Business of the business

OK, so you have decided to start your own small business. I believe in adhering to the laws of the land, so if you don’t believe the same, skip everything I am about to say.

Let my mistakes be your lesson. I did not do my due diligence in two instances and paid someone to file my Sales and Use Certificate (which allows you to buy some business-related expenses tax-free and collect, report, and pay sales tax) paperwork, and my Federal Employer Identification Number (establishes you as a business in the eyes of the IRS). Both, as of today, are FREE.

When you google either, if, through the miracle of SEO (Search Engine Optimization — some businesses position themselves in the top 10 web search positions because that’s as far as most people read) a government website does not pop up, ignore it. Do you really want to pay someone almost $40 for a certificate you can apply for yourself in the same amount of time they take? You won’t receive it any faster, despite what you are told.

You need to file paperwork to do business as your business name. Without that, you cannot open a business checking account, which you will need to have to separate your personal accounts from your business account. In Newton County, it costs $25. I found a free notary through an old business connection.

A business address may be a good idea, especially if you would rather not publicize your personal address. Some Post Office-like stores have mailboxes you can rent by the month and issue addresses that sound like actual offices. PO Boxes set off scam alarms for the consumer, and are not looked upon as professional.

Finally, there’s the Business License itself. For a Sole Proprietorship like Great Nation Publishing, it costs $145 to establish and you have to renew it at the end of the year. In addition, the law requires you to pay for a business listing (name, address, and phone number) that will run in a local paper for two consecutive weeks. Here, in Newton County, you pay for it at the courthouse and it costs $40.

So, to recap, you need a Sales and Use Certificate, a FEIN, a DBA, a mailing address (if you prefer), a license and a public listing. Altogether, depending on how much your mailbox costs per month, you can be looking at anywhere between $220-$250. Take my advice: it’s always better to have your things in order and prepared, just in case they come checking for you. Be blessed.

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