Book review: Working For Yourself

Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Consultants
by Stephen Fishman J.D.

This book is a great resource for people who are thinking about or have started working for themselves. It starts with the basics: the pros & cons of working for oneself, choosing a legal form for your business, creating a business name & protecting it, and whether or not to work from home. I appreciated going through these topics before jumping into the legal and financial nitty-gritty promised in the book’s subtitle.

I’ve always been impressed by Nolo, finding their books helpful, but realistic in terms of setting readers’ expectations. It’s written in a neutral, professional tone. I’m not particularly versed in legal subtleties, and cannot therefore verify the accuracy of everything that Fishman writes. But that’s sort of the point. This book is a starting point: the information it gives will often be sufficient, and when it isn’t, it will at least help you to be an informed customer when you need to seek out professional help.

As others have noted, it’s a very well organized and comprehensive book. Comprehensive up to a point, as the book can’t cover everything. For more in-depth material than this book can offer, Fishman provides regular citations to other books and resources (a collected ‘further reading’ section would have been a time-saver, but at least the information is still available). The final chapter is entitled “Help Beyond This Book,” and covers when and how to contact lawyers, tax pros and others and find relevant information online (the book is in its 8th edition, and I have to wonder why the listing of usenet groups is still there, but that’s a minor quibble). Appendices provide sample forms and legal agreements, and there is an index.

Highly recommended

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