Question About Home-Based Legalities And More

Business By trumpetmidget Updated 20 Oct 2007 , 3:41am by indydebi

trumpetmidget Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 1:40am
post #1 of 10

I am about to go through the process to get licensed in PA. I have my letter from the borough and just need to get the stuff to the dpa. Anyway, I had a few questions for anyone who may have answers. Please help if you can.
I want my business to be seperate from myself...this way if someone sues, they can't get my house, etc. How do I do this? I know to get the ficticious (sp?) name and tax ID. What else do I need to do?
Do you have seperate insurance for your business? How much does that run a year, if you are willing to share?
Do you have contracts for all your cakes, or just the big ticket cakes like weddings?
How do you cover yourself for peanut allergies, etc, so people don't come at you?
For basic cake orders, do you do them over the phone or do you meet all your customers in person?
Alright, I know I have a ton of questions. Any advice would be welcomed. My biggest fear is getting sued, but I guess you can't live your dream if you don't take a chance.
Thanks for all your help!

9 replies
PGray315 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 2:20am
post #2 of 10

I don't have answers for all your questions, but I can adress a few. I have my business insured as an add on to my homeowners policy. It was suggested by my ins. agent. It is only about $20 extra a year. Your agent could guide you as to what would be best for you in PA (I am in ME).

As for food allergies, I have a regular customer with a peanut allergy. When she orders she always reminds me. It is up to the customer to inform you that there is an alergy. However, I find it easier to purchase ingredients that does not contain or has not been processed in a place where nuts have been processed.
Other allergies have been brought to my attention from customers were, food dyes, dairy, and shortening. I have been selling cakes for years and have never been sued.

Good Luck with your business!

PGray315 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 2:29am
post #3 of 10

I don't have answers for all your questions, but I can adress a few. I have my business insured as an add on to my homeowners policy. It was suggested by my ins. agent. It is only about $20 extra a year. Your agent could guide you as to what would be best for you in PA (I am in ME).

As for food allergies, I have a regular customer with a peanut allergy. When she orders she always reminds me. It is up to the customer to inform you that there is an alergy. However, I find it easier to purchase ingredients that does not contain or has not been processed in a place where nuts have been processed.
Other allergies have been brought to my attention from customers were, food dyes, dairy, and shortening. I have been selling cakes for years and have never been sued.

Good Luck with your business!

mgdqueen Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 2:31am
post #4 of 10

If you filed a business name, you should have filed whether you are a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc then. If you haven't done that yet you need to. That is what keeps your personal space away from the business. An addition to your homeowners policy is great if your insurer will do that.

I do not have a contract on small cakes...just on cakes over $100.

I agree with the above on the allergy issues.

Good luck!!

Michele01 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 2:47am
post #5 of 10

Ok, being sued was a big worry to me too. If you become a Limited Liability Corporation, they can only sue the business. (L.L.C) I think I paid $150.00 for this and $50.00 anually. I am in Virginia Beach though, so the cost may be different. I also had to apply to pay monthly taxes on my sales. Check into it, because I thought it was something I just paid in full at the end of the year, but two months into my business I found out I was wrong. But I thought my accountant would have told me that. icon_confused.gif Also, make sure you have a seperate business bank accountant. I have seperate contracts for both wedding and party cakes. I also have a form for when I deliver cakes. It basically states that the customer has looked over the cake and everything is well. It also lets them know that once I leave, I am no longer responsible for the cake. As far as taking orders, I have done orders both over the phone, and in person. I live in a tourist town, so sometimes I have to do them over the phone. Even wedding cakes, which can be a little scary. Doing home consultations are scary at first, but you get used to it. I prefer to do it that way now, so that you know exactly what the customer wants. For the allergy question, you can make labels stating what's in the product. My inspector said that I should use the ingredients that are in parentesis on my labels. I hope this helps you out some.

trumpetmidget Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 2:47am
post #6 of 10

How do you become an LLC? I didn't see that on the fictitious name form, though I may have missed it. I haven't done the tax ID form yet. Maybe it is on that? TFTH

sassycleo Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 3:00am
post #7 of 10

I'm originally from Pa, but live in VA currently which is where I've gotten licensed and set up my business. Both are commonwealth states so I don't believe they are going to be way different. When setting up your business you should probably first check with your State Corporation Commission and fill out the forms and pay the fee to search for your company name. If they don't have it already registered to someone in the same state your good to proceed and they will send you the official document stating it's your name. Here in VA that step costs $100.

After that go to the irs website www.irs.gov and look up how to file an EIN. You will need that if you want to be viewed as an official business. That was an easy step and could be done online.

Get your inspection. Once that is done go to the local courthouse to get a business license. The steps might be a little different. I had to go register my name with the records room get the ok from the permit dept(which was a piece of cake pardon the pun literally because I had my inspection paperwork in hand.) Once that is completed get your business license issued.

You are then official. There are some other forms to fill out and send into the Irs dependant on what type of business you set up. Per a very smart account who is helping me free of charge set yourself up as an LLC, and think about an SCorp. There is a little bit more paperwork to do through the year however the tax benefits really really make up for it in the end.

When I had my inspection, the inspector suggested that you have the eight most common food allergies listed on the label that it may contain them and bold it. Also put a line in your cake contract for your larger cakes. As long as you have that your covered. If you use Wilton's Cake Release , there is soy in that. Even though your not putting it literally in the cake as an ingredient there is residual left and could affect someone with a Soy allergy.

He also stated that as a business you should get Liability Insurance and for a million dollar policy he's heard from other people he's dealt with that it is only approx. $130 a year.

You could also when talking with your customer bring up the allergy thing and ask if there are any known allergies. It doesn't hurt to ask and it helps you cover yourself.

Hope this helps!
Alicia

Michele01 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 3:03am
post #8 of 10
seebring77 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 3:29am
post #9 of 10

check out legalzoom.com [/url]for DBA and also your tax and it has other useful stuff too!! I just used it for DBA.

indydebi Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 3:41am
post #10 of 10

While you CAN file the LLC paperwork yourself, I recommend that you get an attorney to take care of all of this for you. It was Martha Stuart who said if you think you are saving money by not getting an attorney up front, you are just fooling yourself. She may have gone to jail, but she's a billionaire and I tend to listen to successful people.

My attorney took care of filing the LLC, confirming the name was usable, filing the name wiht the state, obtaining the EIN and all of that.

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