Welcome, and congrats on your decision to become an independent business subcontractor! More and more companies are looking to outsource their jobs to independent contractors, and as the freelance market continues to boom, customers will be increasingly expecting on-demand appointments and instant service. Becoming an independent, self-employed contractor is ideal for experts skilled in a profession, such as plumbing, electrical work, drywall, roofing, and auto detail. Subcontractors can take advantage of the flexibility of owning a business to meet these and other growing demands of both larger companies and customers. Here, we’ll dive into the main emotional, financial, and legal ideas to consider as you start your own subcontractor-based small business.
Before even considering the financial and legal sides of starting a business, you need to make sure that you have the emotional strength to work through the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Handling 100% of the failures, in addition to the successes, can cause severe stress and anxiety. Therefore, for those who are prone to severe anxiousness or stress about their career, going the entrepreneurial route is not advised. However, if you determine that you have the mental fortitude to become an independent subcontractor, here is the best advice you’ll ever get for starting a business.
After considering your emotional capacity to handle the demands of entrepreneurship, the next step is to determine the initial funding for your business. Will you need family and friends to invest? Will you have outside investors? Do you have a savings stockpile to fund the enterprise yourself? It can be awkward and relationship-damaging asking family and friends for funding, especially if the business fails. Therefore, asking friends and family should be the last resort. If you are an expert with a long track record in a trade that is in demand, you likely have spent years building a reputation with clients. As a result of this hard work, you should feel comfortable that your business will succeed if you continue this excellence and are able to book business through your network of past and current clients. In this case, a business loan with a low-interest rate is an attractive option without having to rely on investors or large savings.
Once the business is up and running, you can take advantage of setting your own hours and taking in all the profits, two of the major attractions of owning a small business. In addition to these benefits, you can take advantage of tax deductions for small businesses on home expenses, driving expenses, and depreciation expenses on property and equipment that you cannot deduct from your personal taxes.
Once the emotional and financial considerations are taken care of, you can start handling the legal aspects of starting a business. For starting a subcontractor business, sole proprietorships are most common due to their cost-effective and streamlined application process. However, as a sole proprietorship, your personal assets will be intertwined with the business. In the case that the business goes bankrupt, you can be held liable to pay off the business’ debts. On the other hand, if you’re willing to cover the greater financial cost and longer application process of creating a limited-liability corporation (LLC), you will NOT be held personally liable for the business’ finances since you and the business are separate legal entities. For further advice on whether to form a sole proprietorship or an LLC, as well as have access to an entire team of small business lawyers for the fraction of the usual hourly rate for legal assistance, check out JUSTLAW’s legal plans for small businesses.
Alex Safarian is an attorney who litigates a wide range of claims, including Personal Injury, Unlawful Detainer, Fair Housing, Discrimination, Wrongful and Retaliatory Eviction, and Breach of Lease, and is well respected by defense attorneys, judges, and insurance companies in Los Angeles and neighboring counties for his integrity and compassionate representation of his clients.
Safarian is a member of Los Angeles Bar Association, Armenian Bar Association and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and keeps close relationships with other Attorneys in his field.
Ryan Block is a seasoned trial attorney who has represented thousands of clients as the lead trial attorney and has appeared in front of over 50 judges in the Los Angeles County and surrounding areas. Mr. Block’s reputation has allowed him to have tremendous success early in his career as the founding partner at Block LLP. Mr. Block ensures his firm has excellence in service and consistency of results for each of his clients. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, Ryan earned his law degree from Southwestern Law School. Ryan began his legal career with the office of Dennis P. Block and associates, working on real estate litigation.
On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID–19”. This Order would be more colloquially described as the “CDC’s Eviction Moratorium.” This Moratorium was passed in an effort to address concerns that the economic effects of the pandemic on renters would lead to a glut of evictions and, by proxy, increased spread of COVID-19 among the newly unhoused. Specifically, the Moratorium’s statement of intent was:
“This Order shall be interpreted and implemented in a manner as to achieve the following objectives:
Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within congregate or shared living settings, or through unsheltered homelessness;
Mitigating the further spread of COVID-19 from one U.S. State or U.S. territory into any other U.S. State or U.S. territory;
And supporting response efforts to COVID-19 at the Federal, State, local, territorial, and tribal levels”
In support of this ideal, the CDC Moratorium was designed broadly. Functionally, if any rent-paying tenant, in any state, signed a declaration stating that they were suffering from COVID-19-related financial distress, and provided a copy to their landlord, then they could not be physically evicted until the expiration of the Moratorium, for non-payment of rent related reasons. On paper, the Moratorium threatened potential criminal penalties for any landlord who violated this order.
In practice, the Moratorium did not prevent any Landlord from filing an unlawful detainer action against their tenant. Presenting the declaration to a Court, in effect, stopped the clock until the order expired. However, there cannot be any doubt that the Moratorium was broad in scope. Provided the requisite declaration has been signed, any tenant, of any type, would be covered.
It was an order unconcerned with individual considerations. It was, as designed, an attempt to provide all tenants a back door when facing imminent eviction. While other statewide,
county, and city eviction moratoria provided similar protections to tenants in their relevant communities, the CDC Moratorium’s protections covered all tenants in all 50 states.
WHY DID IT END?
As originally designed, the order was to expire on December 31, 2020. The idea was that the Moratorium was a temporary stop-gap to help with the fears of the wildfire spread of COVID-19 during the winter of 2020 due to the imminent risks posed by evicting people.
When the spread of COVID-19 did not show signs of improvement by late December 2020, Congress extended the Moratorium for one month. After this, Congress did not provide for any other extensions of the Moratorium.
However, where Congress was silent, the CDC stepped in. Each time a new deadline approached, the CDC would extend the order unilaterally.
Predictably, this did not go unnoticed by Landlords and their associated groups. Many challenges were brought against the CDC’s Eviction Moratorium in the Courts.
Eventually, one of these challenges wound its way to the Supreme Court in Alabama Association of Realtors, et al. V. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., 2021 WL 1946376 (May 14, 2021)
ROUND ONE: ALABAMA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, ET AL. V. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTHAND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.,
As summarized by the Supreme Court, Alabama Ass’n of Realtors v. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs. arose when,
“Realtor associations and rental property managers in Alabama and Georgia sued to enjoin the CDC’s moratorium. The U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, holding that the CDC lacked statutory authority to impose the moratorium.”
While a significant number of courts throughout the nation had previously found that the CDC overstepped its bounds with the Eviction Moratorium, the District Court’s order went further. The Court summarized its ruling as follows,
“the question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not. Because the plain language of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264(a), unambiguously forecloses the nationwide eviction moratorium, the Court must set aside the CDC Order, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(C), and D.C. Circuit precedent, see National Mining Ass’n, 145 F.3d at 1409.”
Through this order, the District Court nullified the CDC’s Eviction Moratorium at a nationwide level. Unsurprisingly, the above ruling was appealed, and the Court stayed its order pending the appeal of the Dept. of Health and Human Servs. When the D.C. Circuit Court did not vacate the stay, the dispute was brought before the Supreme Court.
On June 29, 2021, the Supreme Court denied the application to vacate the stay imposed on the District Court’s order on a 5-4 vote, with Justice Kavanaugh casting the deciding vote.
However, Justice Kavanaugh’s concurrence to the order explained that he was only siding with the majority on this because the CDC’s moratorium was set to end on July 31, 2021 and that a few weeks would “allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds.” On the merits, he stated “I agree with the District Court and the applicants that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium,” and that in his view, clear and specific congressional authorization would be necessary for any further extensions of the Moratorium.
This concurrence was meant as a signal to the other two branches of government. For the executive, it was a clear warning that if the CDC again unilaterally extended the Eviction Moratorium, the Court would strike it down. For the Legislature, it was a statement that only Congress could extend or continue this nationwide eviction moratorium.
However, Congress failed to pass any laws or orders that would extend the CDC’s Eviction Moratorium or impose a new national Eviction Moratorium. As such, the Order lapsed on July 31, 2021.
In the absence of any action by the Legislature, the CDC, with full warning of the potential consequences, reinstated the Eviction Moratorium extending its protections until October 3, 2021.
In response, the Plaintiffs in Alabama Association of Realtors, et al. filed an emergency application with the District Court to vacate the stay currently in place.
Within the space of a few weeks, Plaintiff’s application of was again in front of the Supreme Court.
The COVID-19 pandemic was, or should I say is, one of the most devastating tragedies to strike the world. Fortunately, the world is starting to enter a new realm of “normalcy” that Americans have not quite experienced since 2019. Perhaps, you are starting to feel comfortable not wearing a mask in public or maybe you’re finally going back in the office to work alongside your favorite co-workers. Whatever that “normalcy” for you might be, you should take a second to look back on the pandemic. Remember the loved ones we lost and the loved ones we luckily still have with us. But also reflect on the effects of the pandemic. Did you struggle financially? Did you lose your job? Did you feel prepared for the pandemic? You are not alone. Regardless of your answers to the aforementioned questions, take a second to view what JUSTLAW attorneys have to say are the five biggest lessons they have gathered for themselves as a result of the pandemic.
Set a budget for yourself and your family.
Sit down with your spouse and your family and prepare a weekly budget for everyone to follow. Doing so will help you ensure that any unexpected job loss, stock market decline, or loss of income will not negatively affect your finances. Plus teaching your children some valuable lessons on finances is never a bad thing!
Appropriately manage your investments.
Diversify, diversify, diversify! Invest safely. Do not put all your money in risky investments. Place a significant pool of your money in safe investments and diversify those investments across a wide array of areas such as energy, tech, or any other area you have confidence in moving forward.
One lesson COVID-19 specifically taught us is that bonds are extremely safe and can even survive the worst earthly disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic first started to affect Americans, the S&P 500 sunk by 34%. Despite that, a portfolio that was comprised of bonds aided numerous investors in staying financially sound. Moreover, many bond investors did not feel compelled to sell off their investments based off emotion, nerves, or worries over their new pandemic reality. Such a calmness and confidence provided these particular investors with bonds that outperformed the market during its worst results in years. Therefore, bond investors were able to pull the profits out of their appreciated bonds and invest them in widely undervalued stocks that had largely dipped due to the pandemic. This is a small example of how we can grasp lessons from the pandemic and apply them to our own lives for financial freedom.
However, keep in mind that bonds are meant to keep you safe and rarely should be utilized as a source of quick profits. Bonds should primarily be used to keep your money safe. Thus, if you are looking to build your money, enter the stock market. But remember, to always diversify!
Set aside money for emergency use only.
This is such an important lesson to take away from the pandemic. An emergency fund does not have to be large and can simply be stored in a checking or savings account. The fund should only be used for situations where large cuts to your income would significantly lessen your spending. When emergency strikes, you will not have to worry about a lack of groceries, clothes, or essentials that every human needs for day to day life.
During the pandemic, many of those who lost their jobs had to wait weeks and, in some instances, months, for their unemployment benefits to kick in. Thus, while an emergency fund does not have to last you an entire pandemic, it can most certainly last you enough time to outlast a wait period in between a lost job and unemployment benefits.
Monitor your credit score.
It is equally as important to always monitor your credit score and ensure it accurately reflects your finances. You never want to have a bad credit score. And if you do, it is time to start bulking it up. Credit scores represent your ability to pay and after the COVID-19 pandemic, ability to pay has never been so important.
Create an Estate Plan.
What are you waiting for? Create a will! If you haven’t done so already, then perhaps the pandemic did not scare you enough. Every American, regardless of their age, needs a will. Life strikes fast, and unforeseen global pandemics spark when they are least expected. A lack of a will forces your estate into intestacy. Jump over here for a fantastic dive into intestacy and learn the very many reasons why you never want to hear your name and intestacy mentioned in the same sentence.
Bottom line is every American needs a will and among other documents, including a trust, living will, and a durable power of attorney.
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Do you have any other lessons you would like to share? Call or email us and tell us your story. We want to hear not just from our clients, but any and everyone. After all we are a public benefit corporation and so we want to ensure every American is protected and their personal finances are in order.
Dov S. Rosen is a JUSTLAWnetwork attorney who represents private and publicly-traded companies in negotiating mergers, acquisitions, private placements, IPOs, and commercial contracts. He also has an active practice negotiating commercial real estate loans, property acquisitions, and commercial leases.
Dov graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011 and, in 2020, founded The Law Offices of Dov S. Rosen.
Cash is the lifeline of any business. And the key question for your business is how that cash flows in and how it may be expected to flow out. This leads us to the first big choices your business will make: how to raise money, whom to raise it from, and what to give up in return.
Early-stage startup investors will often include family and friends, “angel” investors (generally, high-net-worth individuals who are willing to invest in early-stage companies in exchange for preferred equity), and – for particularly promising new companies – venture capital firms. Nowadays, crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe are also becoming increasingly popular for early-stage companies (we will explore the advantages and limitations of crowdfunding in a later installment). For startups later in their business lifecycle, institutional investors may play a greater role, and for more advanced companies the public equity markets may become relevant.
Each of these investors will have different expectations about what they will receive in return for their money. Typical forms of startup capital include common equity, preferred equity (often with the right to convert to common at a later time), and convertible debt (debt with a right to convert to equity at a later time). Other equity structures like simple agreements for future equity, or “SAFEs”, offer distinct advantages and disadvantages and are becoming more common. And for many businesses, business loans (including SBA loans for qualified borrowers) are a good option for providing initial capital – but with their own advantages and disadvantages. We will discuss these various types of startup capital later in our series.
A note on securities laws:
Our focus is on early-stage startups engaging in private offerings that are exempt from registration with the SEC or other state regulatory commissions. Securities laws are not just for public companies – any company that issues equity to raise money is potentially subject to them and must fall within an exemption avoid registration and reporting requirements. In later parts of this series, we will speak about the various exemptions from securities laws and
how to make sure you stay within the rules throughout your business lifecycle.
Cash will almost always come at a cost. To make your idea a reality, you will inevitably have to trade a piece of ownership over the idea you have created and often a degree of control over the business you are building. But that does not mean all equity raises will have the same impact on the future of your business. The choices you make early on can determine the evolution of your business for years to come, preserving your flexibility and a large degree of your control. Conversely, a sub-optimal equity structure, poor entity choice, or improperly drafted company agreement can hamstring your ability to raise cash, leave you stuck with a bad partner, and even cost you the control you need to make your business grow.
But making necessary trade-offs is a natural part of the growth cycle of every business. The key is to establish clear expectations and to structure investments in a way that respects the needs of investors while preserving your ability to grow the business. The trade-offs you will have to make will generally come in the following areas: keeping cash in the business, keeping the flexibility to raise more cash, and keeping control over business decisions
At bottom, these Terms are a legal document. They create a contractual relationship between the website visitor and the website owner. Such Terms clarify various aspects of that relationship, from conditions of providing service, IP ownership, the code of conduct of one user in relation to the other, limits of liability if something goes wrong, disclaimers, and how a user can be suspended from usage.
Because of the legal nature and protection afforded by Terms, they are a ‘must- have’ for all the parties who desire to run their business or offer service efficiently and without any hindrance. These Terms are essentially sine qua non for every company or business who desires to flourish online. This furnishes a need for the development of code of conduct to regulate the user-service provider relation and at the same time govern the relation among different users with ensuring minimal interference with their right to privacy and self-expression.
While is it true that a business does not require legally to set up Terms at the initial stage of their business, to ensure clarity and avoid misunderstanding any good business attorney will recommend that you do so. Such Terms and conditions legalize the control of the service provider on deliberating as to what is acceptable and what is not.
There are a number of inherent advantages that are provided by the Terms. One of the most important is permitting a site owner to limit the scope of their liability by adding disclaimers, affording substantial protection to the owner in case any error presents itself on the website. Another important benefit of setting up such governing regulations is allowing the effective use and applicability of the Intellectual property law which allow the website owner to product their trademarks, copyrights, patent and other intellectual property or proprietary rights which may be registered or not. This advantage allows the website owner to protect their content, logo, design etc. Furthermore, such terms and conditions are one of the main policies of every company or website owner which ensure that their website offers a safe environment, free from any abuse, misuse etc. It also allows parties to establish guidelines for suspending account, to mention the laws applicable and the terms to be followed in case a dispute arises.
Quick primer from your friends at JUSTLAW on how to use Florida’s Sunbiz system (3 min read)
Florida is on fire these days from a business and cultural perspective. For that and other reasons, we see a lot of folks wanting to form new companies in Florida. If you want to form an LLC in Florida, you should read on. There are 4 steps to get your LLC started:
Understand the requirements for filing your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
Assemble and organize the information you’ll need to file.
Complete the online Sunbiz Articles of Organization.
Pay for the filing with an acceptable method of payment.
No. But we find it to be the fastest, most convenient manner of filing. But you can also download an Articles of Organization application and then submit your application and payment by mail. When submitting by mail, you must pay with either a money order or check.
Do I need to hire a registered agent?
No. But many entrepreneurs do for a few reasons. A registered agent agrees to ALWAYS accept mail and lawsuits on behalf of the business. You may move and change addresses in the future, but the agent won’t (or at least will keep the records updated). In addition, hiring a registered agent, like JUSTLAW, will help you personally keep private. Many entrepreneurs value the privacy.
After filing the Articles of Organization, how long will it take for them to be processed and posted?
It depends on how you filed and current demand, but it’s typically fast. Sunbiz is a remarkably efficient engine for the State of Florida. If your Articles of Organization were submitted and paid for online, they are processed in the order received, which typically results in a 2-3 day processing time. If you submit the Articles by mail, expect processing time in the 3-5 business days range.
How can online forms be signed?
Under s.15.16, F.S. typing your name will fulfill the signature requirement. Legally, e-signatures are the same as physical signatures. If you sign someone else’s name without their permission, this is considered forgery.
How do I get a copy of my Articles of Organization?
After your Articles of Organization have been posted, you can download a free copy at Sunbiz.
Why would my application be rejected?
Every application will be closely reviewed to make sure they meet state requirements. In the event your application is rejected, you likely failed to fulfill one of these requirements.
What can I do after my application has been rejected?
You can make any necessary corrections to your Articles of Organization by visiting the Sunbiz website and entering your PIN and tracking number.
Limited Liability Company Name
Florida, like most (if not all) states, requires you to have a unique name for your LLC.
Before you submit your formation documents, you should perform a search to determine the availability of your LLC name. In addition, make sure that the name of your company includes the words limited liability company, or LLC/L.L.C. If you’re establishing a professional limited liability company, the name of your company should include the abbreviations PLLC or P.L.L.C, or the words Professional Limited Liability Company or Chartered. You should not use your LLC name until it has been approved by the Division of Corporations.
If you need help with your LLC Sunbiz filing, you can use the JUSTLAW marketplace to find a top attorney at an affordable price. At JUSTLAW, we have over 300 attorneys in our network, and many of them are drawn from top law schools like Yale and Harvard, and have worked in the top firms in the world.
Most lawyers won’t tell you this, but you can form an LLC by yourself. It’s fast and affordable. You’ll need a little patience and attention to detail, but that’s it. And for a very limited time, JUSTLAW will even do the work for you. Free of charge! That’s right. See the button below for more details. (Estimated 3 min read)
Want to form a limited liability company (LLC) yourself, quickly and cheaply? To do so, you need to select a business name, appoint a registered agent (which in some cases can be you), file the Articles of Organization, obtain an Employer Identification Number, and open a business bank account. The time and cost associated with forming a new LLC varies by state.
The LLC Business Type
The LLC entity type is probably the most popular business type in 2021. This popularity stems from its flexible nature, limited liability protection and ease of administration, especially in contrast with traditional corporations. Many entrepreneurs would like to set up an LLC, but have avoided it due to time and costs. A traditional attorney might charge upwards of $2,500 to form an LLC and complete and prepare the associated paperwork. This essential primer will help you understand how you can form an LLC by yourself.
Clear the Name
Searching your state’s database of corporate names before you file the Articles of Organization might be a good idea. If your name is relatively common, someone else may have already taken it. That would lead to your filing being rejected. Many secretaries of state, such as Delaware, have free, online databases where you can research the availability of any name you have in mind. In some states, you can even reserve a name online by paying a small fee. Naming requirements may vary slightly from state to state, but generally you must assure:
Your LLC name must differ from the names of other businesses that are already registered in the state; and
Your LLC name must contain a limited liability signifier, such as “LLC”, or “Limited Liability Company”. Eg, ACME LLC.
Get a Registered Agent
The name and address of a registered agent are normally required on the formation papers for your LLC. An agent is a person or entity tasked with receiving legal papers on behalf of your LLC in the event that your company is sued. The agent must have a physical address in the state and must be available during work hours on all workdays for this purpose.
Articles or Organization are usually submitted to the state’s Secretary of State along with a filing fee. When the Secretary of State accepts your Articles of Organization, your LLC has officially been formed. Many states will accept articles and have your company “live” in 24-48 hours. This document provides the fundamental details on your business, such as:
The name and address of the company.
The business purpose of the company (e.g., “to engage in e-commerce cat food sales”).
A statement on whether the company will be managed by a manager or the members.
The name and address of the registered agent of the LLC.
Although successfully filing the Articles of Organization indicates that the state recognizes the LLC, there are additional steps to get yourself truly in business.
After the Articles have been filed and accepted, other considerations are:
Publishing the Articles of Organization. In some states, such as New York, new LLCs must publish the fact of their formation in a local newspaper and to file an affidavit of publication with the state. Publication costs can exceed $1,000, so you should consider this fact when selecting a state.
Drafting an operating agreement. You will not file your operating agreement with the state, but you need one as an internal contract between the members of the company. If you have partners, or other members, you should likely find a good business lawyer to help you with this work.
Procure an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Banks and governments both require an employer identification number. This number acts, in essence, as a social security number for your new company. EINs are available free at the IRS website.
Getting a business bank account. Your LLC will need a business bank account or the members’ limited liability protection can be called into question by the authorities.
Determine if your business requires a license. Some states or cities may require you to obtain licenses to do business. It varies by jurisdiction and a complete survey is beyond the scope of this primer, but Google will at least get you started.
Hopefully, this primer gives budding entrepreneurs all they need to set up an LLC alone. If not, and you’d still like to set up your own LLC, for a limited time (through Labor Day 2021), JUSTLAW will do the paperwork for free. JUSTLAW maintains a network of over 300 attorneys in all 50 states. Our lawyers graduated from places like Harvard, Yale, Berkeley and UVA. Click the button below to get started.
In a recent podcast from the Wall Street Journal, a different kind of outbreak was featured in the episode “Why is everyone quitting?” Workers, especially young ones, are leaving their full-time jobs in droves in search of more satisfying, more flexible and often more lucrative work. In fact, 2.7% of workers quit their job in April 2021, according to the podcast. And freelancers are more in demand than ever before, as everyone from small businesses to large corporations hires freelancers for a variety of projects, ranging from copywriting and web development to catalog design and consulting.
Working as a freelancer typically means working your own hours ( remember, if you’re successful, you’re going to have a new boss: your clients) on your own terms. But it also means sourcing your own clients and managing an entire business yourself.
If freelancing sounds like the right fit for you, this guide can help you. Below we outline 9 simple steps you should take in order to get started in your new career as a freelancer.
1. Set up a website. Establishing an online presence for yourself is important. Clients need to be able to look at your work and find you quickly. Maintaining a basic website is fairly simple. Nowadays, no-code platforms like Squarespace allow you to get a professional looking site designed and launched without any particular design or html expertise.
2. Get a DBA, sole proprietorship or another entity. For most business entities other than LLCs and corporations, the legal name of the business is the personal name of the business owner(s). If you want to do business as “John Doe”, you can stop reading this section now, as nothing else is required. However, if you plan to do business under a name other than your own, such as ACME Digital Consulting, or if you want to set up a bank account under your business’s name, you’ll likely need a DBA. In this case, you’ll be operating as a “Sole Proprietor” and should become familiar with two tax forms: W-9 and 1099-MISC.
3. Plan for taxes. Equally important to your choice of business structure (#2 above) is planning to optimize your taxes. Expenses on business meals, home offices, and mileage when you’re driving for business, among other items, can all serve to minimize your income – through deductions – and lower your tax liability. Understanding the tax impacts of these expenses will be important to your finance well-being, so start early.
4. Get your permits in place. In addition to a DBA, your state may have specific laws for individuals doing business. Research and obtain any state and local permits or licenses you’ll need for your business. Or check a site like NerdWallet that does some of the research for you.
5. Order business cards and stationery. A significant challenge as a freelancer will be sourcing clients (more later). Online companies like VistaPrintoffer inexpensive solutions for business cards and stationary, to give you a polished and professional look, and to make sure you make a lasting impression as your network grows.
6. Think about your future. As a freelancer, you’ll have to sort out your own path for retirement savings, medical insurance, dental, etc. Speak with your accountant or a financial advisor and set up a plan to make sure your needs and goals will be met and review websites like Value Penguin to see and compare health insurance quotes from a variety of insurers.
7. The infrastructure plan. Without the right tools to perform your trade, your work product and efficiency will suffer. Freelancers will often tell you that while working at your leisure sounds glamorous, there are a few drawbacks. For some, the solitude can get lonely. Freelancers working remotely can’t talk to a co-worker between projects the way employees in an office can. On the other hand, freelancers don’t have to deal with office politics. For maximum productivity, set up an in-home office, or find another place where you can focus and get work done. The absence of a boss down the hall may be a highlight; however, that just means you have to be the one to manage deadlines and productivity.
8. Promote and network. Working for yourself means promoting yourself, and getting started as a freelancer can be very time-consuming. Online networks like LinkedInpermit you to publish your goals, ask questions, and network with other professionals. But don’t stop there. Spread the word to friends and family that you’re venturing into freelancing and ask for referrals where appropriate.Set up a blog. A blog can help you connect with other freelancers and bloggers as well as potential clients. It will also help your website with search engine optimization (SEO) over the long term.
9. Be an influencer. You don’t need a famous TV show or a massive social media following to be an influencer. You just need to own your lane. So figure out what it is, and get to work. Many times, asking and answering questions is the easiest way to get people involved and invested in what you do, and while you could meet 10 people during a networking event, you could meet 75 online. When you combine a strong digital presence with meaningful personal interactions, you’ll really see your stock rise. So get busy!
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Working as a freelance entrepreneur can be intellectually rewarding and financially lucrative, but you need to build the right foundation from the beginning. Using this article as a guide to start laying that foundation can help you to later focus on your work, your customers and enjoying the flexibility you’ll gain from this important career choice.
So what’s with this “conformed signature”? And how’s that different to a wet signature?
Electronic signatures facilitate rapid and efficient signing of documents, more commerce, and a great deal of flexibility to tailor tools and protocols across an organization. In recent years, the practice of and market for electronic signatures has exploded, and many technology analysts predict this trend will continue into the future.
The transition from wet ink signatures, though, has not been easy for some. Many business technologies have yet to be phased out. File cabinets, wet ink signatures, faxing, scanners, and landlines are all antiquated business technologies that have yet to become fully phased out. A range of new technological solutions essentially eliminate the need to keep up with these methods but the adoption rate has been relatively slow, which comes to the detriment of business speed and efficiency.
Analyzing at the concept of signatures, it is easy to understand the reasoning as to why e-signatures have yet to have full adoption across the board. Everyone (theoretically) pens a unique signature, and signatures are an integral part of validating that an individual actually signed and agreed to the terms of the document. The s-signature has become a standard way of electronically signing documents that has become accepted in some use cases.
In the remainder of this article, we provide a discussion of what the characters “/s/” mean in a signature line, why people use them and when they’re effective.
What is a Conformed Signature (and how is it different to a wet signature)?
“Conformed signature” almost sounds like an oxymoron. A conformed signature is a typewritten signature indicating that the original version of the document has been signed by the appropriate party, and it should be maintained with the records of the company. A conformed signature replaces the traditional “wet” signature line with a typed name preceded with a “/s/” designation. A conformed signature usually looks similar to this example:
/s/ Ronald McDonald
There are a multitude of ways that a conformed signature can be written, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides resources to what formatting an electronic signature should follow.
As you will see below under “When is it legal?”, governing bodies have different regulations regarding acceptable formatting for conformed signatures.
Because of these differences, it is important to have a competent and tech savvy legal team. As a business owner, your signatures are constantly needed, and the ability to utilize a conformed signature whenever possible will save time and effort.
Having a legal resource that acknowledges the importance of your time and providing e-signatures whenever possible is a must.
A conformed signature is utilized mainly as a way of making signing contracts and documents easier. Convenience of a conformed signature is what has drawn many to utilize it, and some government agencies now accept it in lieu of a traditional signature.
The conformed signature eliminates the need for an individual to print, sign, and scan a document to submit it electronically. To save paper and reduce the number of intermediary steps, conformed signatures offer a perfect efficient solution to a signature.
Conformed signatures allow for a seamless process of viewing, signing, and submitting a document all without having to print or scan. Conformed signatures are utilized in a number of ways and gives a signer the option of how they are able to digitally sign a document.
Conformed signatures can be easily done from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other mobile device, drastically increasing the speed at which individuals can certify a document.
Additionally, a conformed signature is a terrific tool that permits attorneys to quickly and efficiently certify batches of documents. Many courts in the United State permit attorneys to use conformed signatures, including New York and California. This process saves countless hours for attorneys, allowing them to focus on the highest value add activities for clients. And when value is prioritized, a lawyer is better able to advance a client’s interests.
When is it legal?
E-signatures, and more specifically, conformed signatures, are not a full substitute for legal handwritten signatures. The signature itself is not more reliable than a standard signature, and as such, makes the acceptance of e-signatures vary greatly, especially when it comes to geographic location.
The following states allow conformed signatures, with some exceptions:
In some of these states, a conformed signature may be allowed for certain filings and not others. In Florida, for example, an LLC document can have a conformed signature, but a filing for a non-profit corporation cannot.
While a lot of states allow conformed signatures in contracts, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t allow such signatures; therefore, SS4 forms and other tax documents must have an original signature.
Ultimately, it is the states’ decision in whether or not to accept conformed and electronic signatures.
Because these laws vary from state to state and agency to agency, it is important to ensure that a business has legal representation that is well-versed in the process of online signing and document submission. Documents signed inappropriately can lead to costly and time-consuming missteps. In the world of legal filings, this could mean the difference between the closure of a successful business deal or a costly mistake.
Essentially, the “/s/” in a signature line signifies that a conformed signature is being utilized in lieu of a traditional handwritten signature.
There are many forms of e-signatures and each have specific utilizations and formatting requirements. The s-signature is a great e signature method that can be utilized by many people.
The ease of use and convenience of the signature type allows for businesses and attorneys to waste less precious time and energy printing, signing, and scanning documents, and more time to focus on their clients.
If you need legal assistance, we suggest you look for lawyers that readily utilize new technology to eliminate inefficiencies. Traditionally, you pay lawyers by the hour and benefit from time-consuming, antiquated technology.
JUSTLAW has over 300 highly trained and licensed attorneys that can ensure that your legal documents are as they should be. JUSTLAW saves you time, effort, and money. Leave the guesswork out of your legal needs and allow a JUSTLAW attorney to help you through complex paperwork. A good lawyer will navigate the different signature requirements for different documents and ensure that they are done correctly to reduce inefficiencies in having to refile for something that was done incorrectly the first time.
The emergence of e-signatures is just one way new technology permits a lawyer to save time and facilitate a smoother experience for their clients. With a smart legal team on your side, you can avoid the legal headaches surrounding what type of signature to use and focus your precious time on business.
eCommerce is the process of buying goods or services via the internet, and has become the most crowded business venture for start-up entrepreneurs. While the blueprint for starting an eCommerce website is seemingly straightforward, the industry’s takeover of more than three-quarters of retail growth has created demanding changes to legal regulations. In this post, we share with you some examples of legal concerns you may encounter launching your eCommerce company. We also hope to help you understand when you can manage alone, and when you should look for a good small business attorney.
Product recalls don’t just impact the reputation of manufacturers, the fault also lies on the retailer, and third-party sellers who use other platforms for product distribution should not take product liability lightly. In the 2020 lawsuit case of Bolger vs Amazon, a third-party seller, E-Life, sold a defective computer battery that exploded and burned the customer. Because Amazon had a major role in distributing the product, the company had to put pressure on sellers, requiring eCommerce sellers to purchase product liability insurance to minimize risk; this type of insurance is recommended by lawyers alike.
Third-party sellers must also be weary of IP infringement, as patent, copyright or trademark violations could result in expensive lawsuits. eCommerce resellers should confirm they have the rights for product stock photos or in their product descriptions. Here is a list of ways your eCommerce business could violate IP infringement.
Another liability can arise through data breaches, as personalized information is growing quickly, customers are at risk of hacks and identity theft. Amazon and Facebook have shown widespread scandals on misusing customer data, and eCommerce companies are recommended to limit their customer data to prevent cyber-hack scenarios. Securing your website, maintaing updated software, and encrypting information and data with secure socket layer (SSL) protection, all go a long way for business owners. It’s beyond the scope of this article, but you can find more on handling data breaches here.
Payment gateways are high in demand, but have limitations such as hosting capabilities, anti-fraud control or service fees, but most importantly, entrepreneurs should pick a getaway by their individual terms and conditions; features for transactions can include setting up shipping time frames, return policies, payment terms, etc. Most terms and conditions, however, are already procured through state regulation. For example, Florida has developed their own 2020 Florida Statutes that simply ensures customers have the right to return products sold online for a full refund within 7 days.
As the world of online selling is constantly changing, it is always good to be updated on the laws. Electronic payments through third-party vendors have created a new stream of chargebacks, an example is found through restaurants using food delivery services, and loss of orders and/or incorrect orders calls for chargebacks. The Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) underwriting guidelines help dispute refunds by exploring how banks and card processors manage payment. The chargeback process involves investigations from the transacting bank, beginning with the customer request for a refund, bank investigation within merchant accounts and a final dispute.