Ready to Start a New Business in Washington State? Know these 10 things

The start of a new year always lends itself to dreaming – of new heights to achieve personally, new places to travel, new financial goals to set, and so much more. No matter how 2018 went for you, 2019 is a completely new canvas, and you have an opportunity to paint your brightest and boldest colors.

So why not start up that business you’ve always dreamt of? If you’ve been dreaming of leaving your day job and diving into something new, perhaps 2019 is the year to take the plunge!

After many years of hard work gaining experience and knowledge it should be easy to start, shouldn’t it?  Not really…starting a new business is exciting, but the path is also fraught with many details – small and large – that can seem tedious at best and overwhelming at worst.

If you decide to move forward, you could be on your way to making your dreams become a reality, creating the life you want and doing the things you love. But where to start? Below we’ve provided a 10 critical steps and knowledge points to help you get going.

Note that this list is specifically focused on Seattle-area Construction companies, but in many industries and locales there are likely some equivalent actions you will need to take, no matter the type of business you are starting. Now is the time to turn that dreaming into action!!!

Choose a Business Structure – Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Corporation, or LLC? There are specific tax implications for each option. We suggest meeting with a CPA who can walk you through the pros and cons of each to help you decide which option is best for you.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS – This number will allow you to open bank accounts for the business, apply for state business licenses, pay employer taxes, and file tax returns.

Register your Business with the Secretary of State – This is necessary if your new business will be a partnership, corporation, or llc.

Apply for a Washington State Business License – This will allow you to conduct business in the state. This application is where you will specify if you plan on hiring employees. If so, once you file this application, the two entities that handle unemployment insurance (Employment Security Department) and workers compensation (WA L&I) will be notified automatically and you will be assigned account numbers from each entity. Also, if you know you will be doing business in specific cities, you have the option to add city license endorsements while filing this application. Not all cities offer their licenses through this service, so check beforehand to see if your city has a separate application.

Purchase Bond & Liability Insurance – WA L&I requires contractors to have a surety bond for either $12,000 (General Contractor) or $6,000 (Specialty Contractor). Liability insurance coverage can be a $50,000 property damage policy and $200,000 public liability policy OR a $250,000 combined single limit policy. You can find more information here.

Complete Contractor Registration – This allows you to work as a licensed contractor in the state. Take your completed registration application and proof of your bond & insurance to any L&I office to have it notarized and processed.

Apply for City Licenses & Permits– Many cities in WA require you have a city license to conduct business there. Access WA is a helpful site that links to each city’s web page directly.

City of Seattle – Seattle has specific labor laws that are different than the state laws. If you will have employees working in Seattle, here is where you can find information on their requirements.

Apply for Reseller Permit This allows you to purchase materials purchased for direct resale without paying sales tax.

B&O and Sales Tax – Understanding the requirements specific to your industry is critical to be sure you are charging your customers the correct sales tax rates. DOR has provided a guide for contractors to understand their requirements.

Our Holiday Gratitude List

Wow – what a year 2018 has been! On the world stage, it started off with a bang with some amazing Olympic Winter games and was followed by a possibly even more exciting World Cup – not to mention all sorts of interesting political developments across the globe (to Brexit or not to Brexit…). On a national stage, much of the later part of the year was dominated by some horrendous wildfires, particularly in California. And although technology is continuing to advance at a rapid pace, science still can’t prove that candy corns are bad. Oh well, there’s always 2019! 

At Joy Accounting, 2018 was also a landmark year. We had a fantastic time meeting together as a team at QuickBooks Connect in San Jose. We continued to partner with small businesses to help them get to the next level. And we had a great time doing it! 

Those of you who know me (Nate) may also know that I love a good top 10 list. Read on for our Top 10 things we at Joy Accounting are grateful for as we close the book on 2018! 

10.  Technology that enables our remote team to connect as if we were in person. We utilize Zoom and Slack every day and are constantly working through daily challenges together and implementing solutions for our clients. And we can do it all in our sweat pants (if we so choose…). 

9. From our unbelievably amazing Accountant Kris: “Having a job that’s always interesting and consistently offers new challenges.” 

8. The ability to do life together with my incredible wife Terra (this one is from me obviously). Many couples don’t get to (or want to) see each other for large parts of the week since they are working in different locations. For most of the last year Terra and I have been working together from our home, and we use that time to brainstorm ways to take both our business and our clients’ businesses to the next level. It is truly a treat!

7. From our rock-star Lead Accountant Adrienne: “Having a flexible job that allows me to be the mom my kid needs.” (Adrienne, that seriously melts our hearts.)

6. The ability to design our business in a way that we’re able to pursue our interests and have a high quality of life. What this means practically is different for everyone on the team. For Terra and I, this means the ability to travel while still providing exceptional service. In 2018 we experienced two enormous bison casually walking through our campsite in Yellowstone, explored tremendous restaurants and locations in France, visited family in Montana and Colorado, and revisited the place I asked Terra to marry me 15 years ago (pictures below). And we did all of this while not missing a beat with our clients!

5. The opportunity to expand our horizons and branch out into new sectors that match with our passion. Recently we’ve taken on our first client in the Non-Profit sector! In one of Terra’s QuickBooks Connect classes, she heard an inspiring quote: “When a small business fails, it’s a family tragedy. When a non-profit fails, it’s a community tragedy.” This quote perfectly sums up why we have such a passion for small businesses in general; it is so difficult to manage a small business alone and we love partnering in a way that makes success more likely. This quote also shows why we are interested in moving further into the non-profit sector – non-profits are often the fabric that weaves a community together. 

4. Another one from Kris: “Feeling like I’m making a difference in the lives of my clients.”

3. Another one from Adrienne: “Having coworkers that are encouraging, collaborative, and fun.”

2. From our spectacularly talented Accountant Laura: “It comes down to our clients. They are amazing. It is so great to see our partnership with them help lead to their success.”

What is #1, you ask? Our team. Terra and I are so grateful for our team and proud of the work that they do. I cannot overstate the importance of hiring only the best; smart people who share your vision and passion. We have this at Joy Accounting – every one of our teammates are truly partners, from initial vision to the ultimate execution. Adrienne, Laura, Kris – thank you so much for everything you do!!!

Versailles!