Law Basics for Artists

Getting Started

Do you have an idea or skill that you want to turn into a business? Starting a small business isn’t difficult. All it takes are the right tools, some planning, and a little time. 

  1. Choose a business name.  It is hard to start marketing, create a website or media presence, or even introduce yourself without a business name.
  2. Get a professional domain name and email address. “” is NOT professional. Purchasing a domain name and business email address is easy and affordable through Google Domains.
  3. Develop a logo or brand. Choosing designs and colors unique to you will help your business stand out and be remembered by potential clients.
  4. Get business cards.  Any tangible memento of your business will suffice, whether it is a card or photo or a brochure. Develop a logo or brand to uniquely identify you.
  5. Talk to an attorney and an accountant. Get an idea of the legal and financial or tax hurdles you need to plan for in order to keep your business legally safe, legally compliant, and fiscally responsible to the government. This small investment now will save you time and money year after year.
  6. Network with your industry. Find businesses and individuals like you and meet them. You can learn a lot about your business from others in your business.
  7. Develop a budget. Research and develop a budget that has real numbers. What are the expected costs of doing business? What does it cost to purchase or lease equipment? Will you have travel expenses? Advertising expenses? Will you have to purchase new materials each month?
  8. Find and use financial software. There are many free options available for tracking your income and expenses. Google Sheets is a free spreadsheet program. Mint is a free online income and expense tracking program from the makers of Quickbooks.
  9. Separate your personal and business finances.  This protects the personal from the business and vice-versa, and helps you have a more accurate understanding of your cash flow.
  10. Develop a business plan. What is your business starting point? What do you want accomplish in your first year? How are you going to get there?
  11. Research, Research, Research. Look around your industry, and identify both the conventional players and the unconventional players. What makes them a success? What do you think they are doing right (or wrong)? Always be on the lookout for information about your industry or even related to your industry to keep track of trends, changes, or challenges.

    The Small Business Toolbox

    Disclaimer: While the author of these documents is an attorney, she is not YOUR attorney.  Any materials presented on this website are yours to use, but at your own risk. The author recommends that you (a) review any forms carefully and modify them to suit your particular circumstances and (b) have your attorney review the materials before implementation to be sure that they are legally appropriate for your organization.

    Sample Cease and Desist Letter

    Sample Commercial Copyright License Agreement

    Sample Copyright License Agreement

    Sample Work-For-Hire Agreement

    Sample Model Release

    Further Reading

    The world of small business gets more complex each year. Below are some resources you can review as a starting point for thinking about your small business.