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What I Learned When Starting My Own Business
2014, Q4 (August 07, 2014)
Andrea J. Wenger, STC Associate Fellow
business people
© George Doyle, thinkstockphotos.com

I recently started an editing business. In the process, I discovered there’s more to it than I originally expected. Here are just some of the things I had to consider.

  • Sole proprietorship or LLC (limited liability corporation): Choosing whether to incorporate a business has financial and legal implications. Accountants and lawyers may differ in their opinions on the subject. Right now, I’m acting as a sole proprietorship, but that may change in the future. I don’t want my personal assets to be at risk if my business is sued.
  • Business name: Even though I’m currently a sole proprietor, I decided not to act under my own name. I registered with the county for a DBA (doing business as) name. The first step was to run an online search for the name to make sure it wasn’t already listed with the secretary of state for North Carolina. Then, I filled out a form available online, got it notarized, and sent it to the county registrar.
  • Business taxes: I had to contact the state treasurer’s office to find out what business taxes, including sales tax, I would be required to pay.
  • EIN: Even though I haven’t incorporated (at least not yet), I applied for an EIN (employer identification number). Banks are increasingly requiring one for a business account. It’s easy to get an EIN from the IRS. The form can be filled out online during business hours.
  • Contracts: Contracts define the scope of the work and offer protection in case of a lawsuit. Standard contracts available online might serve the first purpose. But for my own protection, I want the contracts for my business to be drawn up by a lawyer, specifically for me.
  • Insurance: I consulted my agent to discuss the coverage I need. My considerations included what might happen in case of a catastrophic event—one that impacts my customers’ data or my ability to make good on my agreements.
  • File storage: In addition to a backup drive for my computer, I now have cloud storage. Even if I lose my physical media through fire or theft, I won’t lose my data.
  • Expense tracking: Besides saving receipts, I keep a calendar where I can record expenses, like mileage deductions for driving to business meetings. Every penny counts!

My friends and colleagues have been extremely supportive through this process, pointing me to resources like the STC Consulting and Independent Contracting SIG website. It’s been great knowing that if I have questions, I’m not in it alone. I tend to be pretty self-sufficient (one of the reasons I’m starting my own business!) but it’s reassuring to know that the expertise of the STC community is available for me to draw on if I need help.

Andrea is a senior technical writer at Schneider Electric. She blogs about writing and personality at WriteWithPersonality.com. She can be reached at awengerstc at yahoo dot com. Read more articles by Andrea. End of article.

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