Besides PHP, programmers often have a host of other marketable skills such as other programming languages, design skills, or writing skills. The information in this article is not specific to PHP programmers, so please share it with your Java, Objective C, web designer, and other friends!
It is important that if you are going to go into business for yourself in this manor that you do it the right way so it doesn't come back to bite you later. While I am not a tax expert, I can give you some first hand knowledge that you will hopefully find useful. I personal make apps with my partner. While I had been making apps for iOS and he for Android we sort of neglected this process and just kept everything separate. But once he started to move into iOS as well and Apple wanted documentation of our partnership, we were pushed into figuring out some of these things! Fortunately the internet has a wealth of information about starting a business. Another very useful place to consult is the Small Business Administration.
The first thing you must do is determine the legal structure of your business. If you are working with a partner or a group of people, it is important to lay out how this works. Are you a sole proprietor who’s hiring his friend as an employee or are you and your friend equal partners? Not only is it important to know this to determine what legal forms your business will need, it may also be important to establish early on in the relationship in case a conflict arises later.
If you are doing business under a name that isn’t your own, you may need to register a “DBA” which stands for “Doing Business As”, also known as a fictitious name or assumed name. By default your business name is your name, or if you are partners your business name would be the last names of both partners. In my personal case, since we work off the domain name goatella.com and are generally known as “Goatella” we registered a DBA for the name Goatella. We registered this information with our county. In the state of WI where I live, it was a fairly painless process. We printed a form that I found online, signed it in front of a notary, and turned it in with our thirty dollars. This process varies by state, and some don’t even require you to file a DBA. Here is a good link for looking up the specific details of your state, and determining if it’s even required to register a DBA.
The other thing we found rather painless was obtaining a federal tax ID. Since we are a partnership, we needed an ID. Anyone who has employees of any sort also needs a business tax ID. We were able to simply register on the IRS website, and have the the EIN (employer identification number) generated for us in a matter of seconds. Here is a direct link to their website. Register for EIN.
Now, that’s some basics to get you started... but if you are interested in things like business financing, finding money for your small business, or other small business advice a good resources is the small business information site right here on About.com.