Let's Start a Business Relationship - The Legal and Safe Way

Did that sound dirty? Because it wasn’t supposed to.

I’m purely talking about what we need paperwork wise in order for one business person to work with another business person, legally and safely.

Note: I would like to state that any advice given in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only and should not take the place of hiring an attorney or tax professional. I am not a legal or tax professional. And I am a resident of the state of Washington. Be sure to check in with your own local and state laws and tax obligations on what you're required to have!

Touching briefly on contract law in the United States, any person has the freedom to enter into any written agreement with another. (As long as it doesn’t violate public policy.)

This really gives you A LOT of freedom to do almost anything you want to.

If you want to enter into a contract that trades your photography services for a pizza, you can actually do that.

Did that scare you? If it did than it’s probably a good idea to start to familiarize yourself with contracts, legalities and all that not-so fun business know-how.

What’s the bare minimum when it comes to hiring/working with someone (not unlike myself) for photographic services? And for me that’s in exchange for money, as much as I’d like to trade for a pizza, my landlord probably doesn’t take pizza as a form of currency - especially if I eat it.

To start off with, you need some type of a written agreement.

This lays out all the terms of the business exchange that is taking place.

It will save both parties a lot of time and stress if it ever comes down to a dispute.

This written agreement a.k.a. a service agreement, should cover things such as: the services being provided, prices and fees, and any kind of policies.

This also applies when hiring someone on to work for your company or if you’re asked to go work for one. That type of written agreement is more known as an employment agreement or independent contractor agreement.

Any contractor that is paid over $600 (throughout the entirety of the business relationship for that year) is required to fill out a W-9 - which you can find on the IRS website

When tax season rolls around, you should be expecting a 1099 form from the company that’s paying you. (Again, only if you made over $600 from them for the year. Otherwise as far as I know, they’re not obligated to send you one.)

Check out this awesome image set I came across on Tumblr which appears to be from the tv show Malcolm in the Middle.


Hopefully that made you feel a little bit better about why it’s crucial for your business to get things in writing.

Paperwork may seem daunting or just plain annoying but it’ll protect you in the long run! The last thing anyone wants to deal with is an unhappy client or legal dispute.

Did this help bring some clarity on the basics to a business relationship?

If you know someone that may really need this information then share this article! (Click that ‘Share’ button on the bottom of this post!)

Until next time,

Anne "the small business professional" Cho