Angie at the Work at Home Wife recently had a post about home based business regulations and it made me remember what my concerns were a couple of months ago. When does your Etsy shop turn from a fun little hobby into a real business? The government definitely doesn't mess around when it comes to regulations for businesses. My local newspaper had a story earlier this year about an Etsy seller who was reported to police for not delivering on sales and she ended up facing charges for fraud as well as for doing business without a license.
I was feeling pretty overwhelmed about setting up an actual business. One of the reasons I enjoy working for other people is that I don't have to worry about the paperwork and regulations. Fortunately, it turned out to be a fairly easy process for me to complete since I have a small business and no employees. The State of Utah allows you to complete the process of creating your business and getting the appropriate licenses and tax numbers online. Then you have to complete the process of licensing your business in the city where you are established. Since the city I live in has offices open only four days a week, I still haven't managed to turn in my paperwork there.
You'd be amazed at the resources out there for small businesses. SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides counseling for small businesses. They have a ton of great resources online and have offices all over the country. A lot of colleges and universities have classes and groups that can be helpful and some of the major banks have small business counseling as well. In Utah, Zion's Bank has a Business Resource Center. Etsy's blog sometimes has articles about doing business. Their most recent was this one about sales tax. Talking to other sellers online is another great way to get advice. If you haven't set up your business legally, you'll want to at least do some reading so you don't end up on the wrong side of the law.