Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register a business name?

Generally, any business that operates under a name other than the owner’s personal name must file a Fictitious Business Name, also called a DBA (Doing Business As), with the County Recorder and publish that statement according to local statutes. Some business structures are also required to register with the Secretary of State. In addition to affecting the name registration, the choice of business structure has several other ramifications. West Business Development Center can help you understand business structure, be better prepared to choose a structure, seek legal counsel if necessary, and properly register your business. Go to Resources


Does West Business Development Center serve women AND men?

Yes! West Business Development Center serves as the Mendocino Women’s Business Center as well as the Mendo-Lake Small Business Development Center. Our services are available to anyone in Mendocino and Lake Counties interested in starting OR currently operating a small business.

How do I get financing to start or expand a business?

West Business Development Center helps connect entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs with potential funding sources once a business plan and financials have been developed and written. Our business advisors can help you understand, develop and create your business plan. In addition, we can help you determine the financial feasibility of your idea before any risk is taken or money is spent. To get started, book an orientation call. We will contact you and help you find the path to success!

Where can I get a grant to start my business?

Though limited specialty business grants surface from time to time, the Small Business Administration website states, “While the SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.”

Unfortunately, a lot of scams exist in the marketplace that prey on those who believe “free money” is available just for the asking or if they just submit the right plan to the right people. Do not fall prey to these scams! Most will ask for money up front and then disappear after payment has been made. Contact West Business Development Center, as we can help you prepare to seek proper and legitimate financing to start your business.

How do I get a business license?

A business license may be required by the city in which your business operates or by the county. Our Resources page will tell you who to contact for your business license. Depending on the type of business, you may need further state or federal licenses. If you have questions, please call West Center for assistance.

I’m a small business owner. Can I use West Business Development Center services?

Yes, West Business Development Center can assist any small business, with between 1 and 500 employees, located in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Is someone from West available to speak to my organization?

Yes. West Center is always available to speak to organizations. Please call our office at 707-964-7571 or send an email to

I live outside of Mendocino or Lake County, but my business is in Lake/Mendocino County. Can I become a client?

Yes, West Center can accept you as a client if your business is located in Mendocino or Lake County but you live outside of those areas.

I am located outside Mendocino County. Can I become a client?

West Center is unable to accept you as a client if you live and do business outside of our service area. We can, however, refer you to a Small Business Development Center in your area.