Re: Starting a business

Subject: Re: Starting a business
From: "Lurker writer" <lurker_writer -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 07:17:12 -0500

Hoo-boy...not exactly the question to be asking at this stage, especially if you're already talking to clients and you don't know where to begin (I'd keep that a secret from your clients, Step 1).

First of all, don't depend totally on the legal or tax advice you get from this or any list. We don't know you're particular circumstances nor are we qualified to be able to do that. Consult with an attorney and accountant in your area who can help you best.

But we can give you some great ideas.

Best short-sentence recommendation: TODAY, go out and buy Peter Kent's book "Making Money in Technical Writing." It's aimed at freelancers, contractors, and there's some good info there for captives as well. Get 2 copies so you and your partner can read it and discuss it together as you go through it.

There are tons of books out there aimed at how to start a consulting/sole proprietorship/partnership/Sub-chapter S corporation/whatever...

I've worked for myself on two occasions: from 1991 to 1994, and briefly last year for about 6 months. I loved it both times, and both times I was lured back to work on bleeding edge technology with high-tech companies. I still do lots of freelance work.

Go to and search on key terms that are important to your endeavor. I'd recommend Paul and Sarah Edwards' book "Getting Business to Come to You." Check out the late Hermann Holtz's book, "STarting and Writing and Editing Business." It's geared more toward business writing, but there's lots of great info that will transfer to technical writing (he also has some great books on consulting and proposal writing). Robert Bly has several good books for business and technical writing (even though he's more a business/marcom writer), and I'd recommend those for ideas.

These books will advise you to think hard about the legal structure of your business. Don't get yourself in tax trouble. Consult with an attorney and with an accountant to get started the right way.

Stock up on Cheez-Whiz and crackers and hot dogs. Put as much of your money back into your business as you can. Don't rush out and buy matching stationery, business cards, promotional calendars, refrigerator magnets, etc. with your name/logo on them. In 1991, I was suckered into buying 500 various colored pens imprinted with my business name and tag line. I have 450 left and I'll bet all the ink has dried up.

And finally, network, network, network..which makes me think of another book: Power Networking: 55 Secrets for Personal and Professional Success..

Good luck...find that niche and burrow in.

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