Business and Startup Resources

Collections and Resources


Starting a Business in San Francisco (95:13) Presented by the San Francisco Office of Small Business  


This collection consists of resources on developing business plans. One of the most frequently used resources for this subject matter is the Business Plans Handbook which is a compilation of actual business plans developed by small businesses throughout North America.  This 51-volume set is available at the Main Library - 4th Floor - Business, Science & Technology Desk. Call No. 658.4012 B964 v1-54. It is also available online.

  • Gale Business: Entrepreneurship - The Business Plans Handbook mentioned above is available online via Gale Business: Entrepreneurship. Search through a library of hundreds of real business plans. Get advice with how-to guides, articles and websites. Under Browse Topics, find Plan, and select Business Plans.
  • LinkedIn Learning - Video instruction from industry experts on business, software, etc. Includes courses on developing business plans.  You will learn the process of defining your business, researching the market, and determining your product, thinking through your sales strategy, day-to-day operations, staffing, and financial forecasting. Examples include "Creating a Business Plan" and "The 45-Minute Business Plan".
  • Mergent Intellect -Find business plan templates in Word format by clicking on Learning Center, and then on Business Templates.
  • Plan Builder (Gale Business) - Grow, plan, and optimize a business/nonprofit. Utilize development tools and a step-by-step process to build a business plan. Click "Get Started" on that page to create your account.

Find resources on securing funding to start, run, and grow your business, including nonprofit businesses.

  • Main Street Launch - Working with the Mayor’s Office of Economic & Workforce Development (OEWD), Main Street Launch provides capital to businesses through the Emerging Business Loan Fund (EBLF) and other lending programs, offering small business loans from $10,000 to $350,000.
  • Accion Opportunity Fund - Provides $5,000 - $250,000 loans for small businesses, as well as educational resources and networking opportunities. 
  • Pacific Community Ventures - Provides loans and microloans up to $250,000 for small businesses that have been in business for at least 12 months.
  • Southeast Asian Community Center (SEACC) - A designated intermediary lender for the US Small Business Administration’s 7(m) Microloan program. This program provides commercial loans of $5,000 to $50,000, to small businesses that have been unable to secure conventional bank loans.
  • Working Solutions (WS) - Offers $5,000 to $100,000 loans for first-time business owner and serial entrepreneurs, including those with limited credit history, banking partners, and those who have been turned down for bank loans.
  • THE SAN FRANCISCO WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP FUND (SFWEF) - A joint project of MEDA in collaboration with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The Fund provides mini-grants of up to $5,000 to San Francisco women-owned small businesses for projects and upgrades that will have a transformative impact on the business’ ability to grow.
  • MEDA - MEDA's community loan fund, Fondo Adelante, provides $5,000 to $100,000 loans to small-business owners in the 9 Bay Area counties who cannot get a loan at a traditional bank.
  • LinkedIn Learning - Video instruction from industry experts on business, software, and more.   Includes a course on Finance Essentials for Small Business.
  • California Grants Portal - A centralized location to find new state-administered grant and loan opportunities.
  • Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) - The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and its partners provide small business consulting services and access to capital in the form of grants and affordable loans.
  • Office of Small Business - The Office of Small Business serves as the City and County of San Francisco's central information point for small businesses. Receive one-on-one free business counseling, register a new business, and more.

  • Step by step guide to starting a business in San Francisco - The Office of Small Business maintains this step-by-step guide to starting a business in San Francisco.

  • Starter guides for small businesses - The Office of Small Business has starter guides with resources and processes for the most common types of small businesses in San Francisco.

  • Find a grant for your small business - Information on small business grants currently available through the City and County of San Francisco 

  • Loans and borrowing money for your business - The Office of Small Business curates this page with information on things to consider when borrowing money to start your business, including city loan programs, nonprofit and community lenders, banks and more. 

  • California Business Search - The California Business Search provides access to available information for corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships of record with the California Secretary of State.

  • San Francisco Fictitious Business Name Search - Search for your business name on the Fictitious Business Name index to see if it is available. If your business name has already been filed with the San Francisco County Clerk's Office, you must choose another name.

  • San Francisco Small Business Development Center (SBDC) - SF SBDC provides small businesses with the solutions they seek and the confidence they need to realize their dreams. Explore their quarterly training schedules, be paired with a mentor, and more. Note: You have to currently be operating a business in San Francisco to become a client. Anyone can avail themselves of the training opportunities through SF SBDC, however.   

  • Small Business Administration, San Francisco - Receive assistance to start, grow, and build a resilient business. SBA is an independent agency of the federal government and serves to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small business concerns. Through SBA, explore financing options, receive free counseling, and explore low-cost training opportunities for entrepreneurs. 

  • San Francisco SCORE - SCORE can help you start, grow, or successfully exit a business. SCORE pairs entrepreneurs with skilled mentors. SCORE also offers a plethora of virtual training at no cost. 

  • Renaissance Center - Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center helps launch and maximize new and existing Bay Area small businesses, delivering services from training and consulting to business incubation, access to capital, networking, and special programs for women. 

  • Census Data - The Census Bureau Economic Programs (including the Economic Census) provide detailed statistics that businesses can use for business decisions and strategic planning.


The Main Library maintains an extensive collection of business directories that covers private and public companies in the United States and other parts of the world. Most of these directories are located on the 4th Floor of the Main Library for reference (in-library use) only.

Here are a few examples of our business directories in print:

  • Reference Solutions (Data Axle) - U.S. business and residential telephone directories, with detailed business information. For “the white pages,” search the U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles database within ReferenceUSA. Download limit: 250. 
  • Mergent Intellect - Access to private and public U.S and international business data, industry news, facts and figures, executive contact information, the ability to access industry profiles, and much more.
  • Mergent Online - U.S. and international company financials, ratios, news, and annual reports.


General Sources of Business Names

Search general business directories to find out what names are in use.

California Businesses

  • California Business Search - CA corporations (including nonprofits), limited partnerships (LP) and limited liability companies (LLC). The Business Search is only a preliminary search and not intended to serve as a formal name availability search. (See Name Reservations for more information.)

Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Search

Print Directories of Local Businesses

General Sources of Brand & Product Names

  • Brands & Their Companies - U.S. listings of trade names and products. Current
  • The Advertising Red Books (formerly "Standard Directory of Advertisers") - brands and advertisers are indexed by industry and location.
  • ThomasNet (manufacturers and their brands)

Sources for Specific Goods & Services

The Business, Science & Technology Center has many print trade directories for a wide range of industries. 

  • National Register of Apparel Manufacturers.
  • RN & WPL Encyclopedia - best source for identifying clothing labels and manufacturers. Up to 2009

Additional Suggestions

  • Search the Internet for your prospective trademark. Use a search engine like Google for a broad search or try an index such as Yahoo to concentrate on a business or product category.
  • Scan trade magazines for business and product names. Business Publication Advertising Source from Standard Rate & Data Service is an excellent source of industry publications. Check the Library’s catalog to see if SFPL has any of the industry titles.
  • Consult local and regional yellow pages.
  • For special types of businesses, consult a library center that specializes in a related subject. For instance, ask staff at the Art, Music, and Recreation Center about searching for band (music) names.
  • There are companies that perform trademark searches for a fee. They can be located in the phone book under “trademark consultants,” or found online in library databases such as Reference Solutions (Data Axel).