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a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ... (Read 3,831 times)
 
Jerry Toschlog
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a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Jan 23rd, 2014 at 9:43pm
 
a few  questions about selling, business name, etc. ...

First let me say I have owned and operated a full time photography studio for 25 years, and still do. I made 5 pens this past Christmas for family and since then everyone wants one. I have been selling to the point I want to take it a bit farther. I have a chance to sell in a local artisans shop and I want to test the waters there.  The shop will collect sales tax so I would not need to use my sales tax ID from the studio. Any sales, if any, I can add on to extra income, I am not concerned there.  I plan to sell pens, key chains, bottle stoppers etc.
My questions are....
1. Business name,
    My name is somewhat well known locally, so for that reason I plan to use my last name first them whatever behind it. Are there any dos and don'ts or attention getters when naming a wood turning type business.  Do people really understand "turning" I don't think I want woodworking as that could be assumed I do large items or furniture.  I know its long but I was thinking "Toschlog's woodturning and custom gifts". Don't laugh but I have even considered "Tosch-log's woodturning and custom gifts" It is really just for the business cards at the moment.  I am open for suggestions.

2. Business cards,
   As a photographer there are so many hobbyist photographers out there, that when I see a card with only the phone number, first thing I think is illegal business / flying under the radar. Since I have a retail (photography) shop, I could use that address plus carry items there.  I was wondering what you folks think when you see a address-less business card.

3.
Display cases, locking,
   I know I can make one but  to save time I am looking at MAYBE buying one. Can anyone make any suggestions?

Thanks  Jerry 
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Bill Neff
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #1 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 10:13am
 
I don't have my address or phone number on my business card since I work out of my basement.  At a lot of shows people walk around collecting business cards and I don't want the undesirable element to know where I live or more solictation phone calls.  It has my email and website for contact information.  If someone is interested in a commissioned or custom piece I'll give them my number.  Sometimes I think that if there is an address people think you have a showroom.   Since you already have brick and mortar business I wouldn't see a problem with putting them on.
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Charlie Zapalac
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #2 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 10:40am
 
I'm doing this now.  You can operate one of three ways.  Do nothing, since you already have the legal ability to collect and report taxes.  You can file a DBA, (Doing Business As) which will only add the ability to accept payments made out to your business name.  If you don't do a DBA and someone writes a check to the business name, legally you cannot cash it or deposit it, and your bank will most likely say Whoa, first time you walk in with one and you don't have a business account in that name.  A DBA will not protect your name.  Someone else can start using the same name and there's nothing you can do about it.   If you get a DBA, and start accepting payments in that name, your bank will force you to have a business account, which will mean more fees and charges.  That's why you see alot of sellers with little signs saying make checks payable to {their name}.  With no DBA, you list all of your earnings as just other income and claim it on your taxes that way.  The next level is an LLC.  It will protect your name, but there is also a belief that your not liable personally for anything that the LLC does.  That's not true.  There are alot of things you will still be liable for.  Also, your LLC business will have to file it's own income tax separately and your tax rates are higher, and you are an employee of that business so you will have to pay social security and medicare on all of your earnings. Then there's the big business corporate stuff that you wouldn't want to do on this scale. 

I did get my tax id, my own domain for online stuff, and an Etsy online shop.  I got a seperate pesonal checking account for my business.  I got a persoanl accout with PayPal.  I can accept payments online with that, on my phone with an app, and they are sending me a free card swipe that will work with my phone.  All of them will deposit funds directly into my checking account.  If anything gets hacked by that account tied to PayPal, then it won't be connected to our regular accounts and shut us down financially.  Also, the more public "noise" you make the more chances the IRS or other agencies will take note and say hey, what's all the hoopla.  Maybe we should audit this guy.  I'm keeping a simple spreadsheet of all expenses, sales, and income.  I'm using only the one account so that spreadsheet will be backed up by those bank records.  I don't know if I'll be rich or sell only one thing a year.  However, I do know that I'll have some tax deductions, and if I make a little here and there to cover shop supplies and materials, I'll be happy.  i would like to get a new lathe this year and have it pay for itself in small sales, and I'd also like it to become my retirement business, which I'm actually eligible for retirement in 3 1/2 years but I probably will stay longer to get more things paid off first.

Hope that helps and that I'm correct in what I have learned about this.

So that's what I've learned so far in the last few months.
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Charlie Zapalac
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #3 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 10:41am
 
And business cards are cheap.  I'm going to do that soon.  I'll order them online.  You can get a good supply for not that much investment at many online card printers or you can print your own will little card printing kits from Walmart and other stores.
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Jerry Toschlog
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #4 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 10:43am
 
Bill,

Yes I guess you are right as far as in this case most do work from their homes. With Photography, pre-digital, most photographers had brick and mortar. I will give it more thought address wise, I guess its not a huge deal.
As I type this reply I just realized since my cards are double sided, I may just have photography on one side, turning on the other, that way I get double exposure.   no pun intended...

anyone else have any thoughts on the questions?
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #5 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 12:40pm
 
Charlie Zapalac wrote on Jan 24th, 2014 at 10:41am:
You can get a good supply for not that much investment at many online card printers or you can print your own will little card printing kits from Walmart and other stores.

Ouch!

Jerry Toschlog wrote on Jan 23rd, 2014 at 9:43pm:
As a photographer there are so many hobbyist photographers out there, that when I see a card with only the phone number, first thing I think is illegal business


I've been telling that to people for years, if you want to look legit you need an address, if you want to look like a fly-by-night don't use an address
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #6 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 2:54pm
 
There may be a few slight differences, but DBA sounds similar to a Sole proprietor.
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Jerry Toschlog
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #7 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 3:42pm
 
In the last few hours since I replied I decided not to combine my cards, duh what was I thinking. That would give me a look of just another jack of all trades kind of person.  I see so many jack of all trades and then they are a photographer also. I do not want to do a disservice to either business.  Yes DBA and sole proprietor inter mix a lot.
"If you get a DBA, and start accepting payments in that name, your bank will force you to have a business account, which will mean more fees and charges."
The banks I work with have my business name on my checks but it is not a business account. It is more of a separate personal account. The wife has a Mary Kay account and that's a personal account also.  You do not "get" or apply for a DBA, at least that I recall. My first DBA listed was from the state on my sales tax ID. On your taxes if you report self employed then it wants a DBA plus  if your are an LLC, sole proprietor etc.  I agree about the LLC and being liable. For the MOST PART and LLC keeps a law suit to the assets of the bossiness and not my personal. If I did something really dumb, then that would be a different story. . At this point I have it mostly covered since the artisans shop will collect tax, under their ID and I can also collect via my studio on other sales. The one point I never thought of if someone makes a check out to the "turning business". I can head that off as they can make it to the studio. Plus I do not expect a huge windfall here, as a current businessman I know people will not be beating down my door.

  So....  any thoughts on a name or the Tosch-log's ..part of it?.Trying to emphases on the word LOG within my last name . In one aspect it looks cheesy but  it's also kind of cool. I need a total outsider here to give some input. I don't even want to ask my local friends .... Don't be shy, if you are laughing your butts off then let me know I will not be offended.


Oh yeah Ron,... I agree with you, I guess we think the same. 
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« Last Edit: Jan 24th, 2014 at 3:45pm by Jerry Toschlog »  
 
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JimQuarles
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #8 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 5:07pm
 
In AZ, you must register a DBA with the state if you are going to accept payments in the DBA name.  The registration process includes a search to see if anyone else is already using it.  If not, you now have the rights to it in AZ.

I use "Pens by Jim" on my cards, but have not registered it.  I also have the pensbyjim(dot)com domain, though I haven't gotten a website set up yet.  I do use sales(at)pensbyjim(dot)com as an email address.
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Jerry Toschlog
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #9 - Jan 24th, 2014 at 5:28pm
 
It sounds like states are different, now that you say that I did have to check with the county to make sure the name was not already in use.
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #10 - Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:25pm
 
For my day job I run a consulting business set up as a DBA.  Everything that has been said about that makes sense.  I did put my home address on my cards before I got a permanent office.  However, I think that today, mailing addresses have gone the way of the dinosaur.  I've had a harder time finding mailing addresses for my customers (all large businesses), as they don't tend to list them on their websites anymore, at least not prominently.  Next time I print a batch of cards, I'm just going to put the town and state, along with email and web addresses.  I don't actually want anything sent to me by snail mail anyway, so why give people that option?  I think not having a good web presence makes a lot more of an impression as a 'fly by night' tun not having a mailing address.  I'll never hire a contractor, for example, who doesn't have a good web site with pictures of his work, customer references, etc. 

From a tax perspective, you may want to find out whether setting up a DBA or marketing yourself as a business will have implications for you, vs. declaring it as hobby income.  I know there are differences in the way you can claim deductions, and how detailed you need to get in tracking expenses. 

One question I've had regarding selling turnings and other woodworking projects for profit (right now, I either give mine away or ask people to just pay for materials if they want me to make them something specific) is whether commercial insurance would be required from the start, or whether there is a threshold below which homeowners insurance should be sufficient (e.g. hobby income vs. actually trying to run a business).  I wouldn't want to sell the occasional pen or bowl, and have my insurance company deny coverage in the event my shop burned down or I got injured in there.  If I need to buy commercial insurance, I'll continue to give away my work, as I'm never going to have time to make and sell enough to cover the cost of the policy.  I've been meaning to discuss this with my insurance company, but wanted to see what other peoples' experiences have been. 

-John
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« Last Edit: Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:28pm by John_Voloudakis »  
 
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Ron Sardo
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #11 - Jan 27th, 2014 at 2:23pm
 
John_Voloudakis wrote on Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:25pm:
However, I think that today, mailing addresses have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Interesting, I don't see that at all

John_Voloudakis wrote on Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:25pm:
I don't actually want anything sent to me by snail mail anyway, so why give people that option?

It is my opinion that not showing an address on a card shows a lack of professionalism and if we want to demand a high price for our work we need to look professional.

John_Voloudakis wrote on Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:25pm:
One question I've had regarding selling turnings and other woodworking projects for profit (right now, I either give mine away or ask people to just pay for materials if they want me to make them something specific) is whether commercial insurance would be required from the start, or whether there is a threshold below which homeowners insurance should be sufficient (e.g. hobby income vs. actually trying to run a business).

Insurance company are not concerned about your gross sales and would be happy to disqualify a claim if they feel you are running a business from your home, even if you only made $1.00. But every insurance company is different so its always best to ask your insurance agent for clarification.

John_Voloudakis wrote on Jan 27th, 2014 at 1:25pm:
I think not having a good web presence makes a lot more of an impression as a 'fly by night' tun not having a mailing address.  I'll never hire a contractor, for example, who doesn't have a good web site with pictures of his work, customer references, etc. 

While I agree that having a web presence is very important, most of the best contractors in my area don't have websites let alone know how to use email.
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #12 - Jan 27th, 2014 at 4:07pm
 
Ron,

I wasn't implying that businesses should hide their addresses.  My point was about putting one's address on a card for a home based business.  I personally know people who have had customers show up on their doorstep to complain about something.  My business dealings with my customer shouldn't put my family at risk if someone I casually gave a business card to decides to try and find me at home.  I certainly put my address in proposals and contracts with my customers and prospective customers.  I personally haven't mailed anything except Xmas cards in years though, and I maybe look at my snail mail 1x per month.  Since I travel a lot, that's the last way I would want anyone to communicate with me - it would not be acceptable customer service for me to leave something sitting in a pile of paper for a month - I'd much rather have someone call me on the phone (my cell phone is on my card) or send an email directly or from my web site, when I can react immediately and meet their needs.  For purposes of turning, I might put my address on the back of the card I provide with a purchase that describes the item, but not necessarily on a business card I might hand out hundreds of at a show.   

The contractor thing is likely location-dependent.  In the Boston area, people in general are pretty tech-savvy, and you'd be leaving money on the table as a local business if you didn't show up in search engine results.  I'm sure that there are a lot of great folks out there who don't have web sites, but it makes me more comfortable to see that they've taken this step and can articulate the value of what they do, and who they've done it for.  I would never work with someone without email - I like to have that paper trail if there is a dispute about what was said. 

Thanks for the input on insurance.  I think the key words, as you stated, may be 'running a business'.  The IRS has provisions for 'hobby income' and I would hope that selling a few things once in a while to cover some expenses wouldn't constitute a need for a commercial policy.  Like you said though, I'd want to check with my carrier and get a statement in writing before going down that path though. 

-John
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« Last Edit: Jan 27th, 2014 at 4:08pm by John_Voloudakis »  
 
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #13 - Jan 27th, 2014 at 6:56pm
 
A few people on WR have seen my woodturning business cards and it has a PO Box#, email, website along with my phone#
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Jerry Toschlog
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Re: a few questions about selling, business name, etc. ...
Reply #14 - Jan 27th, 2014 at 9:09pm
 
Since I have a brick and mortar I will put an address. I just did radio ad last week for the studio and well, I dropped the address years ago and only the town and phone number. Now they are saying no phone number just website and the customer can email me from there and social media like facebook. Its all digital now and that's how we connect.  Meanwhile I made up a name / logo  its more for the artisans shop.  I am going to attach it plus my photography studio logo. I think the locals will make the connection.    well I guess I will have to make themit smaller once I am at the studio tomorrow... the logos that is
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