Responsibilities of Starting a Creative Business
Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and experience, and is not to be taken for legal advice.
The idea of starting a creative business may seem intimidating to some, and to others they may not be taking it seriously enough.
Either way starting a business is "serious business", but you shouldn't be scared by it either. Here are the responsibilities to consider as you make an educated decision whether or not to make the leap.
You'll need to register for a DBA, and potentially a business license in your state.
You'll need to be ready and willing to go down to your county clerks office and file some paperwork.
Self-Employment Taxes, Income Taxes, and in a lot of states, Sales Taxes. You'll need to be ready to set aside money each time you make money through your business, to go towards those taxes at the end of the year. You'll also need to potentially file for a state sales tax permit, collect sales tax on each product or service you offer, and then send the sales tax to the state quarterly.
This is a place where a lot of young business owners skimp. The thought of finding and paying the right attorney sounds intimidating and daunting. If you don't do this though, you had better be willing to do a lot of your own thorough research to make sure that you are comfortable enough with your contracts. And know that even then if for some reason you have a crazy client who wants to sue you, they still may not hold up in court. This is a scary responsibility, and definitely one you need to think through carefully.
For photographers, my best recommendation of where to start on this though is over at thelawtog.com
Recording Keeping You need to prepare to keep through records. Records and copies of each contract. Receipts from all business expenses (even that trip to starbucks with a potential client) so that you can properly figure out business tax deductions later on. Records of how much you make each quarter, how much you make in a year, who paid you what, and what taxes you already paid to the IRS if you made estimated tax payments.
If you're ready to face the music of these things, and not skimp on any of them, then I would say you are ready to start your business. Even if you have to just bite this all off a chunk at a time (maybe spend a month or so figuring each of these topics out as you get ready to launch your business) you can make it! All of this costs money though, so head on over to this post: Photography Startup on a Budget