Thursday, March 23, 2006


Argh! I'm trying to find out information about what I need to do to legally be able to operate a business out of my home... since technically that's what I'd be doing, making things for Susan to sell on her website. It's been like trying to run uphill on a treadmill.

I checked with the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service to see what you have to do to be able to sell fruit preserves to see if it's even worth it. Their website doesn't entirely exist, it's all links to other county sites and to the University of Florida( in Gainsville!) which actually hosts and runs the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension. ::rolls eyes:: All information seems to be about how to be a good consumer and about how to start and operate large-scale agricultural businesses... no info about home-based stuff. But there was a link to the Hillsborough County Small Business Development Center... Also mostly geared to the larger small businesses. I just want to sell a few jars of jam, some soap and knitted stuff! And there isn't very much online about specifics or regulations, just general information. Everyone has to do this, everyone has to do that, everyone must obtain a... I wrote them a letter, since they are supposed to offer free small business start-up counseling, telling them about my specific situation and what I want to do and asking what of all this info applies to me, since I'm not renting a store front, not offering a service, not selling anything at this time in the state of Florida or in Hillsborough County... Hopefully, they will answer my questions in a meaningful and helpful way, instead of just giving the standard bureaucratic answer of "fill out these forms in triplicate, file them in such-and-such an office located downtown in a bad neighborhood with the nearest public parking three miles away, get approval for a RC3PO-18 and bring it back here... and by the way, we're closed tomorrow."

If the information on the site is correct and applies, it doesn't seem to be a matter of health regulations... not that I can find any info about selling things like soap or preserves - Why would someone living in Florida need to do that? We don't live in Arkansas... We have grocery stores... (that was sarcasm) - it's a matter of taxes and zoning regulations. I have to get approval to operate a business, even a very small one, from the permitting and zoning departments downtown (2 separate entities and I have to get approval from both independently). Then I have to get an occupational license. To do that, I have to already have state licensing documents, location address, and a description of the business... Lucky for me, apparently there's like 6 places in the county where I can "walk-in" and get a license and one of them is only 6 miles from here on the way to USF... I just have to get all the state stuff first and I haven't even looked into that. Then there's the tax information... not only would I need to worry about Federal and State income tax, which I've never needed to pay before because I've never had a significantly paying job, but also sales tax... 6% to the State of Florida and 1% to Hillsborough County... and then there's the "Tangible Asset Tax", which I guess would have to be assessed... even though the only stuff I'd own is wool, knitting needles, a spinning wheel, spindles, a soap pot, a dye pot, some spoons and various kitchen utensils, molds, jars... I don't even own the tree I'd be getting my fruit from or the plants for dyes... technically they are on my parents' property... and all of that would not even be used exclusively for the business... But if this website is correct, it all has to be listed and registered apparently as business-related assets. There is also the possibility of ambiguous "additional fees"... ::rolls eyes again:: For pity's sake...

I want to do this and do it right... play by the rules, in good faith, and make sure I won't suddenly get in trouble for "forgetting" to check into all this before starting one of these days... I think... But I don't want to spend all this money (I don't have all that much to begin with) if it's going to turn out to be impossible... and I don't even know how much longer I'll be living in Florida or how much time I'll have for all of this after this summer with finishing up school next year... I hope... It's turning into a big pain in the ass, as much or more of a pain than dealing with the bureaucracy at USF (don’t even get me started on that, I’ll cry), and that pisses me off 'cause I thought this could be fun, low-key, and maybe even profitable, and did I mention fun?... but it's all just turning into a big tangled mess... And not even a mess of my making, more like a mess (of red tape) that an uninvited guest (the government) made, stuffed under a rug (my dream of a fun, small, probably short time business venture) and then left for me to trip over. ::sighs:: This sucks... If I didn't want to do this so badly, I'd just say "fuck it!" but I do...

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