert guidance on how to best position your business and achieve your goals.
Learn more from the Governor's Office of Business & Economic Development

6. Choose a Fictitious Business Name

Any person or entity carrying on a trade of business under a name which does not include the owners’ last name and portray the nature of the business requires filing a fictitious business name statement. If Gary Grabowski owns a sole proprietorship that sells heirloom garlic, and he calls the business "Gary Grabowski Garlic," he doesn't need a fictitious business name. If, however, he calls the business, "Garlic Gary" or "Tasty Olde Time Garlic Shoppe," he would need to file. This step must be completed with Alameda County prior to obtaining a Business Tax (license) from the City of Hayward. Public notices announcing your new business name must be posted for four weeks in the local newspaper to complete the registration process.

Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office
1106 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94607
(888) 280-7708

Local Newspapers:

The Tri-City Voice
(510) 494-1999

7. Register for Taxes:

Register with the state of California and the federal government for a Federal Employer Identification Number, and find out about corporate, payroll, income, and sales tax. In doing so, you'll also be able to learn about different tax assistance programs for small businesses.

All businesses are required to file both State and federal tax returns. Contact the State Franchise Tax Board and the federal Internal Revenue Service to learn more about specific requirements. If you're selling a product, 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. If so, you'll need a resale number from the Board of Equalization in order to report the sales tax.

To operate a business in Hayward you need to apply for a business license and pay a business tax. Non-profit organizations are required to register through the Revenue Division.

Apply by downloading the application here

All applications may be submitted by email to

Other Requirements:

Certain types of businesses or events, such as door-to-door selling, public dances, and street vendors, may require other permits or clearances.

Certain businesses, such as non-profit organizations, are excluded or exempted from payment of the business tax. These businesses must file an Affidavit for Exemption with proof of exemption. The exemption is approved by the Hayward Police Department and may require additional approval from the Planning and Fire Departments.

To view the Business License section of the Hayward Municipal Code, please click here

For more information, please call Business License at (510) 583-4600. For Department of Social Services (Day Care) call (510) 567-6700. 

8. Register for Permits:

Depending on the nature of your business and whether you'll be making improvements to your building, you may require site inspections by the Fire and/or Police Department as part of your application approval, as well as permits for signage or special activities. Visit our online permit center for more information and to download available applications.

The Permit Center is a “one-stop” location in City Hall for the review of development projects and building plans. Representatives of Planning, Building, Engineering, Landscape and the Fire Department answer questions and assist you with your project. There is also a self-help area where you may research zoning and permitting history of a building or project. Many records may be copied for a nominal charge. Application for land use permits and construction, demolition and encroachment permits may be made at the Permit Center. Minor permits (termite repair, window replacement, re-roofing, water heater replacement and signs) are frequently issued over the counter in a single visit to the Permit Center.

Larger projects are subject to more complex regulations and will require a longer review period. The extent of review required depends on the use or occupancy type of the structure, the location and the impact of construction on the environment.

Projects are reviewed for compliance with:

  • Zoning requirements
  • General Plan
  • Building and Fire Codes (including hazardous materials)
  • Landscape requirements
  • Hayward Municipal Code
  • Subdivision Map Act
  • Other established development policies
Permit Center Location:

City Hall - Lobby Level
777 B Street, 1st Floor
Hayward, CA 94541

Permit Center Hours:

Monday – Thursday 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed Fridays

**NOTE: Permit Applications are accepted 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Thursday.

For more information, please call the Permit Center at (510) 583-4140.

9. Employer FAQs

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire new employees. There are specific federal, state and local requirements regarding equal opportunity employment, employee safety and health protection, taxes and insurance – find out more with these resources.
Learn more from the Governor's Office of Business & Economic Development