Ask FreelanceSwitch: Incorporation and Working with Family
In this issue of Ask FreelanceSwitch, we look at incorporation and working with family. Ask FreelanceSwitch is a regular column here that allows us to help beginners get a grip on freelancing. If you have a question about freelancing that you want answered, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are just getting started, is it too early to incorporate your business? If yes, when is a good time to incorporate?
I actually incorporated fairly early for a freelancer — about two years after I started freelancing full-time. My reasons for incorporation were based on having a few other things going on than straight up freelancing (including bringing in subcontractors). For many freelancers, incorporation is something that can be put off indefinitely.
Incorporation means that you’re going to need to pay out money every year to maintain your corporate status, pay extra money to your tax preparer and spend time on extra paperwork.
I’d generally wait until a CPA or other business advisor says that you really need to incorporate: you do get benefits if you might otherwise be liable for a problem, but I’ve only heard of a handful of cases where freelancers faced such issues. Generally, we can get by without incorporation.
I have a degree in graphic design, however since I’ve been teaching for 15 years, 3 years ago I decided to focus on the teaching. Since I really enjoy designing, I design for my school and help out a friend who freelances.
Here’s my bind. I borrowed some money from my sister and we agreed that I would pay her back through design work which at the time seemed pretty straight-forward and simple. You are, obviously, laughing at my last point.
I adore designing websites. I have my system, my rules, my ideas backed-up with theory (most of this thanks to you guys). But all I get are NOs. No images, not that font, not that template, not that name for those links, no, no, no. I feel just heartbroken because I care for my sister and her business partners and I really want the project to work and for them to have an awesome website. It’s starting to take affect me, because I have to take time from my weekend to work on this and spend less time with my daughter.
I’ve basically had to design the site 3 times, and we are now finally at a point where we are almost done. What is really hard for me is that they have asked everyone for their opinions, even conducted surveys, seems like everyone else’s opinions are more important than mine.
So to sum up, here’s my question: What is the best way to tell someone you care about that clients really need to have a clear vision of what they want and that designers deserve respect because they have studied and worked at their trade? I love my sister and maintaining a great relationship is very important.
I’d be wary of trying to draw a line in the sand on this project. Your relationship with your sister could take some damage, at the very least. It may be better to just get the project done and get out. If the important thing to you is maintaining your relationship with your sister, biting your tongue may truly be the best option.
If you feel that your sister can take the truth, I’d suggest writing out your sense of the situation. You can frame it as a set of suggestions for your sister’s business for future creative projects if you want to tread lightly. But if you were dealing with a client who you aren’t related to, you would still need to write out everything. That’s because you need to be very clear on what you want to share with a client and you can’t count on being able to communicate effectively in person once you get emotional about a situation.
I have to say that I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with working with families. I flat out don’t do it anymore. That colors my recommendations, I’m sure. But working with someone who remembers all the ridiculous things you did when you were little is much harder than working with a client you’ve never met before.
I’m not saying that your sister (or any other relative) automatically can’t respect you, but she’s going to think that she already knows what you think and she’s going to remember plenty of times that you were wrong. That’s why I just won’t take on a project from a relative anymore.
You should always seek independent financial advice and thoroughly read terms and conditions relating to any insurance, tax, legal, or financial issue, service, or product. This article is intended as a guide only.