$672 profit my 1st 3 weeks but... Taxes/Biz Setup? Help a N00b

19 replies
Edit:
Folks kept PMing me to ask how I did it. I just Frankensteined a bunch of WF advice and WSOs together and made my own hacky method that's working for me. I have no idea if it'll work for anyone else. I explained the bulk of it down below in Comment #15
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I started my IM journey Dec 11th and have turned a profit of $672 as of midnight (breakdown below). That pales in comparison to the pros and many of the ppl on WF that have given such amazing and helpful advice and how-to's, but I'm proud of what I've done with what I've learned. I'm really loving exploring and applying and tweaking so in that regard I believe I'm off to a good steady start.

However, I think I may have shot myself in the foot with regards to taxes and incomes. :confused:
I did NOT register an LLC or anything, and all payouts from Clickbank and Amazon came to me (linked with my personal SSN rather than a company/LLC's Tax ID).
AND my payments to FB and Adsense/words came from my personal account.

Have I completely mucked up or will I be able to deduct my advertising expenses from my individual taxes?
My total income was $1861, but my expenses were $1189. Because I am not officially a business/dba yet, will I be eligible to deduct my advertising and hosting expenses?

How would you approach this? Form an LLC now?

And yes! I fully realize and appreciate that ya'll are giving help based on your own experience and NOT as legal counsel
I will consult with an accountant, but as most of you that have them know, you have to know your approach before you can pick a good accountant/advisor. So I'm trying to understand my approach

My expenses/income from when I started 12/11 up to now 1/5 if it helps clarify anything:
My accounting is all done via Excel... here are my column breakdown totals
EXPENSES
Paid Ads (FB, Google Adsense/Words, Ad networks)
$721
(I wasted a LOT of money at first before I cracked down and started obsessively micro-segmenting and monitoring all of my campaigns and only going with the ones that turned hella profit. I'm paying a LOT less for better results than I was two weeks ago, so I'm definately learning.)
Hosting (includes GoDaddy, AWS,etc...)
$53
WSO (catchall for any WSOs/JVs/coaching/shiny objects I've bought)
$268
($197 of that was a scam I fell for my first week. Glad I got burned early though because it made me vigilant and STRICTLY analytical - no emotional or gut actions, I research and test the hell out of everything now).
Memberships (WF or network membersip sites)
$58
Outsource - Creative (Articles, graphics, editing, non-tech)
$45
Outsource - Tech (code or setup)
$25
Support - (GetResponse, bud.url, etc... free trials won't last long)
$19
Business Registrations
$0
(hahah.... oops)

INCOME
ClickBank
$1643
Amazon
$218

Profit: $672

Thank you so much in advance for any tips/advice/commiseration and feel free to chide me on any glaring errors or oversights i've done business-wise, I can take it!
Maggie
#$672 #1st #amazon #clickbank #n00b #profit #setup #taxes #taxes or biz #weeks
  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    I would definitely get a LLC either legal zoom or a local attorney can do this and it would not be that much. Your accountant can advise you better and he/she might actually suggest a corporation Sub chapter S, but that will be between you and them

    I would also invest in quickbooks, There are many accounting softwares available but most accountants use quickbooks and it is so easy to just email an accountants copy so they can keep you updated.

    IF you go to the quickbooks website intuit.com they have accountants that you can search to find one locally and they will set everything up for you.

    I would also get a separate Checking and Paypal account for your business. You want to keep the money separate from your personal money.

    But, for now I would set up a simple excel spread sheet for income and expenses for 2013 tax returns

    al
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    "Theater, sports, movies, and church are all driven primarily by an ancient desire to be in each other’s proximity." ~David Marcus~
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    • Profile picture of the author maggieblue
      Thanks al!

      I really wasn't expecting to turn a profit so soon, and you are correct I should really be investing in my longer-term baseline with things like Quickbooks and legal registrations.
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    • Profile picture of the author dewayneboyd
      Originally Posted by agmccall View Post

      I would definitely get a LLC either legal zoom or a local attorney can do this and it would not be that much. Your accountant can advise you better and he/she might actually suggest a corporation Sub chapter S, but that will be between you and them

      I would also invest in quickbooks, There are many accounting softwares available but most accountants use quickbooks and it is so easy to just email an accountants copy so they can keep you updated.

      IF you go to the quickbooks website intuit.com they have accountants that you can search to find one locally and they will set everything up for you.

      I would also get a separate Checking and Paypal account for your business. You want to keep the money separate from your personal money.

      But, for now I would set up a simple excel spread sheet for income and expenses for 2013 tax returns

      al
      It's highly doubtful a one-person LLC would protect you from anything since every action is one you are personally responsible for. I don't see any point in Maggie having an LLC.
      Signature

      1,574,810 unique visitors and counting. And that's just one of my websites.

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      • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
        Originally Posted by dewayneboyd View Post

        It's highly doubtful a one-person LLC would protect you from anything since every action is one you are personally responsible for. I don't see any point in Maggie having an LLC.
        First let me congratulations on taking action and making money. There are lots that never do.

        I agree a single member LLC doesn't really provide you much protection. She might be better off starting out just getting an umbrella insurance policy to cover her in case of any lawsuits and a monthly subscription to Legal Shield.

        Second, a separate bank account and credit card are ideal (as mentioned above) so that you can segregate your accounts. It doesn't have to be fancy, even a separate account at Capital One 360 would do you good.

        Quickbooks, meh, overkill. Only reason I use it is my wife is an accountant and QB implementation developer (did you ever think you could spend 300k implementing quickbooks)? There are easier platforms like Justaccounting or just keep it all in an excel file that can then be used for your accountant when you do taxes.

        Believe it or not you have a lot of expenses you can use to offset that income. Cell phone monthly, internet access, computer are all legitimate business expenses. Just keep track. The only one I don't take is the rental expense, it is ripe for abuse and getting you audited.

        You didn't mention if you need to get any type of business license. Here in Hawaii you have to have an Excise Tax License (we don't have sales tax) which is 20 bucks one time but you have to do filings.
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        • Profile picture of the author maggieblue
          OnlineStoreHelp,

          Yeah, I may have jumped the gun in calling it an LLC, I just meant registering *somethign* be it a corp type, dba...

          I'm loving seeing all of the different approaches that have worked for ya'll, obviously based on your locations and business types. One thing that is definately the common thread of advice is a big resounding "SEPARATE YOUR EXPENSES!".

          Gonna do that RIGHT NOW with a new account and then repoint my PayPal, FB, Amazon etc to it. Thanks for the actionable!
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      • Profile picture of the author maggieblue
        yeah dewayne, this is something i really need to research.
        i think i just tossed out the word "llc" willy-nilly, forgetting that I was really meaning any and all business types - dba, s-corp, all that fancy stuff that i obviously need more looking into
        thanks again for the advice
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  • Profile picture of the author RobinInTexas
    There may be something peculiar to California that makes a difference, but there is no reason whatsoever to form a corporation or LLC based on what you wrote here.

    You can get the basic information here Sole Proprietorships and I am sure there are local resources where you are for California considerations.

    Be careful if you register any kind of business using your residence address, there may be restrictions due to zoning, homeowners's association rules, or lease restrictions.

    Check with the SBA for SCORE programs that might be pertinent. (Google is your friend

    It would be a good idea to speak with an accountant and a lawyer. You can probably get a short interview for free or nominal cost as a prospective client.
    Or check with a local law school.

    If you hadn't received payment by December 31, you didn't have any income from your business in 2013

    I am not a lawyer, in fact have no legal training whatsoever. I don't even play a lawyer on tv.
    In no event will I be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of my opinion. Taking legal advice from anyone via the internet is a bad idea, you should do your own research and consult proper legal counsel before embarking on anything after breakfast.
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    Robin



    ...Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just set there.
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  • Profile picture of the author dewayneboyd
    Originally Posted by maggieblue View Post

    I started my IM journey Dec 11th and have turned a profit of $672 as of midnight (breakdown below). That pales in comparison to the pros and many of the ppl on WF that have given such amazing and helpful advice and how-to's, but I'm proud of what I've done with what I've learned. I'm really loving exploring and applying and tweaking so in that regard I believe I'm off to a good steady start.

    However, I think I may have shot myself in the foot with regards to taxes and incomes. :confused:
    I did NOT register an LLC or anything, and all payouts from Clickbank and Amazon came to me (linked with my personal SSN rather than a company/LLC's Tax ID).
    AND my payments to FB and Adsense/words came from my personal account.

    Have I completely mucked up or will I be able to deduct my advertising expenses from my individual taxes?
    My total income was $1861, but my expenses were $1189. Because I am not officially a business/dba yet, will I be eligible to deduct my advertising and hosting expenses?

    How would you approach this? Form an LLC now?

    And yes! I fully realize and appreciate that ya'll are giving help based on your own experience and NOT as legal counsel
    I will consult with an accountant, but as most of you that have them know, you have to know your approach before you can pick a good accountant/advisor. So I'm trying to understand my approach

    My expenses/income from when I started 12/11 up to now 1/5 if it helps clarify anything:
    My accounting is all done via Excel... here are my column breakdown totals
    EXPENSES
    Paid Ads (FB, Google Adsense/Words, Ad networks)
    $721
    (I wasted a LOT of money at first before I cracked down and started obsessively micro-segmenting and monitoring all of my campaigns and only going with the ones that turned hella profit. I'm paying a LOT less for better results than I was two weeks ago, so I'm definately learning.)
    Hosting (includes GoDaddy, AWS,etc...)
    $53
    WSO (catchall for any WSOs/JVs/coaching/shiny objects I've bought)
    $268
    ($197 of that was a scam I fell for my first week. Glad I got burned early though because it made me vigilant and STRICTLY analytical - no emotional or gut actions, I research and test the hell out of everything now).
    Memberships (WF or network membersip sites)
    $58
    Outsource - Creative (Articles, graphics, editing, non-tech)
    $45
    Outsource - Tech (code or setup)
    $25
    Support - (GetResponse, bud.url, etc... free trials won't last long)
    $19
    Business Registrations
    $0
    (hahah.... oops)

    INCOME
    ClickBank
    $1643
    Amazon
    $218

    Profit: $672

    Thank you so much in advance for any tips/advice/commiseration and feel free to chide me on any glaring errors or oversights i've done business-wise, I can take it!
    Maggie
    Yes, Maggie. I have run a business under my own name for years and years and make deductions all the time. You just use your own name on your Schedule C, SE, etc.
    Signature

    1,574,810 unique visitors and counting. And that's just one of my websites.

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  • Profile picture of the author Lightlysalted
    All the best with your efforts, despite your tax issue, it's great to see people turning a profit so early, Well done
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  • Profile picture of the author Glynn Kosky
    wow, well done, you are an inspiration with all this early profit!
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  • Profile picture of the author salegurus
    Seek Professional Advice before you do anything else...
    Signature
    Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

    ― George Carlin
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  • Profile picture of the author OnlineAddict
    I can't give you advice about the tax system in the US, but I just want to say Congratulations on a very good start. Most people need months or even years to actually make a penny online...so keep it up and hopefully you will be doing $5k+ per month this time next year!
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    Money manager at From1toMillion.com

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  • Profile picture of the author mariof
    I would do everything to get the money out of your personal name. Once you hit the 10K mark the IRS will come knocking. Setup and LLC and get an EIN from the IRS. Setup a seperate Paypal account.
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  • Profile picture of the author maggieblue
    I got flooded with a ton of PMs asking me how I did it, so here:

    WARNING: I'm definately no expert at any of this, I've just been tweaking everything and playing it by ear as I go along and reading the fine print of everything. I can't advocate one WSO or affiliate offer over another, this is just what's worked for me. I stay far far away from offers that just sell to other work-at-homers/IMers, so I can't really help with any advice on that.

    Slow Start
    I first started with some WSO on making a "niche" blog (kind of a crap term, as most of the "niches" are not niches at all, but far too broad and overused) and wasting a lot of time trying to do some SEO game. Gave up on that after day 2 BUT i realized i could use that blog to do a free giveaway to get an email list going. Mine was a hobby/end-consumer micro-niche. I also realized that a blog I had had for a few years could probably use an ad or two so I stuck a few amazon products DIRECTLY related to my blog (not an adsense carousel) and that's been working out nicely.

    What Didn't Work
    My main and quickest income has been coming from FB campaigns.
    Haha... warning, though. I got my FB Account SUSPENDED the first time I tried it, because I just followed some WSO blindly without bothering to look at FB's Terms of Service at all. I created fan page campaigns based on Political Hotbuttons of the exact moment (the Duck Dynasty fiasco & the Ani DiFranco non-apology). They had MAD clicks and likes... the Ani Difranco issue got me over 2000 likes and comments within the first 2 hours and the product I promoted had a 30-some% click thru rate the first half hour until it was BOOM suspended along with my account. I had also launched a similar funneling campaign (albeit on a completely opposite issue, catering to a completely opposite crowd)... centering on the Duck Dynasty debaucle... lol, I sold them WoodShed plans. my CTR on that campaign was in the 20's.
    But I launched and failed those fast because I DID NOT READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE

    "Ads may not contain content that exploits political agendas or "hot button" issues for commercial use."
    They shut me down, my whole FB account, not just my ads campaign. Mind you, this is my actual FB account... 600 of my family and friends, no IMers or fake account ppl.
    So I followed everything TO THE LETTER to get my account reinstated, was completely honest to them as to what I had done and that I was an affiliate marketer, etc.
    After 3 torturous days, they unsuspended my account and let me run ads again. And to add insult to injury, one of the WSO's i paid $197 for for a 7 day course, dropped off the face of the earth after the 2nd day.
    Luckily I'm one of those types of gals that when I get handed a whole bunch of lemons, especially in one day, I get mad as hell and start making spiked lemonade and kickin' butt and taking names. It probably would have made a sane person quit. lol.

    What Worked
    I just couldn't give up, I had already seen what a quick profit FB could make. I found out that it was BLACK HAT as all hell, and it was my own fault for not learning FB's TOS and just following along with someone else like a robot.
    I had 3 days of detention to do my FB homework and to learn what was right and what was wrong. I then decided WHAT types of things I was gonna affiliate market and which types I wasn't. I decided that no matter what, I wasn't gonna do anything destructive or insulting or predatory and that no matter what, my copy was not going to jab at anyone's pain or prey only on the super-desparate.

    So what I've been doing to make money is basically using FB fan pages (any fan page will do) to market my Clickbank products. I use ClickBank because I'm a N00b and it seemed like a popular and reputable choice and ppl were actually getting checks from there. I know some of the Pros make fun of us noobs using CB, but really, there's zero learning curve on it so it works for me for now.

    I segment the HECK out of each product. For each product, I run 3-4 FB campaigns. Each campaign has a vastly different copy. I spend time and effort to write the copy, I don't just use the copy the products give you, as it always sounds super salesman-y plus that copy's been used to death by all of the other folks marketing it.
    I further segment each campaign into at least 12 segments. I don't consider it a segment if it has an ad reach of over 2 million. I target the SHYTE out of each segment. Like, "Males 18-25 who live in the US and like WWF" is not good enough, way too broad. For instance, I was running a video-game affiliate ad and i segmented based on age bracket (18-21,22-25, 26-30, 30-35) and each age bracket had a game type (first-person shooter fans... you can select keywords that are fps games, rpg/warcraft-type fans, builder-game type fans), and i had a bracket for platforms (ps4, xbox, etc). I put down $15 testing money for each campaign and let it run for a half day and it was pretty evident which segments were total failures (<5% clickthrus) and which were keepers (i only keep segments with 6% or higher clickthrus). Out of that campaign I only kept 4 segments running (I think I had tested 16) and that campaign now has an average of over 11% click thru. Somethign in the FB algorithms charges you more cost per click if your clickthru rates suck, so it's also a way to keep costs down.

    Oh also I pause my US ads from noon to 4pm my time because after 1 week of running ads and having sales, i only got 2 total during the afternoon. lol. keeps my clickthru rate up too
    Oh and another trick is I only do News Feed ads... I disable/delete all the Right Column ads, nobody ever clicks mine and I'm all about the good clickthru rates.

    Oh and almost all of my ads get disapproved by FB within an hour after their launch. It's to the point where I expect that now. I get almost all of them re-approved with an apology letter sent from FB to me...haha... the secret is to just make sure you read and understand the spirit of the FB ToS, and know your product. If you're selling a fitness product, they will disapprove your ad more often than not, citing "this ad promotes certain substances we don't approve of..." or "this ad promotes an unreasonable body image..." THAT's where knowing your product comes in. I don't sell pills, i only touch a fitness product if it's a plan or a workout routine or something. But FB filters or whomever they have working the late night shift just automatically disapproves it, so it's up to YOU to POLITELY and NICELY explain to FB what exactly your product is, provide them links, and ensure them that it's not a pill or substance (if it's not).
    Oh, and I don't use copyrighted images or steal ppls' images. I use my own pics from my own flickr or ask friends. And I do really striking really cool images. Some that have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm selling. lol.

    ALSO, one of the things I absolutely positively detest is how mainly men have controlled the marketing of diet products to women and it's always horribly fat-shaming and has this painful and trite copy and is just generally evil and detrimental, especially for younger women. I ran a BUNCH of segment testing using all types of copy on all types and it turns out the old adage is true, you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. All of the copy that was using really detrimental language or poking at their pain did really poorly in CTR. EXCEPT for in younger age ranges in women (18-21... i never target anything to anyone under 18). They responded better to the more positive sounding ads, but they still responded significantly to the destructive ads. Basically, as a female I've seen the destructive and harmful toll that these types of ads have on girls, and all of my ad copy that's fitness/health related centers around reaching your own body goals, and i avoid words like skinny or fat loss.

    I have 5 Clickbank products i promote right now. I would promote more, but it's so hard to find a product that doesn't leave me with a sleazy feeling AND has a good buy-page. To be perfectly honest, most of the affiliate product pages look like bad geocity pages from the '90s.

    I dunno... I stick with what I know and that's all I know for now.
    My plan is probably too tedious for a lot of ppl, I'm kind of control-freakish with data.
    Sunday I finally pulled down some of my campaign data with the FB Ads API, so I hope to use the API to automate some of my Ad stuff so that I don't have to watch it like a hawk every 4 hours.

    As far as picking products, I'm all over the map. That ClickBank Gravity score means absolutely nothing to me, as my top-earning product has a gravity score of 19 (hahah... not 119, but 19). I pick stuff that resonates with me that I know I can put a spin on.

    Segmenting has really taught me a lot, though.
    It's taught me that "shock value" pretty much only works if you're desparate and don't have a good grasp of the English language (or whatever language you're marketing to). Copy that sounds too info-mercially and used-car-salesman like doesn't sell squat unless you're selling stuff to other IMers... for some reason we fall for that lol.

    Oh. also... don't limit your English-ads to Americans, Americans!
    My highest clickbank earnings by country are GB, AUS, US, SINGAPORE, NZ, Canada... in that order. Who knew???

    I'm learning so much stuff.
    Sorry I don't have any WSO's to point you to, I Frankensteined my own method from a buncha different ones. I think the most useful non-BS ones that I found was one called Blog like a Blogger (had some good step-by-steps with GoDaddy and GetResponse captures and Google analytics... probably only useful for beginners), and another one I don't remember the name of but it was a cool stay at home mom that was doing some Amazon product niches with Squidoo... I used 5 or 6 of her actionables. I have a low BS tolerance so I loved these.
    All of my FB knowlege pretty much came from looking at the social marketing part of the Warrior Forum and once I learned from the WF that the higher your click thru rate the cheaper your ads, I started doing some serious A/B testing. I kind of applied the same principles with some Google Adwords as well.

    I wish I was better at the SEO/blog thing as it's cheaper to start out with and can really advertise itself. I spent a lot on FB/Adwords to start out with, but if I didn't have savings in the bank and used it to fund my initial FB campaigns I wouldn't have turned a profit so quickly :/

    I think my next step is to keep doing what i'm doing, but also figure out a way to build an email list. I dunno, first things first I guess.

    If you're still reading this you deserve an award, and good luck! Just start doing SOMETHING. Don't spend more than you can afford to, focus on one method at a time, and do something you feel pulled towards or passionate about. I dunno. It's still my first month. For all I know it could be beginner's luck or leftover Christmas luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      Congrats! And nicely done.

      Ok, I'm not in California, but here is what I did on the east coast here.

      DBA -

      Had to go to my local court house at the time and then (wow, 13 years ago) I got a trade name. It cost me a whopping 5 bucks.

      I had to go and file some papers for the business, and that was something like 70 bucks at the time.

      I then went to my bank and they were having a special on business accounts. I don't have to keep a minimum as long as I do all electronic things and have my personal account there. I don't think they have free business accounts anymore but you may want to go check out a few local banks and see if there are any deals.

      I also got going with the accountant as he was able to tell me what things I wanted to track and account for. For instance, if you are working out of your home or apartment you can deduct a portion of your rent as it is work space. There will be a good long list of things you can consider as business expenses.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alchemist X
        Originally Posted by maggieblue View Post

        I got flooded with a ton of PMs asking me how I did it, so here:
        This sounds like great info if I knew what you were talking about lol. I think it would be great if you could start a zero-knowledge thread giving basics. BASICS! Even if you include a bunch of links. I know you did a LOT of research, and I will have to do that too, but I don't even know where to start.

        Originally Posted by Jill Carpenter View Post

        DBA -

        Had to go to my local court house at the time and then (wow, 13 years ago) I got a trade name. It cost me a whopping 5 bucks.

        I had to go and file some papers for the business, and that was something like 70 bucks at the time.
        Wait. You had to get a trade name and file court papers for a DBA? I was pretty sure you just set up a bank account and that was it. :/ Do you know if this is still so today?
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        • Profile picture of the author tngllc
          [QUOTE=Wait. You had to get a trade name and file court papers for a DBA? I was pretty sure you just set up a bank account and that was it. :/ Do you know if this is still so today?[/QUOTE]

          If you want to use a business name you will need to get it registered. If you want to use your own personal name then you shouldn't need to do anything. Of course this could vary state by state, so I would check with an accountant or with the Secretary of State or Department of Revenue in your state.
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        • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
          Wait. You had to get a trade name and file court papers for a DBA? I was pretty sure you just set up a bank account and that was it. :/ Do you know if this is still so today?
          You always have a legal requirement to file DBA registration
          with your county recorder. The purpose is to legally notify the
          public that when they do business with "XYZ" it is actually YOU.

          The public has a right to know who they're doing business with
          and who to pursue if there is a problem.

          As for the OP... you've received a lot of really bad advice in this
          thread. If you haven't already sought professional advice do so
          ASAP.
          Signature
          If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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  • Profile picture of the author Farish
    Ok see misinformation here, but before I post this, disclaimer.

    See a business lawyer or tax professional always and get advice from somebody qualified. Whether the information I give is accurate or not I am not a qualified professional in this field.

    OP you are in San Francisco, please go here.

    Office of Treasurer and Tax Collector : Business Registration

    Once again every state/county can have different rules.

    For example I live down in Southern California and the DBA rules in my county is much less complicated. It looks like San Francisco wants an immediate business license.

    FYI if you are doing business under a business name and do not have a DBA here is what happens.

    First the banks probably won't open a bank account to accept payments under that name.

    Second if another company lay claims to that name by registering a DBA in your county they can sue you for cease and desist plus damages in using a name they have control over. This is different than a trademark scenario.

    Third,

    California has penalties for not filing a DBA while doing business under such. I believe it is misdemeanor with a 1000 dollar fine and potential jail time.

    Once again, talk to a tax specialist/business lawyer who helps with this sort of thing.
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