Mistakes I Made as a New Business Owner

February 22, 2021

One of the best things I ever did for myself was start my photography business. It gave me a huge sense of pride and legitimacy, has helped boost my confidence and people skills, and of course has helped me work towards financial freedom! But would you believe me if I said I made a TON of mistakes when I first started? I thought the road to wealth and business ownership was straight, but it has many turns and hills! I’m hoping that by sharing my experience I can help other new photographers or small business owners too. I’ve also included a list of programs I use with links at the bottom 🙂 Happy reading new business owners!

Make it legal, seriously.
My Mistake: Not filing or reporting my business for like three years… yikes.
You can file your business as a sole proprietorship or as an LLC, whichever fits your business most. Both are good choices but they each have their own set up and benefits. No matter which you choose you can file in Minnesota here. After you’ve officially filed your business, you should apply for an EIN from the IRS. It is CRUCIAL for your taxes and reporting business income! This can be done on the IRS website here.

Take it to the bank!
My Mistake: Not having a separate business account – aka using personal money I didn’t have for business expenses!
Now that you’re officially legal *whooo!* you can take your filing and EIN to the bank and set up an official business account. To simplify your life, keep solely business expenses on your business card and keep a physical file of all your business receipts (this is in the slim case that you get audited during tax season and need to prove your expenses).

Save 30% for taxes
My mistake: Saving the money but assuming I wont have to pay that much and not having it when I need it.
Wooof, this one got me good y’all. Once you start making money, you have to start setting some aside for taxes. I use Qapital to make mini-accounts for all my spending. It’s connected right to my bank and helps me (the worst with numbers) know how much I have for each category!

Determine your niche.
My Mistake: Accepting every. job. ever. for “experience.”
While all of the above steps are important, I find this one to carry the most weight in the eyes of a consumer. Yes, it’s totally okay to take every job ever if you don’t want to have a niche. But, think of the other small business owners that you know, what is their specialty? For me, it’s couples, weddings, and dogs. For some, it’s motherhood, maternity, and wedding. What is yours and how can you stand out from others?

Miscellaneous Tips

Invest in your education
If you’re local to MN/WI, I recommend Ali Leigh’s Connect Workshop
Don’t compare yourself to others
Even though the internet makes everything look perfect and easy, it’s not. Remember that we all started somewhere.
Have grace
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a six-figure business. Be patient and have grace with yourself. Especially after this pandemic!

My Secrets for Success

These apps have helped me get my life together and help me run a more efficient business. Use any of the links below for some welcome offers!

DubsadoMy client management application. Like Honeybook, but wayyy better! 😉
Qapital – How I manage my finances. I use it to allocate money towards different categories so I’m not overspending! Use code ec8b26s4 to save $$$ on signup
Quickbooks Self-Employed – How I categorize and manage my business transactions and income. My accountant can even access it to make bookkeeping and tax season a breeze.