If you’re serious about owning a web design business, you must do it legally. That means getting a business license. Every state and locality varies on how a business license is obtained, and the costs involved. I’ll bet most places are cheaper than what I’m paying, however.
Keep in mind, I’m in California, a very regulation-controlled state. So your state may not have requirements like what I’m about to describe.
When I started my web design business I had to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement at the county clerk’s office. That cost a mere ten dollars, and I added a second business name for a few dollars more. It got expensive at the next step, however. The Fictitious Business Name Statement had to be published several times in a local newspaper. I checked around and decided to have the county-wide weekly paper publish this for me, and it cost fifty-three dollars.
Total cost so far: $65
Next I had to get a home use permit. Since I was a renter, I had to get my landlady to sign a statement giving her permission, and that had to be notarized. The notary public cost ten dollars, and the home use permit was fifty dollars.
Total cost so far: $125
The final step was to take all my paperwork to the county courthouse where the local county tax collector took my fee – sixty-six dollars for the year. In return I got a nice piece of paper to hang in my office, saying my business is legally licensed in this county.
Total cost so far: $191
Of course the sixty-six dollar fee repeats every year – the others don’t. I prefer the one-time-only fees. I still have a business license because though I’m no longer doing web design for others, I’m earning money through advertising on several sites I own.
I’ve checked business license fees in many other localities – and never find them to be as much as I’m paying here in Siskiyou County. It is enough to make your blood boil, especially when a huge business like Walmart can operate on the same sixty-six dollar business license fee that I’m having to pay every year.
Speaking of blood boiling. Imagine how a licensed business owner feels when someone comes into their town advertising to do the same job, when that other person isn’t licensed.
There are lots of people saying they will work as web designers, who aren’t licensed, and I’m here to tell you, it isn’t right, and if you try it, you’re likely to get bad vibes from people who are doing things the legal way. Personally, I don’t make snitch calls to report people like this, but it does upset me and make me angry when someone says he’s a web designer, but doesn’t take the time to set up the business legally. I’m sure web designers in other areas of this country feel the same way.
So if you’re going into business, play fair, and play by the rules. Get your business license so you can hold your head high and earn the respect that a business owner deserves.