Where should you Incorporate: Delaware or WA??

If you are a Startup and you are headquartered here in the State of Washington, more often then not, you are better off incorporating in the State of Washington. Yes, I do know that Delaware has strong case law and VC’s and angel investors may be more comfortable with Delaware but it does not mean its the best (or only) option for your Start up.

Here is a list of reasons you SHOULD incorporate in WA if you are located here:

  1. Washington Courts usually look to Delaware courts as precedent anyways. WA courts recognize the depth of case law that DE courts have handled and will consider their decisions as persuasive.
  2. If you get sued in the State of Washington you get to keep your attorney or hire a local legal counsel. You will not have to go to Delaware or hire someone there to defend you.
  3. It’s cheaper to incorporate here and you can be your own registered agent. If you incorporate in Delaware you will have to pay the filing fees, plus maintain a registered agent in the State, and file as a ‘foreign’ corporation in the State of Washington and depending on the type of business you have in Washington you might have to get a city license as well.
  4. WASHINGTON CORPORATIONS RECEIVE FUNDING from Venture Capital Firms (See reports on Techflash, Geekwire, etc.).  You can even look up the firms that received funding and it might surprise you to find out that a lot of them are incorporated here in WA.  However, If for some reason a Venture Capitalist/Investor asked you to reincorporate to DE it wouldn’t be that hard to do so don’t sweat it.

If you still want to incorporate in Delaware don’t worry I can’ help you do that but I may ask you why and ask if one of the reasons below applies to your situation?

Here are some reasons why you might incorporate in DE and reject what I have stated above.

  • The VC told you to.
  • The Angel Investor to asked you to.
  • You plan on having ‘brick and mortar’ businesses all around the country.
  • You are thinking about taking your business to the international level.
  • You are planning on getting funding from VC’s around the world/nation.
  • Your headquarters are not in the State of WA.

If you would like to discuss this more please feel free to contact me.

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Workers Compensation for Business Owners

The University of Washington Business and Economic Development Center is currently offering a business certificate program for local business owners. I enrolled in the program and although I do have a business background I have found it very valuable.  Last week the instructors were from the Department of Labor and Industries. They spoke in great detail about workers compensation including how to apply, how to make a claim, what to do if you receive a claim as an employer, etc. One specific topic that I found very interesting and would like to share with you is Workers Compensation benefits available for business owners.  The State of Washington allows business owners (i.e. Sole Proprietors; LLC Members; Owners of Corporation) the option to open an account with the Department of Licensing and purchase workers compensation insurance which in short covers approved medical, hospital, and related services due to workplace injuries AND compensation for those who are temporarily unable to work full time.

Key items to note before submitting your application.

1. How do they define Business Owner for purposes of applying for elective coverage:

  • Sole Proprietor or Partner in Business
  • Members of a Limited Liability Company (if they manage the LLC and there are no Managers)
  • Managers of a Limited Liability Company who are also Members and exercise substantial control over the daily activities of the Company.  Note: Only 8 managers may be exempted.
  • Corporate Officers of a Corporation can also apply if they meet the following requirements:
    • Non Public Corporation: Must be a Corporate Officer (elected in accordance with the ByLaws and Articles of Incorporation of the Corporation) and a Shareholder AND have substantial control over the daily management of the Corporation. (Note: Maximum is 8 officers)
    • Public Corporation: Same as Non Public PLUS you must also be a Director and can not perform manual labor.
    • Primary duties do not include manual labor.

2.  REPORTING REQUIREMENTS- The Department of Labor and Industries requires that you (business owner) report the following:

  • Hours worked by the Business Owner (or Officer) in the classification assigned to your business that is applicable to the work being performed by the Business Owner (or Officer).
  • Report and pay premiums for 480 hours or actual hours worked each quarter for each covered owner (or officer) and in the applicable workers compensation classification code.

If you are wondering why as a business owner you would even want workers compensation coverage? Here are three reasons to consider it:

1. Availability. It is actually available to you in the State of Washington. Its a program run and controlled by the State of Washington.

2. Affordability. Its not that expensive. For those of us who are not in jobs that carry a high risk of injury  the premium is fairly low.  Check out the base rate tables for more information.

3. Security.  As a Business Owner especially those of us who are solos we wear many hats and if we were to get injured on the job what would happen to the business?? Well wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra money coming in to cover medical cost and some time off while you recover? I think so.

Click here to download to the application- Its only 2 pages!
Posted in Business Owner, Employee/Employer, Independent Contractor, Seattle Law, Small Business, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEED A REFERRAL

You have come to the right spot. Below is a list of people that I have either worked or collaborated with and would trust enough to refer you to their services.

CPA’s and Bookkeepers

Deborah Asavarahapun
Accounting for Small Business LLC
6308 8th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
206-522-0698 office
deborah@afsbinc.com
Jeffrey Levell
Count on That LLC
1st West Building
200 1st Ave., West, Suite 401
Seattle, WA  98119
Office (206) 734-3706
jeff@countonthat.com
David Bentler
Methodos Group Inc.
methodosgroup@me.com
425-830-3270

Looking for help with just your taxes?

Mariette Knoblauch
Ballard Beancounters
mariette@ballardbeancounters.com
1752 NW Market St. Num 439
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 484-0539

Need a banker or a new one?

Francie J. Han
Vice President, Business Deposit Specialist
IronStone Bank - A division of First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
100 4th Avenue North Suite 130
Seattle, WA 98109
206.374.7613 – O
francie.han@ironstone.com

Help Managing your Money?

Kristine Kanno
Investment Adviser Representative*
TEN Strategic Wealth Group
5400 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA  98033
Main: 206.251.8942

Brand Design and Development

Gregor Schmidt
Studio 5 Creative
114 1/2 First Avenue South, Suite 5
Seattle, WA 98104-2565
gregor@studio5creative.com
206-264-2428

Website Development

Conflare LLC *This is the team that did my website!
Randy Steiger
8 Boston St. ste 7
Seattle, WA 98109
info@conflare.com
800-6504586

Search Engine Optimization

A SEO PRO
info@aseopro.com
360-393-9761
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Business Accounts: What do Banks require to open an account?

I recently met with Francie Han, Vice President, Business Deposit Specialist at IronStone Bank for lunch. We met late last year at a networking event in Bellevue. Since that time Francie has gone out of her way to introduced me to a number of members of her network.  As a business owner it is important to surround yourself with the right advisors and people who care about what you are doing and will help you when needed.  I admire her ability to recognize needs of business owners and help connect them to the right person or service provider. She, herself works diligently with business owners to navigate the world of business and personal checking, savings, money markets, credit cards, merchant services, planning etc. Since she is an expert at opening business accounts I thought I would find out from the Banker what are the common issues or problems that usually come up when opening an account.  She explained that it can be a lot of paperwork and it helps to work with a banker who knows your business to help you navigate the system. She advised that one of the best ways to streamline the process is to come in with proper identification and the right business information and documents in hand. Below is a list of items most banks generally require.

Please note that all banks have different requirements to open a business account so it is best to contact your bank and find out what all is needed.

Required Business Information:

  • Business Legal Name and any dbas (“doing business as”)
  • Primary Contact Information
  • Physical and Mailing addresses
  • Business Phone, Fax and website information.

Additional Documentation by Entity

Corporation

  • Certified Articles of Incorporation
  • State of WA-Issued business license or a copy of website application containing the UBI (Unified Business Information) Number.
  • Corporate Resolutions completed and SIGNED

Limited Liability Company

  • Certificate of Formation issued by the Secretary of State
  • Signed Operating Agreement
  • State of WA-Issued Business License or website application with UBI (Unified Business Identification) information
  • Declaration of Unincorporated Business completed and signed (Bank provides this form)

Limited Partnership

  • Certificate of Limited Partnership
  • Copy of Partnership Agreement
  • State of WA-Issued Business License or website application with UBI (Unified Business Identification) information
  • Declaration of Unincorporated Business completed and signed (Bank provides this form)

Partnership

  • Partnership Agreement
  • State of WA-Issued Business License or website application with UBI (Unified Business Identification) information
  • Declaration of Unincorporated Business completed and signed (Bank provides this form)

Unincorporated Association or Non-Profit

  • IRS 501 Exempt Letter for Non Profit Status
  • Organizational documents (i.e. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws)
  • Declaration of Unincorporated Business completed and signed (Bank provides this form)

Sole Proprietorship

  • Social Security Number
  • State of WA-Issued Business License with information on Trade name or website application with UBI (Unified Business Identification) and trade name.
  • Declaration of Unincorporated Business completed and signed (Bank provides this form)

If you are looking for a banker who is has integrity, is personable, and will do her best to help you and your business I highly recommend Francie Han at IronStone Bank.  I currently do not have an account with Ironstone but I consistently seek out advice from Francie about best practices for business owners. I’ve come to learn in my business that knowing the right banker and developing a real relationship with them makes all the difference.

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Clarifying the Tax Issue for Yoga Studios in Washington

Yoga in Washington State has been in the focus for the past several years, but not just for its spiritual and health benefits. Since 2008, the state has been pursuing yoga studios in an attempt to properly collect an excise tax. As a result, it is has become crucial for yoga studios and teachers to know whether or not they must charge their students a sales tax.

There is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to determining whether a particular yoga studio or teacher must collect the tax from their students. This is due primarily to the categorization of Yoga by the Washington State Department of Revenue. Under section 458-20-183 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), physical fitness services are taxed. Yoga is exempt from this requirement and in relevant part the statute states: “‘Physical fitness services’ do not include instructional lessons such as those for self-defense, martial arts, yoga, and stress-management.”

Essentially, the above-mentioned section categorizes yoga as instructional and distinguishes instructional lessons from exercise classes. Thus, generally the distinction between instructional lessons and physical fitness services depends on whether exercise is the primary focus.

Changes in Tax Policy Towards Yoga

So when the Department of Revenue began to audit yoga studios in November 2008, it came as a surprise to many studios and instructors. The Department had re-categorized yoga by dividing it into two categories: instructional lessons or exercise classes. The reason yoga studios and instructors were caught off guard, is a result of the Excise Tax Advisory 2023.08.183 issued in 2005 by the Department where it qualified yoga as a physical fitness service subject to sales tax.  But at the same time the Code referred to yoga as an instructional lesson.

Several yoga studios were told they were possibly liable for three years of back taxes. These studios would have little choice but to shutdown in the face of having to pay such a large amount. Other studios responded by charging their students sales tax, which ultimately led to an increase in monthly fees.

In appears that these taxes were not seriously enforced until the random sudden audits began in 2008. After much protest by yoga studios, the Department decided to reconsider its policy on yoga and re-classified its application of the tax rule on yoga. Moreover, the Department decided to no longer assess taxes prior to December 1, 2008.

Current Categorization of Yoga

In February 2009, the Department of Revenue issued Excise Tax Advisory 3003.2009 seeking to clear up the divisions it made within the previous classification of yoga. It delineates physical fitness services as activities of physical exertion where the purpose is the improvement or maintenance of an individual’s fitness and/or health.

On the other hand, it describes yoga as a philosophy and discipline where the primary purpose is breath regulation and meditation and the physical benefits are secondary. The Department labels the practice of the aforementioned description of yoga as a traditional yoga class. While yoga classes that fall under this description are exempt, other types of yoga classes are not.

If the Department determines that primary purpose of a yoga class is physical fitness, then the excise tax applies. To help explain what sort of classes fall under physical fitness services, the Department states that when yoga classes are “conducted at a health or athletic club, fitness center, health spa, or similar facility (‘fitness facility ’),” then it presumes that physical fitness is the primary focus. See page 2 of 3003.2009.

Maintaining Yoga Classes as Instructional

Auditing of yoga studios continues namely due to the confusing nature of the distinction between yoga as instructional lessons or exercise classes. It appears that the Department of Revenue has a limited scope of how people may practice yoga. Yoga’s popularity and growth is tied just as much with its adaptability and flexibility as it is with its rich history and traditions. While the Department focuses its distinction between practicing yoga for meditative purposes versus for physical wellbeing, yoga is a lifestyle that is meant to benefit both one’s mind and body.

With that in mind, yoga classes that could fall on either side of the Department’s categorization should underscore or incorporate the teaching of yoga’s history, philosophy, breathing regulation, and wellbeing through meditation. There is no clear line here, so the more a yoga class provides instruction in aspects of yoga in addition to physical postures and movement, the more likely the presumption that the primary purpose of the class is not physical fitness and thus becoming exempt from the excise tax.

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Reclassifying an Independent Contractor into an Employee

As we all know well, Independent contractors (ICs) must pay their own state and federal income taxes, and with employees an employer has to collect federal taxes and pay part of the Social Security and Medicare taxes. As a result, a number of business owners prefer to hire Independent Contractors. However, there exists a fine line between ICs and Employees and  there are a number of factors to consider to determine when determineing whether the person you have hired is an Independent Contractor or a disguised Employee.

After you have made the decision to converting an IC to an employee there are a number of formalities that need to be completed including, but not limited to, formally hiring the IC as an employee and placing them on a payroll. Several changes occur to the type of federal tax forms you issue to the worker, deductions you will need to make from their paychecks, and employment rules. In case you come across this phrase in the materials listed below, the IRS refers to this conversion process as “voluntary reclassification.”

When to begin the Conversion Process:

(1) During the current tax year. If reclassification is effective immediately, then for the 2010 tax period you will issue to your workers both a 1099-MISC and W-2 form.

(2) The beginning of the next tax year. If you keep workers as ICs until January 1, 2011 and then treat them as employees, only a 1099-MISC form is required for this year and W-2s will be used after that.

There is one little caveat with changing employment status. Due to ongoing legislation, the IRS has become stricter with the use of ICs and what employment relationship qualifies for IC status. Consequently, the IRS may audit an employer who reclassifies an employee as an IC to determine if there has been a significant change in the employment relationship to justify the reclassification.

However, that being said, a voluntary reclassification from IC-to-employee is less likely to come under scrutiny. To underscore this shift in your employment relationship with your workers, I suggest giving them formal offers of employment that outline their added responsibilities, work polices, etc., and maintain a copy of the letters along with their basic information. If you are converting several IC’s you may also consider putting together employment agreements and handbooks.

Below is a list of Federal and Washington State procedures and applications that must addressed before the conversion process is complete.

Federal and State procedures

Federal Procedures

  • Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS unless you already have one. It is also referred to as the Employer Tax ID or SS-4 Form. To contact the IRS directly for the EIN, the number is 1-800-829-4933. Apply for an EIN Online along with instructions
  • Complete the Employee Eligibility Verification I-9 form within three days of hiring your first employee. The form is not filed, instead an employer must maintain it as part of the worker’s records for 3 years after the date of hire or up to 1-year after termination of employment, whichever is later. Download Instructions and I-9 Form Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Pay half of the OASDI contribution under Social Security (Old-age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance). For 2010, this is 6.2% of wages paid up to annual wage base of $106,800. The employee’s share is also 6.2%.
  • Pay part hospital insurance contribution (Medicare). For 2010, this is 1.45% of all wages paid. The employee’s share is also 1.45%.
  • Issue W-2 forms at the end of tax period when employee status is effectively begins. W-2.
  • File either Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return 941 Form, or Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return 944 Form. Originally, small business with an annual income tax liability of $1000 or less were required to file the 944 Form. As of January 1, 2010, businesses may contact the IRS opt in or opt out of filing the 944. Reporting Federal Tax Return 941 Form.
  • File Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return (FUTA) if wages paid were $1500 or more for any quarter or one or more employees worked for you for at least 20 weeks out of the year. This comes from your own funds; employees’ wages are not withheld and used towards this. Reporting FUTA taxes and Instructions

WASHINGTON STATE PROCEDURES

  • Re-file your Master Business Application to indicate employee-hiring status. This will also register and open accounts for worker’s compensation with the Department of Labor and Industries and unemployment insurance with the Employment Security Department. Hiring Employees and Registering with Washington State
  • Report newly hired and re-hired employees to the state’s directory within 20-days. New Hire Reporting Program. You will need to enter your Federal EIN.
  • Obtain Worker’s Compensation Insurance either through a private insurer, Washington’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance program, or as self-insured. Also, file quarterly workers’ hour and compensation reports. Worker’s Compensation and More Information Here
  • File and Pay Unemployment Insurance Tax Here.
  • Meet minimum wage and hour requirements. Link to Washington State’s policies
  • Post required workplace labor posters State and Federal

EMPLOYMENT RECORDS TO MAINTAIN

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For questions on determining whether to convert your IC into an Employee as well as help completing the procedures please feel free to contact us.


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Is the person working for you really a disguised Employee?

Hiring Independent Contractors are a great way to get the additional help you need without having to worry about withholding taxes. Its also a good way to find out if the person you’ve hired to work for you is the right fit. However, the question that arises in the Employer/Independent Contractor scenario is whether the person working for you is truly an Independent Contractor or  is he/she really a disguised Employee? There is quite a bit of discussion on this topic and if you googled it i’m sure you would see loads of articles on the issue. The reason its so important is because if the IRS finds out that you have been disguising your employees as Independent Contractors you could be hit hard with penalties, back taxes, and fines.

To help you determine whether the person you have hired is an Independent Contractor consider the following:

  1. Do they have a flexible work schedule?
  2. Do you provide a significant amount of direction and/or supervision?
  3. Is the contractor allowed to work for other companies?
  4. Does the contract work for you on a daily basis and do you provide daily directions?
  5. Do you have an Agreement in place? and if so is the Agreement for a set term?

As you can see from this short list of questions the line between an Independent Contractor and an Employee is quite gray.  In general, if you feel that you as an Employer exercise significant control (i.e. direction, supervision, etc.) over the worker then you might have an Employee on your hands. If that is the case, then you need to take the steps to voluntarily reclassify the worker into an Employee. Check out the follow up post on Converting an Independent Contractor to an Employee for additional information on the process.

Posted in Independent Contractor, Seattle Law, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Guide to Etsy’s Terms of Use

In our previous blog post on Etsy, we covered key business considerations to keep in mind when starting an Etsy shop. And we went over some ideas for marketing using social networking and provided useful tools to help expand your visibility on Etsy. This blog is going to focus on your rights and obligations as an Etsy Shop Owner.

First, let’s examine Etsy’s requirements for selling and maintaining a shop. Then, move on to discussing Etsy’s Terms of Use regarding liability. Lastly, we will go over Etsy’s intellectual property policies.

Shop Requirements

Here is a list of things you should know before you sign up for an Etsy Account:

1. What are you allowed to sell on Etsy? Etsy provides a forum for the sale of handmade items, commercial and handmade crafting supplies, and vintage items. It does not allow the sale or re-sale of items that do not belong within the above stated categories. Please note that (1) Items sold as vintage must be 20 years or older; (2) Handmade means hand-assembled or significant alteration of a vintage item; and (3) handmade goods must be made either by the shop owner, artisans who collaborate together, multiple artisans selling through the same shop, or by a member of the shop owner’s household (a family member or close friend).

2. What information does Etsy collect? While it is free to register for an Etsy account, and become a “Shop Owner.” The Shop Owner is required to have a credit card on file for verification purposes or a valid PayPal account. Etsy also asks for the Shop Owner’s billing address, phone number, and a valid email address. Please review Etsy’s privacy policy for additional information on how the information is stored and collected.

3. Creating your Username: Usernames must be appropriate, not profane or offensive. The word “Etsy” cannot be a part of the username without permission. Etsy usernames are nearly permanent and can only be changed at Etsy’s discretion under limited circumstances.

4. How does Etsy make money? Etsy collects $0.20 (USD) from the Shop Owner for listing one quantity per item in a “shop”, the listing is good for a 4-month period. Upon the sale of an item, customers pay the Shop Owner (seller of the good) directly and the Shop Owner then pays Etsy a transaction fee. The transaction fee is 3.5% of the item’s sale price (this excludes shipping costs). Etsy issues monthly billing statements to the Shop Owner’s via email and through the website. Late payments could result in suspension and/or termination of account privileges. Click here to learn more about Etsy’s fees.

5. What else should a Shop Owner know about listing an item on Etsy? When a Shop Owner lists an item on Etsy this means two things (1) that the Shop Owner has agreed to abide by Etsy’s policies and (2) the Shop Owner has the legal authority to sell the item listed. Etsy’s policies require that the listings and descriptions are accurate, shipping and handling fees are reasonable, and that all sales are binding. In addition, Shop Owners are responsible for articulating their own shop policies for shipping, returns, payment, etc. Please note that Etsy does reserve the right to request modifications to the shop policies. These terms are Etsy’s way of telling you the “Shop Owner” that you are going to be responsible for your items, transactions, behavior, shop policies, etc. while in engaging in Etsy’s forum.

6. Can I sell my Etsy account? Etsy does not allow individuals or business entities to transfer or sell an Etsy account and/or User ID. Etsy instead encourages sellers to use other appropriate legal channels that one would normally use in the sale or transfer of a business (i.e buy/sell agreements) Also, sellers are prohibited from using the ‘shops’ to redirect traffic to another website or sales location, or cross post items listed as “unique” on more than one Etsy shop.

Etsy’s Terms of Use

Etsy holds itself out as a venue/channel that allows users to engage in the sale and purchase of handmade and vintage goods that comply with Etsy’s policies. Etsy is simply providing the venue for such activity and thus does not take on any liability with regard to the listing, the transactions, content, user behavior, etc. The Terms of Use states that it has no direct involvement or control over the listings or transactions. Etsy does not prescreen users, content, images, or other information that has been provided by its users. Esty does not provide any guarantee as to the user’s identity or that the transaction itself will be completed. Etsy is in no way involved with transferring legal ownership of an item from the seller to the buyer.

You are basically going to be using Etsy at your own risk! However, don’t let that turn you away as Etsy is a great venue and has been extraordinarily helping Creative Entrepreneurs display and sell their items and for some grow their business. I encourage you to consider the following when using Etsy:

1. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right about a transaction then something probably isn’t right.
2. Report behavior that you think is not appropriate (i.e. obscene images, unsolicited marketing, spam, etc.) especially if you feel that someone is stealing another’s idea or copyright.
3. If you feel that something you are about to post on Etsy may include someone else’s copyright or trademark: GET PERMISSION in writing!!! Or don’t post it at all until you have consulted with a trusted attorney.
4. Feel free to use third party user verification services or escrow services.
5. Always be honest and accurate with the description of your listings and other information about the items.
6. Review Etsy’s terms of use; Do’s and Don’t’s; Privacy Policy and their Intellectual Property Policy. If there is something you don’t understand feel free to leave a question in the comments section and I will do my best to answer your question.

A few more things you should know about Etsy’s Terms of Use:

1. Etsy views the relationship between users and the site as an independent contractor relationship which means that Etsy DOES NOT intend to create any employer/employee, joint-venture, or other similar arrangement with its users.
2. Etsy does not guarantee uninterrupted site access, service, and operation.
3. The Terms of Use contains an indemnification clause that basically means that if Etsy is pulled into a lawsuit, judgment, complaint, etc. as a result of the Shop Owner’s listing, transaction, or for any other reason related to the Shop Owner’s activity, then the Shop Owner agrees to indemnify (i.e. pay back) Etsy for its costs (i.e. settlement amounts, attorney’s fees, etc) involved in handling the matter.

Etsy’s Trademark Guidelines

You can use Etsy and your shop URL to promote your business, refer to it, or make commentary about Etsy. However, you cannot use the Etsy name, its trademark (it’s logo), and its trade dress (look and feel of the site) in materials to promote your shop. In other words, refrain from making any representations that would cause a third party to think your shop was endorsed, owned, or run by Etsy. Using the term “Etsy” or something confusingly similar as your business name, username, or for marketing without Etsy’s permission violates its trademark policy.

Etsy Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), if someone sends Etsy a DMCA takedown notice in compliance with its procedure for reporting copyright or intellectual property infringement, it may remove the alleged infringing material. If another user is infringing on your copyrighted work by reproducing, distributing, or using it to create a derivative work, you may contact Etsy to make a complaint or issue a takedown notice.

Posted in Creative Entrepreneur, Etsy, Small Business, Terms of Use, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Using Etsy For Your Business

How are you reaching out to your client-base? Choosing the right venue can be tricky. With more artists and crafters increasing their online presence, promoting your work is not as straightforward. Beyond marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, or Craiglist, the alternative is to select a niche service that connects your business to customers that seek out your style and specialty.

One such alternative to consider is Esty. As the leading online marketplace for artisans, Etsy’s focus on art and crafts sets it apart from other services like Ebay. Etsy provides sellers with web pages that serve as shop fronts. Sellers can display their handmade items, craft supplies, or vintage items that are at least 20-years-old. Sellers can personalize their shops with details about the seller’s work, vision, and custom services.

Whether you currently are a seller on Etsy or are looking to expand your business, let’s navigate through several key features. First, we will outline steps for setting up a shop on Etsy. Second, we will go over ways to increase visibility and promote your shop. For more complete information covering Etsy requirements and policies, please read the follow-up post A Guide to Etsy’s Terms and Conditions.

Getting Started

It is free to create and register an account on Etsy. However, it costs 20 cents to list an item in your shop for a 4-month period. Etsy also charges a 3.5% transaction fee from the price of the sold item (does not include shipping price).

Continue reading

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