Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Growing Pains: A Legal Foundation for Your Business

Put down the camera for a second and get into an entrepreneurial state-of-mind. Here are some great resources from photo attorney Carolyn E. Wright to help the creative right-side of our brains come in line with the logical (and hopefully money-making) left-side. Check out her blog to get more advice on securing a legal foundation for your business:

1. The IRS website - taxes are the most unpleasant issue, but at least it's easier today to learn about them. The IRS website is surprisingly user-friendly. The business section addresses subjects such as how to start and operate a business and includes a special section on small and self-employed businesses.

2. Your state's secretary of state website - each state has a website directed to topics such as establishing and registering your business and state tax requirements.

3. Your county's website - many county governments also have websites so that you can learn about the requirements to operate a business in the county. Conduct an Internet search on your county's name to find it. Click on "business" to find information on licenses and how to register your "fictitious name," also known as your "doing business as" (when you operate your photography business under a name other than your own or a state registered corporation or company).

4. Your own CPA - even with these great resources, it's still difficult to know how to organize your business and pay your taxes. Find your own CPA to help you with those issues.

5. Your own lawyer - despite the plethora of legal advice available from web forums, your legal circumstances are unique. The legal answer that worked for one photographer may not work for another. Find an attorney who can help you with your specific legal concerns.

I have taken care of points 2 and 3, having registered my company's name with the state and county. My accountant specializes in working with journalists so I think I have that covered. At some point I will need to acquire an attorney and get a better handle on my taxes when I start making more income.

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