How to Register Your Business (in TX)
Maybe you're like me, and your hobby suddenly turned into a very real, very exciting business. In a flash, you can go from taking photos of friends and charging small fees, to having serious clients and bookings!
And then, like many other photographers, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners before you, you realized--you need to register your business.
When I realized I needed to register my business, I was working another job and busy with college. The thought of trying to navigate legalese and confusing paperwork and notarized signatures made me sick to my stomach.
It shouldn't have to be that stressful, though.
As I worked through setting up my business, getting my DBA certificate and EIN, I kept track of all the resources out there and culled them down to these steps + options:
THE STEPS TO BECOMING A SOLE PROPRIETOR
1) You need a "Doing Business As" (DBA) Certificate
Before you hop into the certificate process, make sure that your business name isn't already taken. The database of Texas business names can be searched through here. You cannot use a name that is already registered. It is required that you do your research and select a unique name before filing a DBA certificate.
Getting one of these is easy-peasy. You can download, print, and fill out the file here OR you can pay to have a third-party handle the grunt work for you. No matter which option you pick, however, you WILL still need a notary signature. Thankfully, your bank AND all UPS stores offer notary services.
2) Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Lucky for us, this process has been streamlined and can be completed in minutes. All you have to do is go to the IRS website and fill out an application. WOO!
3) Register to Pay Taxes
MMMM, taxes. (Said no one ever). This is the small business owner's dread. The great heavy shadow hanging over our heads--but hey, we're together in this!
Head to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to register your business for applicable sales and use taxes.
Since everyone's business and services are structured a little differently, it's best to do deeper research on your own of exactly what forms you need.
Speaking of taxes, if the thought of keeping track of all of your expenses and profits for tax filing sounds overwhelming, Quickbooks recently came out with something to help. Their 'Quickbooks Self-Employed' offers an easy app-accessible way to keep track of all your expenses in one place and make tax filing easy. I haven't used the service yet, but have heard good things from many of my fellow photographers!
4) Plan on Hiring Employees?
If you want to hire on an assistant, consistent second shooter, etc. then make sure to register with the office of the Attorney General of Texas.
*DISCLAIMER: Like you, I am just a small-business owner trying to sell my art and follow the laws of business in the State of Texas. It is your responsibility to make ensure you have all of the information about how to register your business and pay applicable taxes. This post is simply meant to be used a resource, as I am not legal counsel on the information provided. Further, you may need to obtain specialized licenses or register your business for taxes not discussed here.*