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Hi, it’s Alicia here at newVAadvice.com and I’m back with another segment in the Getting Started series.
Today, we’re going to talk about the legalities of owning your own virtual assistant business.
It’s very likely that by now you’ve realized you have some amazing skills that you can turn into services in your VA business. But chances are, you’ve never owned your own business before and you’re not really familiar with all the legal stuff that’s involved with it.
This may be stopping you from moving forward and keeping you feeling overwhelmed. Here are some tips that might help you to get a handle on this.
First, remember that you are an independent contractor and not someone’s employee, so you need to run your business like a business. If you need more information on what it means to be an independent contractor, check out the blog post I wrote on that.
Before I go any further, I want to say that this information does not constitute legal advice. I am not an attorney, accountant or legal professional. Also, I’ll be sharing information for those based in the US, because that’s where I live and what I’m most familiar with. Before you make a decision for yourself, it’s a great idea to get professional legal advice.
The first part in this is choosing your business name. The name that you choose can actually affect your business structure. We’ll talk more about that later.
If you want to know if a business name is available for you to use, you can check at GoDaddy or Namecheap to see if the domain name is available. Because, of course, you want to purchase that domain name, even if it’s not the main one you want to use for your website. You want to make sure that no one else uses it.
If you’re in the US, you can check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to see if the name you want to use is available.
You may also need to register your business name with your state. Each state has different laws, so you need to check. I mentioned earlier that your business name can affect your business structure. For example, in the state of Pennsylvania, if your business name includes your personal name, you do not need to register the name. Let’s say your name is Mary Smith and you choose “Smith Social Media Marketing” as your business name. You can operate as a sole proprietor under your name and you’re not required to register it. Of course, you can still register it if you like.
Let’s get into business structure. We’ll go over some of the more common ones for service-based business owners.
This basically means that you are the sole owner of your business, therefore, you are personally responsible and liable for your business. As far as taxes go, you can file with your personal taxes. It’s just an extra schedule to fill out, and you keep track of income and expenses.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
In this case, you still function very much like a sole proprietor, but without the personal liability. There is a bit more paperwork involved here. When it comes to taxes, there are a couple of different ways that you can go about it with an LLC, but you do still have the option to file with your personal taxes, like a sole proprietor would.
In this situation, the business is a complete separate legal entity. A corporation is more complicated and involved. Taxes are handled differently and you can no longer file along with your personal taxes.
For more information, the best resource that I suggest is the US Small Business Administration’s website at SBA.gov.
That’s a brief summary of the legal aspect of starting your own virtual assistant business. As I said, it’s up to you to do your research and talk to a professional if you need to. Taking care of the legalities at the start of your business will save you time and headaches down the road.
Here are your actions steps for this segment:
- Decide on a business name, purchase the domain name for it and find out if you need to register it.
- Do your research and decide on a business structure that best fits you and your business.
Stay tuned for the next part of this series. Missed the previous segment? You can find it here. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.