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in business


in business

Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

I’ve been looking into self-employment, and managing a small business, with the idea of heading up that side of MS digital arts. It seems that tracking expenses for tax purposes is really the only trick, I expected it would be more complex than that. Perhaps I’m overlooking something, as I did with some of my home maintenance, but I’ve looked over a number of ‘starting a home business’ blogs, and feel like they would have clued me in if that’s the case.

The only part I don’t feel familiar enough with right now is the quarterly tax statements, rather than once a year for personal taxes. I still have to find out where these would be sent, and make sure I’m comfortable on calculating the amount. 20% seems customary, but I don’t quite know yet. I’ve been looking at some web services that track expenses, but I’m not ready to commit to paying for anything yet. As such, Wave is the one I’ve explored the most, since it’s free. There is another one that calculates the expected tax payments, which is really appealing, but I don’t know that the subscription is worth that feature alone.

We decided that we’d invoice through square, which my fella’ has experience with already, and their invoices are rather pretty. I don’t like the way it’s formatted for printing, or saving to pdf, but I guess not everything can be perfect. There is an invoicing service through Wave, but it looks rather amateurish in my opinion. I’d likely just use it for expense tracking, though if that’s all I’m doing, I feel like I might as well use an excel sheet, formatted for that purpose. It means I’d have to manually input all the information, which does leave more space for human error, so that’s something to consider.

No worries, though, since we have some time to figure all that out. I’ve registered our business name with the state, and we’ve gotten our EIN from the IRS, so we’re good to go, but want to start with the new year to make the tax preparation easier. I figure it’ll be nice to just synch it with personal taxes, and only have one sort of crunch session a year. I’ve never minded doing my personal taxes, so while I’m in the frame of mind, it’ll be nice to handle the business as well, though we might just use an accountant.

And there is also the consideration that we won’t be launching the business right away. From the initial conversation, we knew it would take a while to build a clientele, and just to have our services become known. As such, if a job becomes available, as is the case with my fella’, we’ll go with the steady income/benefits to make the move easier, and gradually build up the business once we’ve become more established in our new city. I’ve looked up meet-up groups for small business in Seattle, and it’s nice to see that there seems to be a pretty strong support group.

So, while the business is exciting, and all the flexibility that will come with it …as well as some stresses I’m sure, it’ll be a while before we count on it for our primary income. I’m not sure it it’s better for me having more time to consider things, and get my ducks all in a row, or if I’ll lose momentum with this more relaxed implementation. I suppose that’s something that we’ll see down the line!