5 Steps to Establishing a New Business


2016 is almost here! Has anyone started considering New Year’s Resolutions yet? For any of you brave souls who have made resolutions, did starting your own photography business make it onto the list? If so, congratulations!

Starting a business can be quite overwhelming and daunting, though, can’t it? Perhaps that’s one reason why sometimes it is one of those pesky tasks that you always mean to do, but never actually get around to doing.  Of course the exact steps you need to take can vary depending on state and county laws in the U.S. since each state and county can make its own regulations, but if you’ve decided that 2016 is the right time for you to take the plunge here are five steps you should be prepared to take in order to set up your business the right way:

  1. Gather any required paperwork, if necessary, for the type of business you want to establish. You may or may not need to file this with your local government depending on the local laws where you live, but it is good to have and keep with your business’s paperwork. Here’s what you’ll need by business entity type:
    • Sole proprietorship: None required
    • Partnership: A partnership agreement
    • Corporation: Articles of incorporation
    • LLC: Articles of organization
  2. File for an EIN online through the IRS’s website if needed or desired. This should only take a few minutes and gives you an extra layer of protection so you won’t have to use your personal social security number for your business, plus it’s free! I highly recommend it. Note your new EIN in your business’s paperwork.
  3. Register for a DBA with your local government, if required. Sole proprietorships and partnerships will need to take this step if they are using a name other than the given names of the business owners. Some states and counties require you to take out an ad in a local paper giving notice that you will be operating under an assumed name; you’ll need to check with your local government to be sure.
  4. Submit your application for your business license with your local government. Most likely this will be done at your local county offices, but call ahead before you go down just to make sure you head to the right spot to get it taken care of.
  5. Register with your state for your sales tax, unemployment taxes, and/or local taxes. More and more local governments have options to register for these taxes online, making it simple and easy. If not, you will probably register for these at the same place where you submit your application for your business license. Again, check with a phone call just to be safe.

There may be a few more hoops to jump through depending on exactly where you live, but that list should give you a huge head-start on how to get your business set up legally. If you need help, employees at your county offices should be able to guide you through all the steps you need to take in order to get your business legal and legit.

Do you have even more questions and want even more help? Our next run of The Legit Department starts in January, and we go step by step through exactly what you need to do to open and operate a legitimate photography business. I’d love to help you get your own company up and running!

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Deborah Nash

Deborah Nash


Her best adventures always happen with her handsome husband, her kindergartener who is too smart for his own good (or hers!), her brave toddler who seems to have no fear whatsoever, and her brand new baby girl. She loves photography and how it allows her to capture all her adventures, big and small, and to keep them forever. In order to fund her love of all things photography, she works part-time from home as a CPA.
Deborah Nash

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