I know I haven’t been following the weekly pattern for writing these but the last two weekends were a bit of a blur. I was able to enjoy the good weather and go out for long motorcycle rides out to the Olympic Peninsula. But I am glad to be sitting down and writing this today. Looking back at the past few weeks, a lot has happened.
No, not the one you are thinking of. It’s my business license and registration with the WA Department of Revenue (DOR). I had registered a sole-proprietorship initially but quickly realized that if I am going to do what I am doing full-time, I need to register an LLC. So I registered an LLC earlier this year. My sole proprietorship registration was coming up for renewal and I was going to let it lapse since I didn’t need it anymore and I wasn’t doing business under that ownership type anymore. Well, when I called the DOR they drew my attention to the Unified Business Identifier (UBI) that was printed on the certificate of formation they issued for my LLC. 🤦♂️ I had completely missed that. I scrambled to submit a registration for that with the DOR. Once I registered it I was then directed to file an excise tax return for the business for the last 8 months! I panicked to be honest. I was able to get them to waive the penalty on one of the returns but it seems they rejected my appeal on another one. Bummer!
I couldn’t help but think that the state could have just said: “hey, by the way, you’ll need to file an excise tax return for this newly formed LLC regardless of whether or not you have any business, so we went ahead and created the new DOR registration for you. Here you go. You’re welcome.”
It turns out that despite my business not being a retail business, because I offer consulting services I have to pay Business & Occupation taxes. It’s a flat 1.5% on the total revenue for any given month. Yeah. I can’t deduct business expenses. Great. So yeah I now have 4 very important things to pay for before I pay myself. Medical and dental insurance, Federal estimated taxes and WA DOR B&O taxes. Needless to say, I have reminders for the latter two. The medical and dental insurance are on auto pay so that’s all taken care of. Yeah this whole thing was not a fun experience.
Having said all that, the folks at the WA DOR were super helpful. I mean, I had some really basic questions and both representatives that I spoke to on separate occasions were calm and explained everything to me. I really appreciated that.
I finally got around to submitting the paperwork to open a self-employed 401k account. It’s a great benefit available to self-employed individuals. I’d be able to contribute to it as an employee of my business, as well as make employer contributions. That’s rad! I am looking forward to squirreling away some funds into my savings.
I am at different stages of talks with all of my clients for 2023 commitments and understanding what their roadmap looks like. It’s been great having forward-looking conversations. As the end of the year is fast approaching, I’ve wanted to understand where my clients are in terms of their budgets, goals for next year.
I also got a referral from another ex-Pulumian! The client was looking for expertise in implementing Pulumi. Could this have been any better of a fit honestly? I am super thankful to have been introduced to this team. I am hoping to count them as my customers sometime soon. I met one of the co-founders for the company and got to walk through Pulumi code. Speaking of potential new clients, a different Seattle startup found me through my GitHub profile! I was a bit surprised but I guess my business website isn’t highly visible on Google or other search engines. They stated that they searched on Google for consulting companies and eventually found me through my GitHub profile. Well, I am glad that I keep my GitHub profile up-to-date! Till now all of my clients have been through word-of-mouth referrals. I haven’t really leaned-in on SEO but it’s great to see a new lead come through organically. It’s a great feeling.
On the other hand, in a not-so-great turn of events a client that I had prospected on my own through Pulumi’s Community Slack, gave me the news that his company was letting him go. This came literally the day we were supposed to meet to create plans for training his team on Pulumi as well as do some implementation work in 2023. It was also a perfect opportunity for me. It was certainly a good reminder of the tough times some companies are going through right now and how contracts can vanish in an instant. This is also why I strive to diversify the clients I work with as well as why I am trying to create passive sources of income. Services work will be a huge contributor to my monthly revenue in the beginning but I hope to flip that some day.
This past week I have been knee-deep in service agreements and SOWs. I was putting together an SOW for the client I mentioned earlier ☝️. I use Google Workspaces for my business so everything I do is in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets the whole thing. I like using Google Docs but I really wish they would just add e-signatures as a feature for everyone. I don’t like the idea of using yet another service just to manage e-signatures. Honestly, I also don’t want to pay for yet another service that I would barely use. I did come across Sign documents on Google Docs with e-signature and submitted the beta access request form. Hopefully, I get selected. Looking at the feature, it’s exactly what I want.
I spent some time thinking about the conversations I was having with teams about Pulumi and why they should start using a modern infrastructure tool as early as possible. So I took a look at the Pulumi area of my site and made a few tweaks to the messaging based on that. I also realized that while I linked the Pulumi desktop app’s site from Cloudy Sky Software’s website, I didn’t really talk about it much. So I fixed that as well.
I will be on PTO start from mid-October as I travel a bit. I will also be working remotely, away from home in November. I am really looking forward to taking time off in October to be honest. I have been constantly thinking about the business, staying alert, looking for new clients and doing all the things I need to do to make sure I don’t get in trouble with the DOR. It’s a bit exhausting to keep thinking about it all the time. I am enjoying the various aspects of running my own business but man is it too much sometimes. Especially, when someone pushes a commit that deletes my GH workflow without a code review. What?! Why!?