To start a freelance graphic design business, what exactly do I need to do to start officially working and billing clients?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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To start a freelance graphic design business, what exactly do I need to do to start officially working and billing clients?

Just as the title says, I am in the process of launching a freelance graphic design business. I am in the state of Nevada, specifically Las Vegas Clark county. I have no employees or contractors. I am the only one in the business. Essentially, my business would work like this client contacts me and we discuss their project. I submit an official proposal/contract detailing the timeline, budget, specific deliverables, the terms for each party, etc. We both sign off on it, at which point the client would pay a non-refundable $50 deposit, with the other $50 to be paid after project completion and approval. Once it is paid, their deliverables will be sent and they will have full access to the designs. Does this sound correct? What specifically should be included in the proposal/contract? And most importantly, what do I need to do in order to set up and structure my business What do I need to file? Do I need an EIN? Do I need a separate bank account? Is there anything else that I need to know?

Asked on July 14, 2019 under Business Law, Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Ideally, hire an attorney to help you set up the business and draft your contracts. In brief, what you should have are:
1) An LLC to conduct the business under: it will protect your personal assets and you from the majority of business-related liability, such as if the business is sued by a disgruntedl client--they can sue the LLC, but not you personally.
2) Once you set up the LLC, it needs an EIN.
3) You will need a separate business bank account, which you must, to maintain the LLC, keep separate: don't mix in or "co-mingle" business and personal funds.
4) Business liability insurance, to protect you further; also insurance for any equipment or assets you have, and possibly business interruption insurance to ensure some income if you are unable to work for awhile due to fire, flood, etc.
5) The contracts just need to state all the terms: any deposits; the full amount due; the deliverables and deadlines and payment schedule; if the customer has any right to cancel and, if so, how, when, and what they get back from the deposit or other payments; whether the customer has to pay any costs you incur (like if you have to buy stock photos or upgrade a program); who owns what rights; etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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