Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Start Your Own Business in Washington State

Today I came across a post on Craigslist asking for help to set up a simple LLC (Limited Liability Company). Since I have done this twice in the past three years, I decided to send a note letting them know just how easy it is to do for themselves. Don't waste your money on an accountant for something so simple that can be done over the internet! I realized after the note was sent that hey, maybe other people could use this information too! Seriously, setting up a small business (sole proprietorship or two-person partnership) in Washington state is blissfully easy - it only takes two steps!

You will need: the full name, address, and Social Security number of both individuals; internet access, a Credit Card to pay the fees

1) Get a WA State Business License
more doing business info:

2) Get a City Business License in whatever city you will be working from AND the cities your customers are in (not all cities require this, but Seattle does)

You're done!


3) Find out if you have to charge your customers sales tax
It should be a no-brainer that a retail business will have to collect sales tax from their customers. But some "service-oriented" companies do as well, while others don't

4) Set up any Trade Names/DBA's (Doing Business As) - the official name of the partnership is the names of the two partners, while the sole-proprietorship will be registered as your full name - probably not what you really want to name your business. When you are applying for your State License, there is a section to list any trade names you would like, at $5 per name. You can also add them later, but this requires refiling the license and paying the basic licensing fee again.

5) Pick up a book at the library or book store for more general "how to run a business" information
My favorite: Small Time Operator (subtitle: "How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay out of Trouble!" by Bernard B. Kamoroff, CPA

There is a ton of information out there for free on the internet or at your library, so go for it, and good luck!