The Freelancers' Show 116 - Preparing For Freelancing: Government
The panelists discuss getting ready for freelancing and what you need to know about keeping your business on the up and up government-wise.
[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 116 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Mandy Moore. MANDY: Hi. CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv and this week we’re going to be talking about getting ready to go freelance. In particular, we’re going to talk about some of the nuances of dealing with the government and things like that. There are a few areas of this that I can think of, and I know that there are probably some that I haven't thought of, but there are certain things like getting your business entity together, paying taxes, which we talked about a little bit last week, getting business licenses – all that kind of fun stuff – and then there are also issues around labor laws and things like that. Is there any particular area that you guys want to talk about first? ERIC: I think entity stuff is the most important, because depending on what entity you're under, that’s going to determine what other stuff you have to do. CHUCK: Yeah. I was going to point out – I know that Mandy just set up an LLC for DevReps. MANDY: Mm-hm. CHUCK: Do you wanna talk to us a little bit about how that went? MANDY: It really wasn’t hard. All I did was go to my accountant and ask him to do it, and I think it cost me a total of about $400, $500 and I got the paperwork, and that was that. I did wanna incorporate like that because it keeps you safe legally if somebody tries to sue you or whatever, you're protected and they can’t go after your personal assets, your house, your car, whatever. That’s one benefit of incorporating. CHUCK: Did you set it up so that you're the sole owner of your LLC? MANDY: Yes, and right now I just have consultants. They're sole proprietors, and they’ll have to fill out W9s for me and at the end of the year, I’ll send them a 1099, then I'm protected that way. CHUCK: Very nice. How’s your setup, Eric? ERIC: When I got started, I just did a sole proprietorship because it was easy and we didn’t have a lot of personal assets to protect. Two years later I set up an LLC, and it was pretty easy. In Oregon, you can do almost everything electronically, so it was like – I don’t know, maybe 100, 150 bucks to do the state stuff, and then I bought a kit that came with all the forms and templates to do –. I can’t remember what it is for LLC, but it’s like by-laws and corporate stuff like that. It might even came with a little fancy corporate seal, hole-punchy type thing, and so I got a binder of that. But I mean, the total cost – I think 400, 500 [inaudible] at the high end for me. CHUCK: That hole punch-y stuff is official. ERIC: Yeah, I know. I grabbed random pieces of paper and started officially signing things with it. CHUCK: Nice. When I set up my LLC, I had been working on a joint venture with somebody and so I just set it up myself. I went to the state – State of Utah –. I'm assuming you guys filed in the states, or set your businesses up in the states you're in? MANDY: Yeah. ERIC: Yup. CHUCK: So I set mine up in the State of Utah and you can file the paperwork electronically here as well. I set up an LLC and I just paid 80 bucks, the cost to set it up. I didn’t know that I needed anything else. I also paid for an EIN, which is an Employer Identification Number, and that means that on my W9s, I can actually set up a W9 for the business and give them my EIN and I don’t have to give them my social security number. ERIC: You paid for it? That’s supposed to be free. CHUCK: Oh, maybe it was free. I don’t remember. MANDY: Yeah, I think mine came with it. CHUCK: Anyway, so I have all that set up, and then I was talking – when I went freelance, I was talking to a friend of mine; he’s been on the show before – David Brady – and he referred me to my accountant, and my accountant talked me through setting things up so that –. They changed the ownership a little bit on the LLC so that my wife owned – or we have another family-limited partnership, which is just a partnership here in the City of Utah. But anyway, my wife owns 90% of that and I own 10% of it, and then that entity owns 90% of my actual freelance business. It manages the taxes in a particular way, and I'm not an accountant or an attorney, so I can’t exactly explain it all to you, but my accountant [crosstalk]. ERIC: Yeah, it’s just another level of protection. CHUCK: Yeah. Anyway, so it protects us in certain ways and helps with the taxes in certain ways. I actually have two legal entities between me and anyone who wants to sue me. Besides the legal reasons, what other reasons have you guys heard or experienced for having a business entity? MANDY: I just basically did it to protect myself and my family, and it just seemed a really good idea, because I had no idea what to do. I just went to an accountant and he helped with my taxes, he helped with everything. Basically, he just does everything for me, which I'm okay with paying for that because when it comes to the law, you don’t really wanna mess with that. CHUCK: Yup. ERIC: I mean, there's really only two reasons: one is the legal protection and the second is taxes. The taxes, when it comes into play, if you could do a corporation or have your LLC or whatever entity you're using and get taxed as a corporation. My LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship, so it goes through on [inaudible] in the US, which basically means I don’t pay a corporate tax; it just all gets passed through. But really, that’s the only two purposes for an entity; there really isn’t anything else to it, it’s all just what other processes and bureaucracies you set up in your business itself, which, you can do that in a sole-proprietorship also. CHUCK: Yup. Do you guys have articles of incorporation and all that fun jazz? Eric, [crosstalk] ERIC: I have the LLC version. Yeah, I remember what it is, but yeah, you have to do some of that. My state required that when I registered the LLC and then I have a –. I can always remember the corporate ones – the annual meeting and annual minutes, just kind of showing that I'm doing all of the process, keeping this as a separate entity and it’s not just for the legal protection. If you only have a corporation or anything for the legal protection, lawyers can kinda get around that because there's no actual real purpose to it and blah-blah-blah. But yeah, I have the paperwork for it and you can find that online. Most of that’s pretty easy; it’s pretty template-able, and especially for freelancers, that’s not that complex. CHUCK: Yup. I need to do a little bit better with having the annual meetings and keeping the minutes and all that stuff, because a lot of it affects how well your LLC will shield you from liability. ERIC: I just got my kit – for Oregon, it’s called the Articles of Organization, which is – I think that’s for everything, but that’s just something that you file for state that has your [inaudible] code of what industry you work in, who the owners are, how long it’s around, all that. It’s like a one-page paper, but it’s the operating agreement that’s kind of the LLC version of the Articles of Incorporation. It looks like it’s about a dozen pages, mostly legal template like these are the owners, this is the manager, all that stuff; nothing fancy. CHUCK: Is your business owned solely by you, or does your wife own part of it? ERIC: It’s just me. MANDY: Same. CHUCK: I got some indication like certain groups or certain companies and the government prefer woman-owned businesses, and so it does help with the taxes the fact that my wife doesn’t actually work in the business. I don’t have to pay self-employment tax on some of the income from the business because she owns it, and so my wife actually owns the majority of my business. I kinda explained that when I explained the breakdown of things. I've heard that there are advantages [inaudible] but I haven't seen it, but the tax advantages are kinda nice. ERIC: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s like the home office deduction; it’s a very slippery slope. You could start getting a lot of help from the government, and once you get help from them, whether it’s in they're giving you grants, or they're giving you money, or just not charging you a lot of taxes, then at a certain point they might want to see this. If you do a woman-owned business but she doesn’t actually work in the business, to me that’s a very black-grey area; you're really pushing it. If it is, if she’s actually managing and she’s bossing you around more than normal and all that, then yeah, it would make sense. CHUCK: I like that. ERIC: There's probably advantages for that, and there's advantages for if you have your children are at a certain age, and they kinda – I don’t know if it’s employees, but they work with the business and all that. Stuff like that works, but this is [inaudible] your attorney and your lawyer probably at the same time. CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC: And for me, I just kept it as I own it – very simple, very basic. I didn’t want too much of an overhead, and even if it means I pay a little bit more in taxes. just not having to deal with that, because this stuff is – you set it up once and you can just walk away from it. CHUCK: Yeah, we really haven't done anything to take advantage of her owning most of the business, but since she isn’t the one that’s doing most of the work in the business, it saves us a little bit on the self-employment tax, and my accountant knows how all that works. Anyway, do you guys have business licenses for the cities you live in or work in? MANDY: No. ERIC: I used to. We lived in [inaudible], which is an incorporated city, and then we moved. We live in [inaudible] now, which is an unincorporated area, so it’s not technically a city or a town or anything, and so there is no licensing authority out here. It’s more of the county, and our county itself doesn’t [inaudible] our licenses or anything like that. But when we lived in [inaudible] I had to have a business license for the city and I had to have a home occupancy permit to basically say I'm working or I have a business that I run at home. That was a one-page type of paperwork, maybe 50-100 bucks/year – nothing big. CHUCK: I've looked into getting one for where I live, but nobody’s every called me on it, and every time I think about it, I think about going down to the city building I'm just like, “Meh, I’ll do it later.” MANDY: That’s something my accountant hasn’t even suggested to me, so unless he sees a reason that I need to do it, then I just haven't done it. ERIC: I don’t think it matters that much when you're working at home and you don’t have people coming to your house. The problem [inaudible] is they might come and slap you with back payments, interests, all that – that’s probably the extent of your risk. If you actually had a storefront or something and then someone hurt themselves and sued you and then it kinda got out that you didn’t have a business license, that would be a different story. But if you're working at home or if you're working at a co-working space, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I mean, as long as you talk to your professional [inaudible]. I got it because I want to be in the up and up that I probably didn’t need it. CHUCK: Yeah, I wanna be on the up and up; it’s just something that I don’t think about unless I'm talking to you guys about it. Are there any other government-type paperwork that you have to file for some of this stuff other than taxes and business licenses and business entities stuff? ERIC: You already talked about the employer identification number – the EIN – which, it’s not really technically for just employers. I have, and I've actually gotten two – I had one when I had the sole-proprietorship, and then when I made the LLC. Basically it gives you a unique number that you can use instead of your Social Security Number, so if I get hired, like I'm subcontracting for someone, I don’t have to give them my social security number for them to send me tax forms; I give them this EIN. I've heard of some clients – I haven't seen them in myself, but I've heard some clients that actually require that, and that’s kind of the idea. These are bid companies; they want that to make sure that they're hiring companies and not just freelancers or moonlighters. The EIN, I've done it online. It takes 10 minutes to do; you get it right away. It’s like a pdf you get; you can print it out and you're done; it’s pretty simple. MANDY: Yeah, that’s why I did it. I didn’t want to be handing out my social security number. CHUCK: Yeah, it will steal your business’ identity, I guess. MANDY: Yeah. But when you have many, many clients that you work on an ongoing basis like I do – I go 10, or 11, maybe even up to 15 clients every two weeks. That’s 15 people that I'm giving out my social security number for if they ask me to sign a W9 and it’s just safer to keep it that way, because you can steal anybody’s identity with a social security number. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s true, and that’s why I do it too. Have you guys hired subcontractors or anything like that? What's your process for that? MANDY: When my accountant set me up with my LLC, he actually threw in a template subcontractor agreement. I only have one subcontractor right now, and when we started working together, I just drew it in for her to sign and so that protects me. I also asked her for a W9 right away, so that I'm not chasing them down come January, February – I have it on file, so I can just take everything when I'm ready to go to my accountant to do my taxes, and then he’ll take care of the rest. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Have any of you hired full-time employees? MANDY: No. ERIC: No, and I don’t really want to. My wife’s in HR and I know how they are. MANDY: Yeah, I don’t wanna deal with that yet. CHUCK: [Crosstalk] My dad owns his own business; he’s a dentist here and he’s gone through some nightmare-y things with his dental assistants. He’s fired three or four in the last few years, either for not being competent, not being honest, or both. One of them actually, she got – I wanna say 40 something counts of fraud because she falsified her timesheets. MANDY: My gosh. CHUCK: Some of this stuff you can deal with in the business, but the issue is that he’s paying unemployment for all three of those people even those he has documented the process of working with them and trying to get them up to snuff and letting them go, he’s paying unemployment on a girl who actually defrauded him out of money on her paychecks. That kind of stuff really scares me away from it a little bit because you have to pay benefits – ObamaCare got a little more stringent on that – and then you have to pay unemployment, and then you have to pay unemployment insurance even if you’ve never actually had to pay unemployment, and then you’ve got to pay for all these other things, and they wind up costing a lot more than somebody that’s just hourly. I mean, you have to pay them a little higher than an hourly rate to offset some of those benefits, but in the end, if it doesn’t work out, it’s a contract deal, and so when you let them go, the contract’s over, there's no unemployment, there's no wrangling over this and that; you just fulfill the terms of the contract and you're done. To me, that's kind of a government thing because it does vary from state to state, but it’s something to be concerned about and know about if you're looking at going down the road of hiring people. ERIC: The other thing to think about too, it’s not just all the stuff you need around them, but if you have an employee and they're not doing anything –. Say, you hire someone to do design work for you, like you're a design shop for an agency, if you don’t bring in whatever 20, 30, 40 or $100,000 and new work for them to do each month, they're sitting there on their hands and knees – on their hands, I guess – just costing you money and not actually making anything for you. It becomes a fixed cost type thing. CHUCK: Yeah, I can see though that if you are bringing in – if you can consistently bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars of work for them to do every month, and they could churn it out and you're paying them – between their benefits and everything else – you're paying $100,000, I can see that as a possible win. Provided that they're a good employee that you're not going to need to hassle with some of the stuff that my dad’s had to deal with. ERIC: Yeah, it’s not so much it’s like a win or a loss; it’s that it’s a commitment – a commitment kind of –. [inaudible] that you're going to be within this range of, you have a certain amount of work for them and you have a certain amount of extra fees like unemployment, and if your prediction or your thing is outside of that range, whether on the high end or the low end, things get screwed up. I tell my clients this a lot – with freelancers or contractors or consultants – “If you, the client, doesn’t have work to do, you don’t have to pay me to work on your stuff. I'd go work with someone else, and so you're not paying for an activity; you're not having to worry about that.” It’s flexibility that they get instead of actually having someone that they're committed to full-time for the next x amount of years. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s definitely a selling point. That’s the reason why over the last few years, when they do hire people, their contractors, it’s the same kind of situation with Mandy when she does work for me. I have no obligation to her beyond paying her for the work she does. Does that make sense? MANDY: Yeah. CHUCK: Not to say that we’re not friends, but that’s a different thing. That’s one of the arrangements that I really like, but the flipside is that they don’t have – there seems to be a little bit of loyalty expectation between subcontractors and employees when an employee’s working for you and so they kinda expect you to keep them around and you expect them to stick around, and so I think one of the other downsides of hiring contractors is sometimes there is something shinier that they’ll go and find to do. But if you're concerned about that, you can build that into the contract, too. ERIC: Well, yeah. I mean, that’s part of the commitment aspect. If there's no commitment there then it works both ways. They can go off and do something that they can be busy, but it’s more of you just need to be aware of it. CHUCK: So, taxes. We talked a little bit about taxes last time as far as saving up for it and being aware you have to pay it – what legal aspects of that do we need to talk about when we’re talking about government and being ready to go freelance? MANDY: Pay them. ERIC: Instead of direct deposits, so all of your invoice will get paid to the IRS and then they’ll send you a little bit at the end of the year. CHUCK: [Chuckles] Nice. Yeah, you gotta pay it; you have to file. Just the way I understand it, April 15th is the deadline. You can file an extension, then you can file before August 15th – that doesn’t keep them from charging you fees or penalties for paying late, and they want their money by the 15th of April as well. MANDY: I got mailed last year for not paying quarterly, so now my accountant has me set up where every quarter, I have 15 days to send them a check of estimated quarterly taxes, and then I can do it that way instead of yearly, so you're not just sending a big chunk; you're sending four chunks our of the year, which makes it a little bit nice, too. CHUCK: Yeah, you get dealt a penalty if you don’t pay quarterly as well. MANDY: Yeah. CHUCK: A lot of business people I know, they just take the penalty and pay it once a year, and so it sounds almost like a preferential thing – you can do it one way or the other way. MANDY: It was not that much; it was only $250, but still, it’s $250. CHUCK: So yeah, I mean, there are those deals. The other few things that I know about taxes are that you can’t bankrupt back taxes, so if you get into financial straits and you file for bankruptcy, you can’t get rid of them that way. They can go and get [inaudible] on your house; they can get it taken out of your bank account if you do have money in there and all that fun stuff. So you're probably better off just paying the government and making them happy. Anything else on taxes that you guys wanna tackle? MANDY: This has nothing to do with taxes, but recently, since I just went into business the past year and I only have about a year and a half of tax summaries, I'm trying to buy a house and I can’t do that until I have another year’s worth of tax summaries to show banks because they want two years, at least, of that kind of stuff. That’s another reason that you wanna do your taxes and pay them, so that when you do go to get a loan for something like a house or a car, you have something to show them because I'm still stuck in that; I have to rent for another year. CHUCK: Yeah, I ran into that when we tried to refinance one of the houses that we own. The nice thing was that the loan officer, I've known her for 15 years – well, longer than that; almost 20 years – and so she pulled a lot of strings to make things happen for me but it was still a tricky deal to make go through. MANDY: Yeah, I'm hoping that the person that I'm working with to buy the house that I really, really want is actually working – I'm working with his bank now and they're talking about that there might be some things that they can do to help speed the process along, but if you just go and talk to somebody who doesn’t know you, they're going to be a lot less likely to approve you or even help you get approved if you don’t have all those records. ERIC: Yeah, you gotta find people who either are creative or they know their stuff. I don’t remember the name of it right now, but you can find some loans where – I think it’s like a no doc, where if you basically give them your worth, like ‘I make this much’ –. The more paperwork you can give them, the better, but they don’t have a hard requirement of two years of tax statements for businesses or 6 months of pay stubs for an employee. The problem is you pay up a lot in upfront fees and then you also will pay more in interest, but to kinda get you into something. If your business is throwing off of six figures, seven figures a year easily in profit, you could almost buy a house with cash, but you don’t get [inaudible] a little bit better. It’s the idea of you can get in and do that and you have the cash to pay for things and it’s just a way to work around the system. Banking’s gotten kind of weird since the economy went belly up a while back, so there's a lot of rules changing and a lot of people I know are going out of business or getting out of banking, especially real estate stuff, just because it’s getting hard. CHUCK: Yeah, and those no doc loans are getting harder and harder to get, too. I've heard people blaming at least some of the downturn on that, and so a lot of the banks pulled back on being as liberal with them. ERIC: Yeah. When you think about it, it’s in the kind of loan. The bank, or whoever’s giving you the money – they just want documentation. They wanna know that the money they're giving you is not going to be at risk, and so the happier you make them feel, the better. That’s why employees can get a loan a bit better, because having a good job seems a lot more secure to banks, at least to people who are under writing and all that, versus if you're in freelance stuff; it’s a pain. We got our house when I was freelancing for I think just about two years at the time, and I knew real estate from a past life, so it was pretty easy for us. I overwhelmed them with documentation about finances and stuff like that, and so it was pretty easy for us. This was also when money was a lot more available and easy to get. You want them to feel comfortable; you want to take as much risk away from the banks or whoever it is that helps. That kind of advice works for clients too, when you're trying to land projects. CHUCK: Yup, definitely. Are there any other legalities you guys could think of? One that comes to mind is if you actually do business out of somewhere other than your home, you have to carry insurance on the premises. For example, my dad – again, going back to his dental practice – right now, he’s in a complex where the complex covers that kind of insurance, but his previous office, he had to pay for insurance so that if somebody got hurt in the parking lot or walking into his office or something, he was covered that way. It’s not like you're at your house where you have homeowner’s insurance to cover that kind of stuff. ERIC: Yeah, but the thing is your homeowner’s insurance might not cover business stuff. If your house catches on fire and you have a home office, there's a good chance that your insurance policy won’t pay to replace business equipment, and you have to look at that and talk to them about that. I think we got an extra [inaudible] on ours or something, so it’s not just liability side but also equipment replacement, that sort of thing. MANDY: In a lot of cases, rental insurance will cover that if you rent your own. CHUCK: Yeah, I don’t know. You'd have to talk to your insurance professional, because I think it varies from state to state, policy to policy. ERIC: Yeah, it’s a policy to policy thing. In some places, they won’t cover floods or whatever, but in others, it’s like, ‘yeah, it never floods up here so we’ll cover it.’ Another one that I see people on both sides of the fence is errors and omissions insurance, which is the professional equivalent of ‘I screwed up, sorry’-type insurance, depending on what projects you work on, or what you do – that could be important or it could just be a waste of money. I think we had a show on insurance we can probably put in the show notes, but you just gotta look at what risk your business has and if there's risk of you destroying an entire 20Gb database on a production server, maybe having errors and omissions may be a good safety net to have. CHUCK: Yeah, I've also had clients that have required – or have asked for it, anyway – and I just struck it out of the language of the contract and got their okay on it, but it was standard procedure for them to ask the businesses they work with to carry that kind of insurance. Are there any other things that you guys can think of that are part of government stuff? ERIC: There's one more – depending on how you do it – it might be important or not. I started out, I was Little Stream Software as a sole proprietorship, so I had to do – I would say it’s a DBA. It’s a DBA in California; it’s an Assumed Business Name or ABN in Oregon; I always call it DBA because that’s what I learned. I had to get one of those, basically . Okay, my name’s Eric Davis, but my business operates under a different name, and so it’s a link between the two and it cost I think 40 or 50 bucks a year in Oregon, so it’s not too much. And now when I started the LLC, it’s Little Stream Software, LLC, but I wanted to keep the original name I had just because I'm weird about it, and so I actually had to get a second ABN for that. But if you create an entity and you have used that entity’s name – it could even be your name. You don’t need it, but if you do want to have something different or you want the flexibility of – well, I started at [inaudible] but I want to be called something else now, you can use DBAs or ABNs or whatever it is in your state to change the name without actually going through the legal processes in setting something up new or changing it there. It’s typically a small, yearly fee and you just fill up some paper saying like, ‘This is who owns it, this is what it is,’ that sort of thing. CHUCK: Yeah, I've considered doing that for some of the things that I do, because I have DevChat.tv, which is the podcast, and then I have the consulting stuff, and then I have some other products that I'm working on right now, so I'm considering setting them up for those different things and then just –. What it would allow me to do is I would actually go and set up bank accounts for the different entities, and that way, I can keep different ledgers for each one and things like that. ERIC: Yeah, it’s more of an organization and branding type of thing; it’s not required. I actually recommend a freelancer to get started – if you're going to do sole proprietor and just work under your name. Add whatever it is at the end of your name, and that’s your business name just because the amount of paperwork and cost is so low for that versus setting up a corporation and setting up a DBA and all that. And a lot of times when people get started, they don’t understand – it might be long before you get a new client and [inaudible] to do this and spending all the time setting up all this stuff before you get started is kind of a form of procrastination, and you might not actually get to the actual stuff that you're trying to do. CHUCK: One final thing that I wanna say, and we should probably have said this at the top of the show but we’re not lawyers, we’re not accountants; we’re professionals that own businesses –. ERIC: We don’t even play them on TV. CHUCK: Nope. So if this triggers any questions or concerns for you, then go talk to a professional who deals in these areas and find out what they recommend. The best way that I found to do that is to talk to somebody else who’s already in business. Find somebody who’s deliriously happy with their person, with their accountant or attorney, and then go talk to that accountant or attorney. ERIC: Yeah, and this is also very US-centric –. CHUCK: Yes. ERIC: - because obviously laws are US-centric. I mean, some of them – I’ll go back to the same, similar laws, but the actual court cases and all that stuff is different in each country and different in each state, even different in each locality. If you can find a local entrepreneur or freelancers doing this stuff, that you trust, talk to them. They may even have professionals [inaudible], they can tell you, “Oh yeah, don’t forget to do this; don’t forget to pay quarterly taxes or whatever.” CHUCK: Mm-hm. MANDY: And also, a lot of places – there's something that I went to that was free – it’s called SCORE. There's over 320 chapters throughout the United States, so if you can find one of them, go find one and talk to somebody because they’ll point you in the right direction of accountants, lawyers, and then they also, a lot of times, they hold roundtable business meetings every month, and you can just pay $10 and show up. There's a bunch of entrepreneurs in one room, and you just sit around a table. Basically it’s like an in-person Mastermind group, and I've gone to about three or four of those, and I've gotten so much out of it. Sometimes they’ll even have food, so it’s a nice, little, free lunch if you wanna show up. I mean, you pay $10, so I guess it’s not free but you meet like-minded individuals in your city that you can just hang out with and talk to for an hour, and hour and a half, and they become good networking partners as well. CHUCK: Oh, very nice. They even have a chapter where I'm at. MANDY: Yeah, it’s really beneficial. I've gotten a lot of good business advice and the hold classes – there's more than just the little roundtables. They’ll have actual classes that’s one night a week, for a month, and it’s over a five-week period. You can just go and show up and ask all the questions you want to whoever the host is. It’s kind of like a little meet-up kind of thing; it’s really, really cool. If you have one of those in your area, I would definitely check one out. CHUCK: Cool. Well, it sounds like we’re kinda headed towards picks. Anything else we ought to cover before we get there? MANDY: Just make sure you do everything by the books and you don’t try to say, “Well, nobody’s asked me for a W9, so I'm just going to let it go,” because it will catch up with you and you just wanna do everything by the books and do your taxes, get the proper licenses, talk to the right people. I know it seem scary at first, but overall it’s for the best. And then you feel really good after it’s all done. I'm one of those kinds of people – I was petrified to go talk to somebody once I figured out what I was doing and that I needed to do something, but I cannot stress to you enough how good you feel after you go and you're like, “Oh, well that wasn’t so bad; that wasn’t so scary.” Just go do it. CHUCK: Alright, well let’s do the picks. Eric, do you have some picks for us? ERIC: Yeah, so my pick is CorpUSA – it’s basically where I got my LLC kit. I think I got the high end because the price is just worth it. It’s a binder, has a lot of the templates and forms you need. I got a little – it’s like a hole punch seal thing; I even got official-looking – not stock certificates; I can’t remember what LLC calls it – but stock certificate-type things that have all these loopy drawings and stuff. If you have someone, or you do it yourself and do the incorporation or whatever, getting this would be a good idea just to have all of the stuff you need, because it gives you good templates. That kinda makes sure, like what Mandy said, you're always doing stuff by the book. You have it all in there, it’s all organized. I pull it off the shelf quite often because I’ll need my EIN number, which I put in there, and stuff like that. CHUCK: Awesome. Mandy, what are your picks? MANDY: I am going to pick Oyster. It’s basically the Netflix of books and it is awesome. The first [inaudible] you sign up and you get one month for free, and then after that, it’s $9.99/month, and you get to read all the books you can read, which is great for somebody like me who will, no lie, go through two or three big books a week. There are some great titles in there; not all the titles that you can ever imagine. A lot of times, new books that come out, they're not there right away, which is kinda the same deal with Netflix. You can go through and just mark a bunch of books as ones that you think are going to be interesting or right up your alley, and give them a star. Once you finish a book, go through that list and be like, “Yup, I'm in the mood for a good memoir” and pick one of those out. I read a book every night before I go to sleep and I can’t say enough good things about Oyster. If you wanna try it out, I have an affiliate link in the picks section. It’d be cool if you click on it, so that’s what I got that. CHUCK: So are they e-books, or audio books, or –? MANDY: They're e-books. It’s just an app that you download on your phone and it’s called Oyster. You sign in, just like Netflix, and you can put it in your iPad, your iPhone, probably even your Mac. I don’t read on my computer; I just read on my phone or my iPad, but it’s just awesome. I just can’t say enough good things about it. I've already read a book about Pat [inaudible], which is really interesting. A couple of other – I'm really big in the memoirs, so that’s kinda my thing; a lot of rock history. My fiancé, we can actually share an account, and he is reading all the J.R.R. Tolkien books right now, rereading all the Lord of the Rings books which are on there and he’s absolutely loving it. We sit in bed, in the dark, and read off of the iPad and the phone and it’s great. CHUCK: Very nice. Alright, well, it’s been kind of a hectic week for me and I don’t know if I have any picks. I'm just going to pile onto Mandy’s pick a little bit and mention Audible, which is my preferred way of doing things when I'm out running errands, or mowing the lawn, or whatever – I’ll turn on an audio book and listen to that. I'm really an audio guy; I listen to podcasts all the time, so audio books are just another way to do that, and they have some pretty good business books and stuff. In fact, one or two of the book club books, I actually listen to instead of reading, and they’ve been pretty darn good. I guess I’ll make that my pick, and we’ll wrap up. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net] [Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]