A Series of Minor Panics, Or: Owning A Business

Back in February, I created an LLC to run Ch1Con through. So many people own small businesses in the United States, I figured it couldn’t be too complicated to get everything started and running properly.

Register the business with the state? Check.

Open a business banking account? Check.

What else could I possibly need to do? (As you’ve probably guessed by now: a freaking ton.)

The past few months have been a whirlwind of forms I didn’t know I needed to fill out until it was almost too late and awkward back-and-forths with Very Official Business People, all much older than me and used to not spewing words like “freaking” in the middle of a sentence.

I have a CPA, a banker, and a lawyer. I have to keep track of a thousand and one numbers and licenses and forms.

Yesterday, my aunt dropped by and mentioned that I have to charge the conference attendees sales tax.

“Really? I asked. “I figured I could just pull it from the amount they’re already paying us.”

She shook her head and laughed. “That’s illegal. You have to get a license from the state to charge sales tax and you have to collect it directly from the customers. With their knowledge.”

Sure enough, a Google search after she’d left proved her right. Which then meant researching how sales tax even works, what to do about use tax, applying for the license, figuring out how to add it to our conference order forms, and not dying from a heart attack. All as quickly as possible.

Three and a half hours I’d meant to spend revising a novel? Gone.

Basically, while I’ve always respected small business owners, I am now in awe of how they handle everything. They are superheroes. And I am never taking my local bookshops and restaurants for granted again.



8 thoughts on “A Series of Minor Panics, Or: Owning A Business

  1. My dad has his own chiropractic practice (my mom does all the paperwork side of things and I’ve grown up helping around the office). My parents also own several rental properties and an internet product brokerage company – which I am now part of. I totally understand the overwhelming number of details involved in running a business and dealing with changes of laws and regulations. But I can say that the freedom of running a business yourself and being able to financially be in charge of yourself is simultaneously very freeing and a little bit scary. So I wish you the best of luck and much success with this and all future business endeavors! There is no feeling like being the one who runs the show! 🙂


  2. Not to throw a wrench into things, but I’m not convinced you have to charge sales tax on conference fees. I live in Indiana, and it may be different, but when my dad teaches art workshops, they are not subject to sales tax. I’m a graphic designer and design services cannot be subject to sales tax. Actual printing, yes, because it’s a product. My dad’s paintings, yes. Any books you sell, yes. I suppose it could be argued that they’re buying an entry ticket or something. But I’ve never paid tax on a conference. Again, though, it probably varies by state. I don’t want to waste the time you’ve spent or suggest changes too late to be incorporated – just throwing in my two cents worth… Good luck!


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