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Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Gig Workers of All Types Paperback – February 24, 2014
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**I just finished the book today and was impressed with instructions on how to write your own contracts and critically review an client contracts for unfair clauses that could hurt your business. This is an outstanding book!
First of all, it seems strange to me that a book titled "working for yourself", with the words "laws and taxes for the ONE PERSON business" plastered across the back cover, has so much information about hiring and managing employees (an entire chapter plus multiple blurbs throughout. - employee taxes/salaries/health coverage requirements/etc.) I have absolutely no need for any of this information.
Also, relatively loaded (i.e. compared to other topics, this particular one spans pages rather than sentences) with information about keeping trade secrets and nondisclosure agreements, etc. (totally useless for me and I am having trouble of thinking of many businesses that would need this - maybe YOURS?)
Some of the most pertinent (i.e. USABLE) information for my type of business includes what might be called "record keeping for the thickheaded" and extremely basic facts about the income tax system (such as a list of the dates on which quarterlies are due). (information I am already quite familiar with and which is available for free and in a more complete package right here on the grand 'ole internet - recommend checking the IRS website).
It feels like this book is written for someone who has never even been inside a business (as a customer/client/employee or otherwise), let alone RUN a business; it may help you out if you are a member of an alien species with no concept of money/exchange/capitalism/business.... i.e. if you don't have the slightest clue about anything business related (in the most overwhelming sense). Some of my favorite tips include : you should keep records of your income with the date/source listed with each payment ... it is best if contracts are signed by both parties in ink ... and "most states have income taxes too"... other interesting topics are 'how to determine your hourly rate', 'you need insurance', and 'don't lose those receipts'.
Further, I personally find it annoying that every couple of pages there is a recommendation of one or more other books published by NOLO that you should go out and buy to get more complete information on that particular topic (that is, if you manage to find anything useful in the first place). If i wanted to see the NOLO catalog, I'd go to their website, not spend 30 bucks on a book about running a business.
As I say in the subject line, I blame myself for thinking this could possibly be what I wanted... the usable information (again, for me personally) is far from hard-to-find, and far from USEFUL. The book borders on INSULTINGLY low brow and basic... I presume I could find SOME information that applies to what I do, but it would mostly be me trying to excuse my blunder of buying this book sight unseen. It is very likely I will return it... I suppose you may like this book, as it seems nearly all of the other reviewers do (maybe THIS is why so many small business fail, eh?). This is my opinion and my impression right off the bat. Maybe, I'd like to say HOPEFULLY, there is something buried in between all of the garbage that could be useful but I am not sure if it warrants digging through and risking not only further disappointment, but (worst of all) possibly not being able to return it.. I think it says a lot (but nothing good) about a book if you have to look that hard for "the good stuff" anyways...
The information on paying estimated taxes also turned out to be spot-on. What could have been a worry and anxiety producing matter turned out to be routine the first time I did it. When I already knew what to do but just wanted verification and source support, this book helped and easily justified the purchase.
The book is well-organized, nicely laid out, and has self-contained chapters such that it's easy to read the book in pieces, when you reach the point of dealing with that particular part of establishing the business. For example, I started with the sections on business structures, taxes and licensing and permits. Then I moved on to the sections on home office vs. outside office. Now I'm moving into the sections on pricing my services, developing client agreements and how to help make sure your clients pay. Shortly I'll be moving into record-keeping and accounting. And soon thereafter I'll be looking at the sections on insuring the business and paying estimated taxes.
Each business owner will hit these issues in slightly different order, and this book makes it really easy to get the answers you need quickly. If I have a specific question, I can look at the table of contents and figure out immediately which of one or two sections should have the answer I need right now. The book is written to be digestible to anyone; while it doesn't "dumb down" the subject matter, it also doesn't discuss things in a way that is over your head.
I've picked this book up at least twice a week for the last twelve weeks. Invaluable.
NOTE: this edition is for independent contractors, freelancers and consultants - mainly people whose primary purpose is to provide a SERVICE (where goods/materials are incidental.) If you're primarily looking to provide GOODS (in other words, sell tangible products) then please be aware that Nolo makes a different guide for that, and this is not the best version for you.
Covers everything from pricing, contracts, and taxes. If you have done your own research there might not be much new info here, but it will still serve you well as a reference and reminder of the things you should be doing. It also clarifies some issues (i.e., Employee vs. Independent Contractors relationships) that some people (even small business owners) don't know or don't understand.