You’ve been dreaming of quitting your job and starting your own business for years. Or you would love to turn your hobby into a legitimate money-maker. Or maybe you dove in head first and started your business already, but you know there are things…stressful, boring, important things…that need to be taken care of.
Do I need an EIN?
What the hell is an EIN?!
Do I need a permit to run a business out of my home?
Do I have to collect and pay sales tax?
How much do I collect, where do I send it, and when is it due?
Do I need to register with the state?
How do I protect my business name?
I really hate legal mumbo-jumbo…do I really need to get everything in writing?
Take a deep breath and let me touch on just a few of the details we all stress out about when thinking of starting our own business. Also, if these nitty-gritty details bum you out to the point of keeping you from going for it stay tuned! Below I will tell you about my new offer called Simply Startup that you are going to love!
1. What the hell is an EIN and do I need one?
An EIN (or Employer Identification Number) is the federal tax identification number you get from the IRS that helps them figure out how who you are and how much of your hard-earned money you should send in to them. If you are operating as a sole proprietor you don’t need one and can just use your social security number. But, since they’re super easy to get I would just go ahead and get one now and file all your taxes under that number. That way it’s done and taken care of so when your biz grows to super-human size in the very near future…you’re good to go!
2. Do I need a permit to operate a business out of my home?
Well, that depends. (Don’t you just love answers like that? I spent…actually owe…over $100,000 for law school to come up with brilliance such as this). It depends on where you live and what type of business you will be running. Generally, if your biz is online only and you will never have clients come to your home you likely don’t need one. But like many government regulations, they sometimes require them in order to keep track of who’s doing what and also to collect fees. So, you will need to do a little research for your town/city, county, and state to see what is required. (Spoiler alert: Simply Startup does all this for you!)
3. Do I need to register my business name with the state?
This will also vary by state, but for example in the state where I live (Minnesota) you must at least file a Certificate of Assumed Name unless your business name contains your full name. For example, my previous business was Karen Taggart Photography which contained my full name, so I did not have to file this certificate. If you register your business as a corporation, LLC, partnership or other legal entity (anything but a sole proprietorship), your name is registered as part of that process, so there is nothing extra you need to do. Also, if you have a more formal legal name, but do business under a slightly different name, you should file a DBA (Doing Business As) certificate as well.
4. Do I have to collect and pay sales tax?
Say it with me now…it depends. 🙂 Again, you have some research to do because whether you need to deal with sales tax or not depends on what products and services you offer and where you live. Just to make sure, I would also make a call to my state department of revenue just to make sure. No one wants the tax man knocking on their door. Uh uh. If you determine that you do need to hassle with sales tax, it is pretty simple to file online and the dates that you will need to file often depend on how much you collect. In the beginning, when revenue is (hopefully not) low you won’t have much to report, so sometimes you will only need to file a yearly return. Most often you will need to file quarterly. (Side note: In the interest of “going pro” you should give high priority to outsourcing your bookkeeping ASAP! That awesome person who looooves them some numbers can handle all of this for you!)
5. How do I make sure nobody steals my sh*t?!
Well, you can’t. But what the legal protections give to you are the back-up needed to protect yourself if you have the unfortunate experience of someone using your business logo, for example. In a very, very basic nutshell…you can and often should file for copyright, trademark, and even patent protection, but like every legal “device” out there it is really more of a sword than a shield. What?! That means that you can never stop someone from stealing from you or suing you, but you can use this legal protection to send a strongly worded letter from an attorney or to prove and hopefully win your case in court.
So, have I sufficiently freaked you out yet? I truly hope not! That was not my intention, but I know that these issues make people squirm in their seats, hyper-ventilate, reach for the wine, and feel like giving up before they even start. Fear not! Introducing…
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If you’d really love some help in this area or would prefer to just have someone else take care of it for you go here for more info.
Let me sweat the details and spend countless hours doing
boring research for you! (Wait…I’m having second thoughts). 🙂
Legal mumbo-jumbo part: This guide is business advice NOT legal advice. I am not your attorney. I am saving you a TON of time, headaches, and stress, but I can’t cover all possible legal issues and can’t even represent you if I wanted to outside of Minnesota. And if you’re lucky enough to live here too? I’m still not your attorney. You’d have to pay an attorney GOBS more money than this guide will cost you! 😉
If you’re a big DIYer like I am you will be able to find all the answers you need online and through a few phone calls. This isn’t rocket science, it just takes a whole lot of time to get all your ducks in a row. (Don’t ask me why there is this ridiculous need to have ducks be in a row. Personally, I find a scrambled grouping of ducks to be much more interesting).
Please don’t let the details stop you from going after your dream! You can do this!!!
We all learn lessons along the way and that’s a good thing. I’d just like to help you keep them to a minimum or at least make it more likely that your lessons aren’t the really painful type that could’ve been avoided. No one wants that.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Have the details of starting your business stopped you in your tracks? Or did you push through and you’re so glad you did?
Today I’ve gotten over 150 spam comments, so maybe that means I’ve reached some sort of “hey, you really are blogging!” plateau. Hmm…
Thanks as always and have a happy weekend!