In Part 1, I discussed ways to build your business support team as a means to move you forward in creating your birth business. Today, I will provide a few resources to help you determine what you need to know about in order to start your business in your particular state.
Research the Federal and State Requirements to Start a Business
State Requirements. Each state has its own requirements and laws for starting a business. Some may require you obtain a business license, while others may only require you register your business name. If you are planning to sell any products along with your doula services, you may need to pay sales taxes to the state and will need to obtain a special permit in order to do so.
This website has links to all the state's government sites to see what you must do in your state to start your business.
Many birth professionals consider setting up their business as a limited liability company or LLC. It is set up with your state's Secretary of State, and having an LLC offers you, the owner liability protection in case of a lawsuit. Here are a couple of articles that talk about LLCs:
Advantages of an LLC
How to Form an LLC
The Internal Revenue Service. When you begin to attend births as a doula, you must pay taxes on the income you earn to the Internal Revenue Service. Even if you plan to initially offer your services for free, anything money you spend for your business can be deducted in some way on your tax return as a business expense. The IRS' portal for small businesses is comprehensive and has many helpful articles, links, and online classes to help you learn how to be compliant with tax laws when you have a small business.
If you have questions about any of the information you find online, contact your state offices or the IRS and ask them. In my experience, especially with the IRS and Sales Tax office here in Texas, these are great free resources to utilize, and I've always talked to very knowledgeable representatives.
Small Business Counseling. Another free resource available to any business owner is SCORE by the Small Business Association. SCORE is a non-profit association of over 10,000 counselors – experienced business owners and executives – who volunteer their services to help new entrepreneurs. At SCORE's website, you can request business advice online or meet with a counselor locally. Free.
Researching these requirements may not be fun. Doing the work to set up your business can be tedious. Depending on your state, you may be able to do some of these registrations online, by mail, or fax, which can make things easier for you. Even the IRS allows you to apply online for an Employer Identification Number, (EIN).
Even if you don't yet have your business name figured out, creating a step-by-step checklist of what needs to be done will keep you moving forward in a systematic way once you are ready to make yourself a bonafide legal business.
In Part 3, I'll offer some low-cost resources to help you learn more about business basics.