Hello! My humble opinion:
Since that is a personal business and you sure want to start small for the meantime, I think your government shall exempt you from taxes, permits, etc. especially if the income or profit is still small.
Then you can start with your close friends, family and relatives as customers. Your main concern then is to sustain your business. By the time you need to expand because your customer base expands (and your income too), then that is the time you have to do some legal registration.
I am not sure with PA but please take time to ask a government entity of what the regulations are. You see regulations differ from country to country. Hoping you success!
Thank you for your help... This is pretty much what I have been doing. I have done multiple family, senior, and weddiing photos. I have done this for family and close friends and they have given me some of the best referrals so I am now ready to start the legal procecss. I want to start advertising, start a website, pass out the business cards I have had for months. What I want to make sure of before I do all this is make sure I have everything from a legal aspect done. So I can propery pay taxes on my income and so on..
I come from a small area where there are other photographers, and a lot of people that if your not doing something legally correct they would rather turn you in for something then help you fix it. Which is why I am in need of assistance on this.
Amanda, You keep using the words "legal and legally"
For that you need a lawyer.
A better suggestion is to get or hire an accountant.
The accountant will make sure that you and your books are kept correctly.
Then you will be able to sleep nights
I just want to make sure everything is done correctly in a business aspect. I have contacted a couple lawyers in my area that specialize in this are, and just to have a consultation with one of them it is $100.00 and over starting at a half an hour of their time. We have a lawyer for some things we have done in the past, I do have an appointment with him and am gathering information as much as I can before I meet with him next month.
All the comments on here have been helpful, I have already acquired my EIN, I am working on the domain name now and I am not sure if I need to file a fictitious name or not. I plan on doing my own accounting and even though it has been smalls fees I have gotten this far I have done quite well at keeping track of all money coming in and going out.
Nope, still not exempt from taxes, licenses, etc. unless this would just be a hobby. It's best to 'start as you intend to go on' from a legal perspective.
The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC
Start by going to www.choosewhat.com for a comprehensive list of setting up your business. I would check with the PA Secretary of State's office regarding registering a business in your State. Some cities will also require you to set up a business account. Again, the sect'y of state can tell you all of that - they should have an online site that will direct you toward small business requirements in PA.
If you are wanting to set up a legitimate business, you WILL need to track your income/expenses and pay taxes on your business profits (even if you do it as a solo-preneur) so be sure and keep good records. Technically, we are even supposed to pay taxes on garage sale earnings (like anyone reports THOSE! )
The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC
Amanda. If you contact SCORE as Office Goddess suggested, please let us know if SCORE was helpful.
Different states approach this different ways. In most states, you don't need to register at the state level if you use your name as your business name. Here in California, even for a sole proprietorship using the natural person's name, you may still need to obtain a city business license. Some cities try to restrict home-based businesses (mine requires an impact report, parking, etc. if you have clients that come to your home).
Here in California, if you are using a "ficticious business name" such as "Barb Jones Photography", you have to file a ficticious business name statement with the county, and publish a notice three times in the legal section of a particular newspaper(s). If Barb simply called her business "Barb Jones" and had "Photography" as one of her services, then it would be a sole proprietorship and does not need a ficitious business name. Creating a LLC or registering a partnership requires city license, ficitious business name registration, and registration with the state.
PA is probably not as strict as California, but it looks like state registration is required for a sole proprietorship that is using a ficitious business name. The state does have an Entrepenuer's Guide at: http://www.newpa.com/webfm_send/1439 and it says on page 4:
"If your business will be a sole proprietorship and you will be using an assumed name, you must check the avail ability of the name you have chosen and register it."
That checklist on that page is pretty good; the rest of the PDF doesn't appeal to me very much.
Nolo Press has some inexpensive books on running a home-based business, and what qualifies you for home office deductions, etc.I purchased the "Working for Yourself" book, and it's been helpful (especially on tax, withholding, etc.)
If you have all the equipment you need then you only need to file a fictitious name filing with the department of state $70. run a ad in local newspaper about the filing. when you get the form back you are in business as a sole proprietor. Check locally in your town about a license if you need one THAT'S it.
I have been taking photos for a long time, recently I starting doing photo shoots for a small fee. I decided in December to start my own photography business. Being a stay at home mother, all of our children are in school and needing a flexible schedule, turning my passion into a career seemed the best choice.
I have gotten my EIN number, and have been reading so many things on the steps of starting a small business in Pennsylvania. However many sites say different things...
What are the legal necessary steps that need taken to be able to call my self a Photography Business in my state.
Any information will help them you...