There’s no avoiding it – the books won’t do themselves. There’s definitely no way to make bookkeeping enjoyable, especially for individuals used to a creative craft like photography.
As a photographer, there are also far more important aspects of your business that constantly demand your attention, so it’s not unsurprising that some photography business owners inadvertently see their books go untouched for long periods of time.
As soon as they’re neglected, however, you run into all sorts of potential trouble that could damage your business and reputation.
So, what does good bookkeeping look like for a photography business? Are there any tricks to get better at staying on top of them?
Why is bookkeeping important?
Let’s begin by asking ourselves why bookkeeping is important for photography businesses.
First, bookkeeping provides the backbone of financial reporting and planning.
Without an accurate record of all of your incomings and outgoings, you could be leaking cash without even realising it. With one, however, you can spot unnecessary expenses far more easily, as well as dangerous trends in your spending that you might want to fix.
Think about your personal expenses. You might check your personal bank statements to spot TV streaming subscriptions you forgot to cancel, or to work out what your monthly cost of food is so you can shore up your finances. It’s the same principle.
With a visual record of all your spending and income, you’ll be in a much more effective position to plan ahead and improve your business with a good plan that is attractive to your investors and shareholders.
This is especially important for project-based businesses like photographic firms, as they need to meet multiple deadlines while keeping track of several transactions and expenses.
That doesn’t even take into account the tax deadlines you might end up missing if you can’t make sense of the huge tangle of receipts you’ll have to sort through, and if you miss a tax deadline, you could face serious financial penalties.
Bookkeeping practices for photography businesses
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you of the need to do your bookkeeping, but what actually makes a good and effective bookkeeping practice?
First, go digital. Bookkeeping traditionally meant dealing with a mountain of paperwork – receipts, invoices, records – which can get messy and frustrating over time.
At Alchemy Accounting, our digital bookkeeping and accounting solves this problem. For instance, we use ReceiptBank to digitally capture receipts and invoices from your suppliers. With everything stored in one digital place, you’ll never lose a file or make a mistake ever again.
Second, stay on top of the books. It sounds obvious, but the last thing you should be doing is completing everything retrospectively. If the average bookkeeping session means you have to trawl through loads of receipts and invoices, imagine what the work being a month overdue might look like.
While you’ll face the disadvantages of unkempt books that we explored earlier, it’ll also take you a serious amount of time to get everything in order again, taking you away from your core business functions – photoshoots, edits, negotiations – that should be your priority.
Should I hire a bookkeeper?
The truth is, however, staying up to date with the books can also significantly eat into the amount of time you have to focus on your core functions.
It’s not unusual to find yourself between the proverbial rock and a hard place: do you sacrifice your oversight over certain aspects of your business, or do you take it easy with the bookkeeping, potentially opening the can of worms we discussed earlier?
There is a third option, however, which is to hire a bookkeeper, whether you put one on payroll or hire a virtual assistant who specialises in bookkeeping.
Bookkeepers are usually dedicated to their craft, often holding awards and qualifications specifically in their vocation, which is another way to demonstrate how bookkeeping isn’t just something you can do in your spare time.
Alternatively, you could liaise with an accountancy firm like us to take over your bookkeeping for you. This is an especially effective way to do bookkeeping, because not only can we take work off your plate, but we will also be able to make more sense of your data from your records than your standard bookkeeper.
We will then be in a perfect position to offer you advice on specific ways you could improve your business’s tax efficiency and business strategy.
Our bookkeeping services are open to clients local to our offices in Preston and Lancashire, and as an online service to businesses across the country. Call us at 01772 965550 or use our contact form to get started today.