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WEDDING AND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER BASED IN GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN 

KARA HANES

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Episode 011: Business Changes For 2023

 So I want others to gain the knowledge of things I wish I knew ahead of time. As I’ve learned them, I’ve decided to make some changes and work towards gaining more of a profit in 2023 for my business. If you are turning in, you can learn some valuable information from my experiences, so brew that cup of coffee.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode where I’m sharing my deepest, darkest mistakes. I am now correcting. Welcome to episode number 11. Business changes I’m making for 2023. You are listening to the Cameras and Coffee podcast with Kara Haynes, a light and airy conversation about everyday life so you can listen and learn from entrepreneurs.

Here’s your host, photographer, educator, and mentor, Kara Haynes. This episode is brought to you by Cloudspot, the exact platform I use to showcase and organize my client images. They’ve recently released Clouds Spot Studio where you can now send and organize your contracts, questionnaires, and invoices in addition to your gallery.

Receive 20% off your subscription by using my affiliate link, b i t.ly/cameras and coffee cloud spot. You are here. Welcome to. Episode 11. And if you have been on this journey with me, I just wanna say thank you. Um, this has been an interesting experience, this podcast. And so I just wanna thank you for being here today.

And before we get into this episode, I wanna preface that I’m no way a legal expert or I don’t know the correct knowledge for accounting. So when I, um, decided to. over more of my bookkeeping in my business this year. I wanted to create a much better business strategy. So today I wanna share with you all about what I’m doing in changing for 2023 as far as taxes, organization, accounting, all the things, and I’m spending time updating them each year.

And I just wanted to share with you in case maybe you’ve never thought about it before, or maybe just to validate. What you’re doing in your business today, so let’s dive on in. So last year, one of the things that I decided to do in my business was to hire a bookkeeper because I didn’t know what I was doing.

I was trying to build up my business more, and so it made me nervous to do that and be more on. Organizational side of that and trying to do that every month. And as I was learning, I was spending a lot of money on just my bookkeeper, and she was amazing to say the least. Um, And she still is amazing. We still stay in contact and actually I’ve done photos for her as well.

I just wanted to say that I needed to make some business changes, which is why we have this episode. I was realizing the money I was spending in that probably is worth my time to take out of my day to reconcile my books, so I decided that was one thing I was gonna do. So, When I say that I’m doing this on my own, and some of you might be like, mm, yeah, that’s not for me.

I don’t wanna do that. More power to you. Bookkeepers are amazing people and mine was very knowledgeable and I’m very grateful for her in the things that she has done and is still continuing to do, even though I’m not using her services anymore. But yeah, this is something I wanted to change for this year because I needed to save some pennies.

So as we go in this, I’m gonna start out talking about QuickBooks, and that is something I’ve added to my business. I am running on my own. Now. When I took that over, I took it over at the end of January of this year, 2023, and I went all through January to make sure I was doing everything right and something I really wanted to make sure I was more on top of that I wasn’t last year, which happened, forbid an audit to happen was keeping my receipts and.

Keeping record of them digitally. So that’s something I’m changing. And what I do right now is I have a folder on my external hard drive, which is also backed up. I’m gonna talk about a program I use for that later. I have each month in my external hard drive, and I either save my receipts that I receive digitally or I take a picture and upload ’em in there, and I mark them with the date and what they are.

And if I have more than one, then. add 1, 2, 3, 4, whatever. So I save those in there, which also helps when I’m trying to figure out what that expense was when I’m going back into QuickBooks and some people like the option of having Dropbox. I don’t have Dropbox, but when you have it on your phone, you can just.

Snap a picture and add it to Dropbox and you can access it on the go. You can access it on your computer. There’s also the option to take pictures in QuickBooks and update your receipts, but I haven’t found that to be effective and it makes it more complicated. So I’ve decided to do it this way. So if you’re listening and you’re like, um, that’s just one more step, Kara, you don’t need to be doing that is why I do it this way.

When I reconcile my books at the end of the month, I’m not spending only one day at the end of the month going through all of my purchases, expenses, income and all that. I actually do that once a week, but at the end of the month, I match up my bank statements and then reconcile my books so that my CPA can then look at that.

So that brings me to my next point is I hired a CPA to do my. , this has been great because then I can ask them any questions that I have regarding what Michigan tax law says, because honestly, like ignorance is not, it’s not an excuse. So I hired a CPA and I also had them set up my sales tax because honestly, I have a really hard time comprehending the legal.

jargon of the irs, and so I didn’t know what I was doing and so I just asked them, can you set that up and help me pay that every year before the end of February when it’s due? And so that is something that they’re helping me with. Some people like to do that on their own. More power to you. If you understand the websites and how to do that, then kudos to you.

Maybe someday I will. this year is not that year. . Um, something else I changed, I started doing in September last year. I had done it in the past, but then remembered like, oh, I probably should do this. And so then I had to go back and figure things out. But I downloaded the app, my iq, I started recording all of my mileage.

and I realized I could write off a ton of mileage. Now it doesn’t mean you get all that money back, but it does mean that it’s a tax write off. So I went through and went through the whole year and trying to figure that out. But then the hard part is going back cuz I don’t realize like the little stops in between that I did.

And I would, I mean, I’ve done weddings where I’ve traveled from Michigan to Chicago, so, um, to Illinois. And those trips were several hours and sometimes I would have to pull off and get fuel or something like that, and so those mileages that were recorded can now be submitted. Eventually, I’ll probably move to the QuickBooks version, but I had paid for my IQ through the year, so I will be continuing that for right now.

Next is I wanted to start paying myself more. I. Realized I did not pay myself very much. And it’s funny, I have a group of friends that we talk on the regular and we text each other . And when I said I paid myself only this last year for real, and one of my friends said, that’s it, I’m gonna go apply for McDonald’s right now just because.

Just interesting to think like even so the income you’re bringing in in your business does not mean that that’s how much you’re personally bringing in from each sale. That was something I decided is I’m gonna increase that because with the amount of work that I’m bringing in, I do need to make a profit off of my business.

And last year I realized it was all about building my business up, but this year it’s definitely about making some money to support my family. And so that is something I’m changing right now. I only pay myself about 20% from each sale. . Maybe kinda low right now, but Right. But I do have some things that I need to pay off in my business, and so that is why I’m starting that.

Maybe that’ll increase over the year. We’ll see. But who knows. I’m also really working on the finances because last year it was all about like making sure I can make expenses each month. This year I’m definitely buckling down and looking at things. I decided for my business banking that I was going to have three separate accounts, and I’m gonna explain what they are and why.

So obviously I have my regular checking account, and that’s my operational account. So that’s where all of my payments to things that I use for my business come out of. Um, and honestly, that’s where the income comes in. Then I have my business savings, which some people have, some people don’t, but I decided I’m gonna have business savings because heaven forbid anything happened.

Where something out of the ordinary comes up, I need to have savings. And I had that all last year. So my goal is to keep adding to that so that I have backup funds, especially in the slower months when I realize I’m not bringing in. A whole lot of income. Then I have something to make my payments or things out of that need paid that I might not have thought of.

But the next thing that I added was another checking account. So I have two checking accounts and one savings account. And this checking account is strictly for taxes. So each time I bring in money from a. I then take money out of that and pour it into that taxes account because this year I will be filing quarterly taxes just to be safe so that I’m not having to do one big lump sum at the end of the year.

Last year, my accountant mentioned that I didn’t really need to, but this year I’ve decided I’m gonna do that. . I don’t want to have like one big lump sum at the end of the year. I’d rather be ahead of this. So I opened a business checking account for taxes. And honestly, I’m pouring in 35% from every sale into there, which some people might think is high, but it’s also for paying my CPA and all the things.

And the reason I didn’t do a savings account for that is because I wanted the funds to come directly out of that. And the only thing that comes out of that, Money. So anything for the IRS comes out of that. The next thing, um, that I have been doing is updating things in my business that are not finances.

Some of the things that I’ve been doing is updating my website, and this is something that photographers should consider every year, and some of these things are updating your images, so bringing in the things that you want from. session that you thought was great. And honestly, if you start right now, every time you have a session or every time you have a wedding or whatever you photograph and you just keep one folder where you take the best of the best of those images that you loved and dump ’em in that folder, it’ll make this process so much quicker.

And that is something I am changing. Um, instead of just going through everything at the end of the year, beginning of the new. . Another thing is, is I’m updating my headshots on my website. Obviously, I change every year, and so that should too, and so I’m going through and updating those. I’m updating my pricing because obviously there’s inflation and I take a look back on everything and how much I made from the year before and how much I need to make expenses for my business, pay for equipment, all those things, and so then my pricing has to reflect that, so I update.

I also update my branding, so I decided to make a little tweak to my branding. I updated some logos and things like that, and so I’m going through my website and making sure all that’s updated, all of my platforms that I use on that, all the things. Another thing I’ve been trying to do is update the seo, so the search engine optimization on my website, and this is something everyone should do.

I firmly believe that seo. A way better use of your time than trying to do things on social media, honestly, because most people are searching things on Google, on Pinterest, whatever, to find your business. I don’t think a lot of people are searching on social media for these things. I mean, they’ll ask for recommendations, but honestly, for me, the SEO is something that I am working on.

They’ve actually been trying out a website called Uber. And on there you can search up to three competitor websites a day and you can kinda see what keywords are working for them. You can also take an inventory of your own website and see where you’re ranking high, and you can even increase those rankings.

So I looked up mine the other day and found one and found ways to increase that and add keywords or things to. Item on my website and make it better. So that’s something I’m doing. Um, I don’t pay for that right now. That is something I use free and you can use a free version. So just so you know, that is an option.

I don’t know about you, but I usually get really nervous that something might happen in my business and. , maybe I think about it more than I should , but I’ve decided to add in a cloud space so that I could save anything for my external hard drive. And so I started using the program called Back Blaze, and this will update on its own on the backend of my computer.

And so if anything were to happen or anything crash, I can go into that cloud and retrieve it. Lastly, I am. Checking over all of the projection for this year by going back and looking at last year and seeing where my influx of income came in, what I was doing, kind of reviewing and seeing what I did right, what I would wanna change for this next year.

And just kind of observe that’s something that we should all be doing and kind of checking out to see what worked, what didn’t work, so that we can make the next year better. And then seeing where I need to make changes financially and. What I shouldn’t be doing to see what is a better use of my time.

So that is a major thing that I need to reflect on is my time. And so that is a major part of my workflow this year is checking out what is a good use of it. So as we wrap up this episode about the business changes I’m making for 2023, I really hope that you will take this information and somehow it will help benefit you and your business in the future.

And if you have any other questions or wanna continue this conversation, join us on our cameras and coffee podcast insiders. You can find that in the show notes on where to join that private Facebook group. Until next time. Cheers, friends. Thanks for listening to the Cameras and Coffee podcast. Check out the show notes for this episode at karahanesphotography.com/podcast

That’s karahanesphotography.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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welcome to my blog

I'm Kara, West Michigan Photographer, Wife, Mom of two kids and our sweet Maltipoo. I hope you stay a while or reach out to chat!

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