new business questions

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    • #38978

      I’m just starting out, and the great advice in these forums has been extremely helpful. I’ve got some experience under my belt doing a couple weddings, but now that I want to get serious with it I was hoping some of you could share your experiences. Any suggestions on things I should do to formalize my business? Should I set up a LLC? How about insurance – what do I need and what are some places for decent rates? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • #169131

      Well as for the specific things you asked, an LLC would make you and your company seperate entities. So, if your business got sued, you would not be personally liable. There are, however, additional expenses and things you need to do to set it up. If you are the sole owner of the company and have no “employees” you can set it up as a sole proprietorship which means you are the business. When you do taxes, any business income is listed the same as your personal income and you can still write off equipment and other related expenses. If you have employees or a partner, you will need to set up an LLC (or LLP) or another type of corporation (LLCs are the cheapest). Or just if you want the security of being separate from your company. Either way, you can operate under a business name by registering that name with the state department of revenue (in my state it costs $8 and takes about 2 mins.) That way you legally own that name. If you plan to just use your name or “‘yourname’ videography”, in most states (maybe all) you don’t need to register the name since it is already yours.

      Make sure you keep good records and get a tax/accounting person if you do not know the laws. Also, make sure your taxes are in order and that you claim all your income. Being “self-employed” can be a red flag for a tax audit.

      As for insurance, there are definite advantages and without it you can be asking for trouble. Check with a local insurance broker that deals with multiple insurance companies (not like State Farm etc.) to find out what coverage you can get or need. As an ex-insurance person, I can tell you to check with at least 2 brokers to be sure you’re not getting jerked around. If you want to spend some time doing your own research, call around to the insurance companies directly. It may save you money over using a broker (but not always). As far as rates, it varies ALOT by state so check with them.

      Let me/us know if you have other questions and welcome to the good life!

      Oh yeah, make sure you have everything in writing with your clients! Get or write a contract that lists specifics without insulting the client. You are welcome to use mine as a guide if you want ideas. (Its on my website.)

    • #169132

      Great information – thanks very much! Just one follow-up…it seems the easiest route to go is sole proprietorship, but does that offer ample protection in our sue-happy world? Or does getting insurance keep me sufficiently protected? Thanks again for the help.

    • #169133

      Well, I have a Sole proprietorship for 2 reasons: I don’t own much that someone could take if they sued my business, and, the liability of my business is pretty much limited to the amount I charge which I would gladly refund if I destroyed someones wedding video. I would check, though, on the costs of a LLC in your state because if it’s not too expensive or too much trouble, that would maybe be a better way to go.

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