Shiny things are everywhere we look. Newer cars, bigger houses, Tori Burch wedges, boats, Kelly Moore bags, jewelry from Tiffany’s, hair extensions, iPads, and my personal favorite: Lululemon workout clothes. Current statistics say that the average American household credit card debt is $8,000.00 – and that doesn’t even count mortgages, car payments, student loans or personal loans! In our household, we have made a concerted effort to be free from any debt – except our mortgage – but it certainly hasn’t been easy!
Owning a business isn’t any different than controlling your personal finances except that you might find it even easier to spend money – after all, it’s a business deduction right?! Here are some easy ways you can get started in your business without digging yourself a money pit right off the bat.
1. Wait for Sales!
Make a list of things you’d really, really like to have, and then BE PATIENT! Follow vendors on Facebook, and sign up for mailing lists to be kept in the loop when deals are happening. My favorite site is Photo Deal Café. Vendors steeply cut prices in exchange for volume sales which benefits you! Just be careful that you don’t just buy something just because it’s on sale. My husband always says “A $10 shirt that you never wear is a bigger waste of money than a $100 pair of shoes you wear every day!”
2. Shop Garage Sales, Consignment Stores & Thrift Shops
Let’s not be snobby here. You can find some fantastic, inexpensive props by swallowing a little pride. Washing machines, a little paint or some TLC can make even the most loved items into a unique, one-of-a-kind addition to your collection!
3. Take Advantage of Free!
Improve your skills by watching FREE webinars on Pretty Presets or other sites that offer tutorials at no cost to you. It might require a little extra pre-planning, but it’s worth it!
4. Know When to Pay for Convenience and When not to
I love buying onions at the grocery store that are already chopped, because onions make me cry! But guess what, they cost extra! Take into consideration your time and cost of materials if you want to do something yourself. For example, I recently decided that it would be a good idea to build my own coffee table (thanks a lot Pinterest!). Eight hours and $150 of materials later, I realized I wanted my 8 hours back and a coffee table that someone else made! Yes, my coffee table is very unique and functional, but in this case, it was not worth all my time, and really didn’t save me a whole lot of money in the long run! Before you buy something, think about the time, energy and cost involved if you made it yourself, or went to a local store instead of ordering online. Sometimes ordering online is much more efficient instead of running around town, but sometimes you pay a “convenience fee” just like my onions! Be smart!
5. Just Say YES to Accounting!
I know numbers give some of you hives, but I CAN NOT STRESS how IMPORTANT it is to know where your money is going – not to mention be prepared for taxes. If you are overwhelmed by QuickBooks, start off with this simple spreadsheet designed specifically for photographers over at Photographer Depot.
Finally, make goals for the future. If you really, really want a new lens, print off a picture, hang it on your wall and make a goal like “I will allow myself to buy this once I am bringing in $3,000 of income a month for at least 3 months in a row” or something like that. It will be motivation, and so much more rewarding than if you just charge it! You CAN build your business without debt. It just takes a little more work.
Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler. Visit her on Facebook!