Updated: May 4
If you’re reading this, chances are you have a dream.
Maybe right now it’s a hobby or just something you’re curious about. Or maybe it’s a passion you’ve started making money with and don’t know what the legal steps are to make it the real deal! Whatever camp you’re in from, I am so stoked for you to carry that dream and make it a reality.
For much of my photography career, I have wondered: what makes a business legally legitimate? I knew I was a service based business operating primarily in the wedding industry, and I knew I filed my taxes each year…but was that really it? Did that mean I was a business owner?!
I asked a financial expert in college and got a plethora of valuable information about income and expenses, the importance of trademarks, how to file taxes, that sort of thing. I learned about a few options that I had to choose from: sole proprietor, LLC or S-Corp.
I figured the sole proprietor was the easiest for my moment in life, and rolled with it for the last number of years.
But a few weeks ago I made the choice to change and become and LLC—for both the purpose of scalability and legal protection. Making the move was pretty smooth and waayyyyy less scary than I thought! So if you’re over there shakin' in your boots about all the legal things to consider, let me remind you that you can do hard things! And this one might not be as hard as you might think.
**I’ll interject here to remind the world that I am not an expert on any of this! I highly advise getting legal advice from a real deal pro. If you’re not in a place to do that yet, start small by following some friends who educate on all things small business and more. I found the Legal Paige, the Own it Academy, and Ticora Davis helpful resources (and boss babes to follow!).**
That being said, here is how I became an LLC!
Made the realization. After years of filing and operating as a sole proprietor, I realized that I wasn’t just me anymore. I was now a married woman with a house and cars and a number of possessions that could be at stake if anything were to go south. I also found myself dreaming up bigger ideas (like building a photography education course!) that would diversify and potentially increase my income. In the case that I may need to hire more team members to help out I didn’t want to be stuck falling in the ocean of photography without the protection and help I needed. So I took my thoughts and turned them into action.
Got ready to file! The mysterious process was suddenly not so mysterious. I Googled “how to file as an LLC in Ohio” and was directed to a simple form that got me started here on the Ohio Business portal. I’d recommend a quick search for “how to file as an LLC in (insert your state here)” to start. Make sure that the website you head to is a legitimate .gov site! There are loads of scammers and sneaky sponsored posts that will appear, but the real deal site should be one of the top posts you see.
Fill out the form! You’ll begin filling out your business info and select “Limited Liability Corporation.” There were just a few questions to fill out and honestly, the whole thing took me less than 20 minutes.
Pay the fee. To file as an LLC in Ohio was $99 for me. Now I understand for some people that may seem like a big chunk for something you’re still getting a feel for, but that’s okay! You can pass on becoming an LLC right now and still function as a business and file as a sole proprietor without having to pay that fee at the moment. However, if you’re making a decent income, a hundred bucks is a smart and small investment in your business in the grand scheme of things that can only help you.
Submit & wait for the confirmation! It took about 3 business days for me to get the confirmation email—and BAM! Just like that India Jade, LLC was live!
Receive your EIN Number. Once I received my confirmation email, I headed to the IRS website to file and receive my EIN number. This is kinda like a social security number for your biz. It’s used for filing taxes, opening a business bank account, among other things. After I submitted my info I received it instantly! (This might take longer depending on what state you're in.
Added "LLC" to my contracts and docs! Once you're filed as an LLC it's recommended to add the magic letters to any legal documents. I imagine it's similar to adding MD or PHD to your name in other career paths. #streetcred
And that's it! I can’t believe I waited for years to do this. The total process took about 30 minutes and a few business days of waiting. Once I filed, I knew I had the legal tools in place to operate and be prepared for next tax season as a legit LLC recognized by my state.
Here's to wishing you the best of luck on your biz journey!
India Jade, LLC
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