Click on the titles below to search through our comprehensive lists of organizations that exist to help small businesses thrive. It includes resources right here in the Bay Area and across the country. This is your ticket to getting your idea off the ground and making it soar!
- Business Planning and Development
- Licensing and Regulations
- Other Kitchen Incubators
- Food Science, Manufacturing and Regulation Guide
- Advice and Steps to Starting up and Small Business
- Small Business Administration (SBA) offers programs and services to help you start, grow and succeed, including a step-by-step small business planner. Their Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners and a wide variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations.
- SCORE offers free, helpful business advice online and in-person at offices nationwide from volunteer mentors who are working or retired business owners, executives and corporate leaders.
- Getting Started in the Specialty Food Business is a guide written by Extension Food Scientists, covering everything from food product development to pricing.
- SF Office of Small Business and its Small Business Assistance Center (SBAC) function as the central point of information and referral for entrepreneurs and small businesses located in the City and County of San Francisco.
- SF Cart Project seeks to complement the research of people interested in starting or expanding a street food business of their own. Providing a relevant central resource for documents, information and community awareness regarding the often confusing (and occasionally contradictory) process of starting and running a legal mobile food business in the Bay Area. It even provides a guide to Starting a Legal Mobile Vending Business.
- San Francisco Economic Development Alliance consists of 10 member organizations who directly serve small businesses and micro-enterprises in the City, providing services such as loan packaging and micro loans, entrepreneurship training, and business plan development.
- Urban Solutions offers a comprehensive range of economic development services, including small business consulting and workshops, free of charge, to their clients.
- Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is dedicated to helping women and men who traditionally lack access to resources and information to achieve financial self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship. Renaissance provides training, support services, resources, and networks for business owners at every stage of business development, from idea feasibility through start-up, growth, and expansion.
- Anewamericaoffers a holistic three-year program, the Virtual Business Incubator, that assists new Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area to establish or expand microbusinesses, build personal assets for the sustainability of their families, and develop the community assets necessary to support the political, social, and cultural empowerment of their communities.
- Women’s Initiative provides high-potential, lower-income women the training, resources and on-going support to start and grow their business. The business management training, technical assistance, and financial services they provide — in English and Spanish — improve the quality of life for the women they serve, their families, and communities.
- C.E.O Women creates economic opportunities for low-income immigrant and refugee women through teaching English, communications and entrepreneurship skills, so they can establish successful livelihoods. C.E.O. Women then provides women with intensive mentoring, coaching and access to capital needed to start a small business.
- Asian/Pacific Islander Business and Information Services is a business assistance program that focuses on the specific language, cultural and technical needs of Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic-owned small businesses. Services include business plan development, loans and financing, marketing assistance, and more at no cost for San Francisco based small businesses.
- Mission Economic Development Association provides business development programs that offer one-on-one business technical assistance and group workshop curriculum in both Spanish and English. It offers micro-entrepreneurs one-on-one consultations, workshops, and access to micro-loans tailored to their specific needs.
- Pacific Community Ventures creates jobs and economic opportunity in low income communities through the direct support of small businesses as well as by advocating for systemic change to increase investment in these vulnerable communities. We fulfill our mission through three core programs.
- FDA Guidance Documentsprovide information on how to follow federal regulations for the food industry, including food labeling and food ingredients and packaging.
Legal Services for Entrepreneurs provides free business legal services to low-income individuals, including women and people of color, who want to start or develop for-profit businesses and certain for-profit businesses committed to community economic development.
- IRS Small Business Tax Center offers resources and general information for small business owners and self-employed individuals, around business taxes, employee guidelines and tax workshops available in your area.
State of California
- The California Business Portal provides information on how to obtain Business Permits, Licensing and Registration in California.
- California Gold Permitting is a catalog of information to assist you in finding the appropriate permitting information for your business, providing links and contact information that direct you to agencies that administer and issue business permits, licenses and registration requirements from all levels of government. Much of the information is specific to the type of business and its location in California.
- California Business Name Availability provides information to check a business name does not already exist and may be used.
- Processor’s Permit Application is required forall processors, manufacturers, packers, and holders of processed food, and businesses shipping food products intra or inter-state.Contact: Department of Health Services Food and Drug Branch
1500 Capital Mall Sacramento, CA 95814
- California Seller’s Permit Application is required forall business selling or leasing tangible property (including anything you did not prepare such as sodas, etc).Contact: California Board of Equalization
121 Spear Street, Suite 460 San Francisco, CA 94105
- Health Permit is required for food preparation and service, food product and marketing, laundries etc. This office provides information and referral to District Health Centers for application.Contact: City/County of San Francisco Bureau of Environmental Health
1390 Market Street, Room 210 San Francisco, CA 94102
- California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control administers the provisions of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, including licensing, enforcement and regulatory mandates. Their website provides links to license and industry information for businesses selling alcoholic beverages.
- EARN gives low-income workers the power to create economic prosperity for generations to come. EARN helps low-wage families through innovative financial products including matched savings accounts, checking accounts for the unbanked, and money management coaching.
- Opportunity Fund help clients join the financial mainstream by lending a helping hand, through their award-winning approach that includes financial education, microfinance loans, matched savings accounts, and affordable housing financing.
- TMC Working Solutions provides underserved microentrepreneurs with the access to capital and resources they need to successfully start or grow viable businesses. They provide microloans, technical assistance and one-on-one support, no-cost referrals to local business resources, and educational presentations on access to capital.
- Mission Asset Fund works to expand access to financial services, savings and investment opportunities for low-income and immigrant residents of San Francisco’s Mission District.
- Bay Area Small Business Finance offers commercial loans to start-up and existing businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, with emphasis on Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Solano counties. All products are fully-amortized term loans at fixed competitive interest rates offered to firms unable to obtain conventional financing.
- Small Business Administration provides approved small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. 504 loans are made available through Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA’s community based partners for providing 504 Loans.
- Kiva provides crowded funded 0% interest loans to small businesses. The application is simple and speedy and their community of philanthropic minded givers from all over the world means loans often fill quickly. Loans can be as small as a few hundred dollars and go up to $10,000.
- National Business Incubator Association is the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Each year, it provides thousands of professionals with information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies.
- Culinary Incubator is a website dedicated to small food businesses who are trying to find a commercial kitchen to cook their product. It includes a map of culinary incubators throughout the United States.
- Hot Bread Kitchen is a non-profit social enterprise that creates better lives for low-income women and their families. We do this by paying women while they learn the skills necessary to launch food businesses and achieve management track positions in food manufacturing.
- Northern Colorado Food Incubator (NCFI) is dedicated to a Living Economy: locally sustainable and globally fair. Working collaboratively, we support independent community- and land-based businesses and advocate for a whole, resilient community and bio-region. We provide support, guidance and assistance to food-related businesses and entrepreneurs in Northern Colorado.
- (FBIC) is a Food Business Incubator Center that nurture, support, and sustain food and agricultural industries in the Delaware region by providing business and technical training, resources for product and process evaluation and incubation, and a trusted source for information and guidance.
Click here to read more about Rachel Zemser and her book, The Food Business Tool-Kit For Entrepreneurs, a food business tool kit that covers typical start up questions, including but not limited to:
- How Can I Find a Co-Packer?
- Who can do my nutritional label?
- Do I need to get the FDA/USDA involved
- What about the Cottage Industry/Home Made Food Act?
- Do I need to do a shelf life study
- What IS a shelf life study?
- What are the FDA/USDA regulations for my product?
- What is a HACCP plan? Do I need one?
- Can I patent my product?
- Can I tell people my product will save the world?
- I want to be USDA certified organic
- Can my product be shelf stable like a twinkie but without all the bad stuff ?
Use the discount code LaCocinaSpecial for 25% discount off the book, a consultation, or both!
For additional resources on food packaging and food labeling requirements, visit Food Packaging Labels for information on required information, tips, and printing your food labels.