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.
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’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.
Need a business license? I just chanced upon a great website for all your business licenses, tax registration forms and all kinds of permits. Thousands of businesses use their services every day to be in compliance. They cover every business license, permit, and tax registration from a California Business License to a Florida Business License and all-states in-between. I really think that you should check it out!
Its me Debbie again! I left out the most important thing from my comment. Their website is http://www.businesslicenses.com.
Thanks Debbie! Interesting site. Someone did a lot of research to put that together! I entered my zip code but didn’t get to the part where I got paperwork to file. It could be a good guide for learning what needs to be done to get a business license. I know when I started my business I couldn’t have afforded consultation fees. I did what I could on my own, after taking a business planning class from our local community college, which cost me nothing.
And another thing – I don’t know how having them apply for a business license would have saved me the trouble of all the preliminary paperwork I had to get together before the county would even consider issuing a business license. I think the best way to get information is to approach the city or county office that issues the licenses to see exactly what their requirements are. For many cities it could be a simple fee of less than ten dollars. I think I got ripped off by our county but this is where I live, so I have to put up with it to have a business here. $191 in fees and licenses just to get started is ridiculous!!
Thanks for sharing great ideas about applying license for business. I finally found out that it’s really a need to have your business be registered so that it will be legalized. Thanks.
I’m starting a web design business, and need to get it legalized, so this is a great article. I was having a big headache from not knowing where to start…and if I covered everything.