My 2020 Covid Project: autonomy

The company I have worked for over the past 5 years, really becoming part of the company family, closed its doors for the foreseeable future and sent all employees home, either laid off or furloughed.

Today I set out to establish a business entity to cover my contract work while I’m on furlough due to COVID-19’s impact on the travel industry. I’m a developer, but I’m in the marketing department of an international ferry leisure travel service and I answer to the Chief Marketing Officer directly.

So we shut down operations starting in April, followed by a cut in hours by June, then furloughed as of the first week in August. Which means that while Clipper has no work for me, I still have a job when they resume operations but can collect unemployment benefits in the meantime.

I also have enough personal safety net to help me get to next spring financially as long as I have either unemployment income or can pick up some contract work. The extra $600 we were getting in the beginning was absolutely effective in helping me get myself to a comfortable spot as Covid was winding up with no way of knowing how long we’d be grounded. I socked every extra cent away, spending what I could to improve the work from home spaces my kids and I will be using more and more, especially when school starts back up.

Very soon after I was furloughed, I was contacted by a very nice woman on the marketing team for Vexcel Imaging. They were looking for someone to maintain, optimize, and document existing websites and to create a couple of websites using new domains and WordPress.

That was followed by another connection and a second client. And a third. And then someone asked me if I know anything about SEO. I know how to implement SEO on a site, but it’s always been someone else doing the actual SEO, which is about way more than just putting code on a site. That would be my friend and colleague, Melissa.

So then I started trying to figure out the easiest way to do invoicing and time tracking. I first read some technical articles about how to run a freelance business for beginners to find the services and software I’d need to investigate. Links coming. Not to get too far ahead of myself, but every one I read mentioned FreshBooks as an all-in-one stop for the business side of running your own business. They offer a 7 day trial, although you know as soon as you load up the dashboard whether it’s something you’ll be able to learn to use, so I signed up for an account with FreshBooks.com. (I get $25 account credit if you sign up for a paid plan with that link. I get nothing from this link, if that matters to you.)

Setting Up an LLC in Washington State

I’ll start this story tomorrow, but let me just say that I registered an LLC today. I thought it was going to be a complicated process since there are so many services offering to do it for you for $350. But it turns out all you have to do is fill out a form on the Secretary of State website and pay the $200 filing fee.

Of course there’s more to it than that and you may want an accountant at this point. But basically I picked a name, LocalBox, LLC., searched for trademark conflicts, and got through the rest of the form in a couple of minutes. Had to look up some definitions, like what is an executor for the business and am I my own agent? Apparently entities can’t be their own agent. So I must be the agent and LocalBox must be the entity, right?

I registered it on my 49th birthday, August 26, 2020. The future is completely up in the air right now.

Starts today.