In February, starting a business in San Francisco got a little bit easier. Mayor Ed Lee announced the launch of a free online tool that allows prospective business owners to determine which permits and licenses they need and then download them from one site instead of having to navigate multiple agencies. In addition to the necessary city forms, the tool provides more than 204 state forms and 100 federal forms related to various businesses.

License 123 is a partnership among the mayor's office, the Office of Small Business, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Department of Technology. Visitors first select the industry and then the business they want to open — ranging from day care services to a festival food booth — and are shown the needed permits, licenses and costs. For additional guidance, users are referred to the Office of Small Business, which offers service in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese. The site also can be translated into Spanish and Chinese using the Google Translate button.

Lee has expressed a desire to simplify launching and operating a business in San Francisco. In November, he unveiled the Enterprise Zone Web App to help business owners access Hiring Tax Credits online. License 123 is the first phase of a larger project to streamline the permitting and licensing process.

"Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy and a significant job creator," Lee said in a statement. "This new tool is a great example of how we are using technology and innovation to make government more responsive and efficient to help our businesses grow and succeed in our city."