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Don’t fear the Monster

One reader quibbles with our Outfitter columnist about independent contractor work, while another lavishes praise on his work. And, in between are some thoughts about how to stop spending money and start making it.

I read James Mathewson’s article “The Monster outside my window” with great interest. But this statement caught my attention: “Don’t start your own business–doing so prevents you from getting unemployment assistance no matter how much or how little work your business generates.”

First point: 1099/independent contractors/consultants are in fact considered a business by the IRS and probably by most state income tax boards and unemployment insurance boards, and are subject to all the laws concerning taxation (income and sales), consumer laws, contract laws, business expense reporting, and so forth as it does for any other business. The government says there are only two ways to earn a living: as an employee or as business.

Nothing else in between. It’s a myth that just because a company is not incorporated or doesn’t have employees that it is not a “real” company. It is. I would suggest checking with your state UI board before assuming anything about your benefits while working as a 1099 contractor.

Second point: The statement, being his only reference to opening one’s own business, seems to indicate that the termination of unemployment benefits should be the only deciding factor involved in the decision. However, there are many reasons why one might or might not make that decision. But to so quickly and swiftly rule it out on the basis of a single issue is poignantly negative.

His article seems to perpetuate the idea that finding full-time employment is the only way to go with no other options. I took the plunge last year and opened a business, knowing it would be tough. And even though I’m still struggling, it is far better than watching the bank account dry up while spending hours on end searching for jobs on Monster.com. — Jeff Bales, Bales & Associates, [email protected]

All the things you spoke about in “Starting Right” are important to a small business, but they are all expenses! You never once mentioned the most important aspect of any business: income generators.

All the legal, accounting, and tax help is useless if you don’t have clients. I was in the exact same position 13 years ago, it took me two years to get a year-round accountant–and I still don’t have a lawyer. My energy was spent getting clients and getting paid.

My point is, your article should have answered how to go about getting paying customers and then worry about the tax and legal stuff. You told the inquiring reader how to spend money, not make it.

My advice to him: Target the market that still has 12:00 flashing on their VCRs, they are getting computers and will need someone to setup their AOL so they can e-mail the grandchildren. — Tom King, [email protected]

Regarding “Windows video editing at its best” I’m hard-pressed to find a tool such as Premiere Pro that is powerful enough for corporate use and light TV production work and easy enough for the home user.

Home use and TV production/corporate use–these are two markets that just don’t cross. However, I wonder why you did not mention Avid’s XpressDV. IMO, Adobe is constantly two or three years behind the industry in sophistication.

Of course, you could always skip all this tomfoolery and get an Apple with its own pro tools (Final Cut Pro/DVD Studio Pro), and complain briefly about spending $500 more for a 64-bit G5 tower versus a PC. But then again, you won’t be complaining about the lame software that thousands of PC users shell out for, only to buy another lame $300 lame package, and another, and another… –Mark, [email protected]

Thank you for “The Wal-Mart Economy”. I loved reading it, and I am going to have my English class read it today.

I feel as you do about Wal-Mart. What will happen when the prices get to the bottom? Maybe we’ll have prisoners manufacture the goods without pay. Then all we have to do is provide food, a factory, raw materials, and a few guards. Welcome to 1984, folks. — Paul Fasel, [email protected]

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