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Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
JENNIFER L. ROBINSON
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/19/2007
 

Picked a Biz name NOW WHAT!??


Ok so i've come up with a few business names that I like. I'm not going to use my name. Where do I start? Does it have to be trademarked or registered and where do I do that at? Do I need to contact state about getting a license or something. Sorry i'm new to ALL of this..how scary :)

Thank you!


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8/20/2007 6:42:50 PM

 
Stacy L. Robertson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2006
  Well, depending on what state your in...I live in Ohio and I had to purchase a vendors license for taxes. I also purchased an add in the yellow pages. Maybe this helps?


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8/20/2007 7:17:46 PM

 
JENNIFER L. ROBINSON
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/19/2007
  I live in Oklahoma....


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8/20/2007 7:25:35 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  You need to visit the website of the Secretary of State where you live. I live in Louisiana, so I went to www.sec.state.la.us - your state might have a similar site. Once there, look for the commercial division, and it should tell you what you need to know about registering a trade name.

I decided to form an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) for my photo business. This helps to protect my personal funds and assets from possible claims against my business. To form CAVphotos LLC and register it as a trade name, I just had to download a couple forms, fill them out, have an attorney notarize them, and mail them in with the fees.

Depending on your location, you may also need to register with the local taxing authority for collection and payment of sales taxes. You should really consult with an attorney in your area to see what the proper steps are.

Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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8/20/2007 7:26:52 PM

 
Stacy L. Robertson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2006
  Absolutely good advice, take it!


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8/21/2007 7:50:14 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I'll tell ya what's REALLY scary Jen: The fact that you appear to be opening a business without doing a modicum of homework as to what's really involved. From your questions, it seems you're under the impression that all you need is a business name and a camera to go into your own photography business. That ain't all.

There are plenty of books available on how to start, run, and market your own business. Likewise, plenty of books available on professional business practices for photographers including forms for contracts, invoices, stock delivery memoranda, how to market and lists of professional associations to join.

While Chris is absolutely correct about finding an attorney (one that does a lot of business law would be helpful) there are also other outfits that can advise you like SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), courses at local jr. colleges, and seminars.

Usually once your register with one governmental entity, like the fictitious name business office of your local county recorder, they in turn, provide your name to every single county, state and federal government agency (like the IRS) for things like tax assessments, in California, the Franchise Tax Board, State Board of Equalization for sales taxes, county assessors office for business property taxes (that includes taxes on your cameras, lenses, computers, etc, used for business); fire inspectors (even if you're working out of your apartment). There are zoning rules you need to comply with because if you start running a business out of a rental property zoned for residence only, you can be evicted.

You also need business insurance, at least for your equipment and liability in case one of your lamp heads bursts and showers a live portrait subject with hot glass. If you're working on location, liability coverage is nice in case you break something, whether it's yours or someone elses.

In all honesty, I'm really not trying to scare you further, just trying to let you know some (certainly not all) of what you may be in for.

And congratulations on picking a business name. Now you need to know what to do with it, how to do it, where to do it, and whom to do it with. And before you do, realize what you're getting into. Statistically, the majority of small businesses fail within three years of start-up because of undercapitalization, poor management, not knowing the laws that apply to them, or combinations of those factors. Start by doing some research at your local library (forms for starting a small business), books, pamphlets, etc., and at your local county office building. Most of those people there will be glad to help you out and accept your fees.

There are a few general business-type questions that can be answered around here, but this is a lousy place to be getting legal advice. You need to be talking to someone well-versed in the start-up procedures for small business in your state and even county, for that matter.

Meanwhile, I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors and hope to be seeing you around here again soon.
Take it light.
Mark


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8/21/2007 8:16:37 AM

 
JENNIFER L. ROBINSON
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/19/2007
  Thanks everyone. I first want to say that I am doing this photography stuff for FUN and on the side. I still have a full time job and it's just something I want to do b/c I enjoy it! I dont care if it goes anywhere but if it does then great! If and when I have photo shoots I want to make sure that everything is legal and correct. Can I not be an independant contractor for myself in the photography field? Does that still require all the start up business stuff?


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8/21/2007 8:31:47 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well, being in business a "little bit" is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or aren't.

The fundamentals in the U.S., no matter where you reside, are that you need to pay taxes (federal and where appropriate, state) on whatever you earn by declaring it as miscellaneous income. The good news is that you may deduct what the IRS calls your "reasonable and necessary expenses" used to generate the income. That likely necessitate having an accountant or bookeeper initially set up your business record books to keep your own records for tax purposes. Or, you could just take a course or two in accounting yourself.

If you go beyond that, into registering a fictitious business name (doing business under a business other than your own name), then you're basically exposing yourself to those entities I mentioned earlier, among others, depending on where you live.

Sorry to report that no, you can't be an independent contractor to yourself. That's both a physical and legal impossibility. The phrase "independent contractor" status is a term of art that's usually defined in the state labor code. In most instances it requires an individual with a particular expertise to be hired by an employer to complete a particular assignment using their own talents, skills, and or equipment. There is no witholding tax for IC's in California, but the individual must still declare the income on their state and federal returns under the IRS rules and regulations. So, even if you could work for yourself, you're still on the hook for your own taxes.

Adios
M.


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8/21/2007 10:55:00 AM

 
JENNIFER L. ROBINSON
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/19/2007
  First i'd like to say i've done tons of homework "research" on opening my own business! I am just confirming things, making sure they are correct. Like you said there are tons of books out there, etc. but which one is the right one for me!? Do you have any specific books you recommend in reference to your statement "Likewise, plenty of books available on professional business practices for photographers including forms for contracts, invoices, stock delivery memoranda.... "

THANKS AGAIN!! sorry I keep coming back w/questions, i'm full of them :)


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8/21/2007 7:27:52 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Go to ASMP.org and click on publications or try a search at BN.com.
M


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8/22/2007 7:52:23 PM

 
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