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Tips & Tricks

3 Most Common Mistakes of Small Business Owners and How To Avoid Them

By Hanssie on September 15th 2014

As a mom with a camera just starting out in my first business ever, I was clueless when it came to things like business licenses, taxes, contracts and the like. After all, I just wanted to take photographs, do what I was passionate about, and not think about paperwork and all that confusing legal jargon.

Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a domain name, throw up a Facebook page, print up some business cards and start cashing checks. Well, I suppose you can, but that can come back and bite you in the butt later on down the road when a disgruntled someone comes and threatens your livelihood.

If you’re serious about your photography business, you must make sure you start your business off on the right foot to avoid costly headaches and issues down the line. There are three common mistakes that small business owner make and in the following video, Marie Forleo, a life and business coach talks with Jo-Na, an attorney that specializes in protecting artists in the area of Entertainment, Business and Intellectual Property Law about these mistakes and how to avoid them.

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The three areas Jo-Na discusses are:

1. Choosing the Right Business Structure

Should you be a sole proprietor, LLC or S-Corp? What things should you consider before deciding? Jo-Na explains the importance of hiring a lawyer in this process. As a startup, you will most likely be on a limited budget, but consider hiring a lawyer – it may save you money in the long run.

2. Protect Your Goods and Services

You already know that you need a written contract, but what are the most important elements in a contract? What kind of disclaimers should be included? What circumstances might terminate the contract, etc.


3. How To Deal With Your Business Relationships

From vendors, to second shooters to independent contractors, it takes a village from time to time to build your business (or at least work with you in various aspects). Jo-Na speaks about having a written contract for them and what should be included. Did you know that in the U.S. if you pay an independent contractor (like your friend that second shoots for you for a handful of weddings) more that $600 a year, you have to 1099 them?

The video is less than 13 minutes long and brings up a few good topics to think about before you hang up that open sign.

If you want more legal resources specifically for photographers, you should also check out The Law Tog. Rachel has many contracts that are applicable to your photography business.


The above video is provided for the community and is informational. It should not be construed as legal advice of any kind. Please contact a licensed attorney for your specific legal needs. SLR Lounge assumes no liability for any damages, lawsuits, or disputes that may arise for use or interpretation from this article/video.

[Via Marie Forleo]



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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  3. cherestes janos

    Great tips, but all this applies for US, I’m curios what applies for Europe from all that Marie shared us.

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    Thanks for the article makes ones mind aware of the things we may take for granted . you don’t want to be a victim of your own success

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