Becoming a small business person

So I had been going along making some money with my photography hobby, then a bit more, enough to buy new equipment, and of course I was paying taxes on that money, but was not keeping track of expenses. I also decided to put in a proposal for the gifts of art program at UM, which if accepted, would allow me to sell my framed photographs, which means charging state taxes, and I need to be a business owner to charge taxes… you see it was starting to get big.

So, time to become a small business. I looked around the internet researching different business options and decided that since I don’t intend to shoot weddings or other such situations that might end up with me being sued, and I’m not planning to have employees, I didn’t think I needed to become incorporated. Instead I went with the “sole proprietorship” model, which in Michigan is sometimes also referred to as DBA, or “doing business as,” such as me doing business as Susan Montgomery Photos.

So time to keep the money separate. I checked my local credit union’s website about opening up a business account, and found out that I had to bring a “Certificate of Assumed Name or Doing Business As Certificate.” A bit of research in the State of Michigan website and I downloaded the form, got the notary public signature, filed at my county courthouse, back to the credit union, and voila, I have a business account, with checks and a debit card, and I started a Paypal account in my business name. Small business person me, who’d a thunk it.

One of my big points here is that I didn’t know anything about this when I started. I just took it one step at a time, learned what I had to learn, checked with some friends to make sure I wasn’t making any terrible mistakes, and I keep learning. Don’t be intimidated. There is a lot of knowledge out there, seek it out as you need it. As my neighbor Linda says about running 5k’s, “It’s just taking one step after another.” If I can do it, so can you – really!

Disclaimer: I am merely sharing my experience here, I have no legal expertise, so please do your own research to determine which options works best for you.

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3 thoughts on “Becoming a small business person

  1. Thanks, Karen, and thanks for bringing up copyright – and for submitting the first comment on my blog, so excited! I try to remember to include copyright information within the photo file information, but I’m not always as thorough as I should, thanks for that reminder. I’d love to see what you find.

    I’ve also been thinking I should include some kind of copyright disclaimer on the blog – I have seen a few around and will be drawing up something there as well. Suggestions welcome!

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  2. I think this is great and you have made a step forward. The next step is making sure that your photos, the important part of your craft, are copyrighted. I will try to get that information for you and others who might be interested, since I am an attorney. However, my area of expertise is the criminal law arena but will do some digging and get back to you. Nice job.

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