Congratulations Lovely!! You’ve decided to take the leap and turn your passion into your job and start your photography business, but what the heck do you do now to make it all official?? I can remember being in your shoes and everything felt so daunting and overwhelming that I didn’t know where to begin. When I started my business in 2010 I felt very alone. At the time there were no Facebook business pages, no friendly Facebook photography groups in which to ask questions, and not really many people sharing online about the business side of things at all. I fumbled through and eventually pieced together answers from different sources and navigated my way, but I want to save you some of the time and stress, so here is a quick and simple guide to get you started…
register with HMRC
HMRC suggests that you should register with them as soon as you become self-employed. It’s not as scary as it sounds and it’s super easy to register online, make sure you check this off your list first because if you don’t it can result in a fine and you don’t want to start things off on the wrong foot with the tax man! Most small businesses will first register as a “Sole Trader”, and you can find out more about that here.
Open a bank account for your business
A dedicated account for all your business transactions is a must. It doesn’t have to be a “Business” bank account that has monthly charges and fees, just a regular old current account will do, but make sure you keep this just for your business expenses and incoming payments so that everything is in one place and easy to keep track of. Trust me, when it comes to sorting your end of year finances and tax return this makes life so much easier and you will thank me! I bank with Nationwide because they have a branch in pretty much most towns & villages across the country making it easy to pop in and speak to someone face to face, they are always friendly and their online banking facility is ace.
Find a good accounting software
There are plenty of them out there to choose from, some free and some paid for. I personally use Wave because it’s free, easy to use, has a tonne of great features and also gives me the option of accepting credit card payments if I want. I invoice my clients through it, and can see when they have viewed their invoices, whats overdue, send payment reminders and receipts and it also has a handy iPhone app so I can do all of this on the go too.
Hire an accountant
I found a great local accountant who specialises in working with small independent businesses. Most accountancy firms will offer a free introductory chat to get to know your business and answer any questions you may have. I decided to do all my bookkeeping myself and my accountant calculates, submits and files my self assessment tax return for me at the end of each year. Prices will vary depending on how much your accountant does for you, but expect to pay approximately £300 – £600 for this every year. I know lots of photographers who calculate and submit their own tax return, but math has never been a strength of mine and quite frankly I would worry that I am not doing it right, so I prefer having the peace of mind in knowing that my account has it all covered!
You need to make sure that you are not only insuring your equipment, but also covering yourself and your clients should anything go wrong. I have insurance which covers my camera gear, and also public liability & public indemnity insurance. Do your research and get 3-4 quotes from different companies before deciding which is best for your and your business.
There are so many more things I could add to this list, but lets take it a few steps at a time and start with the basics of getting your business up and running first. Once you have checked these essential tasks off your list, your business will become “official” and you can crack on with the exciting job of finding and booking your dream clients…lot’s more on that to come!! I have created a FREE ebook just for you with lots of tips on how to market your business for free, so click here to grab it now!
If you want more business advice you can find out more about my mentoring for photographers here.