Accounting Tips + Tools for Small Businesses

my favorite tips and tools to get better at small business accounting…

As a solopreneur, handling my own accounting used to give me nightmares…

Because until recently, I’ve never had the best relationship with money. I mean… I LIKE money, and always want more OF it, but like many other creatives, I just didn’t seem to be born with the “numbers” gene. Talks of accounting and balancing the books would make me break out in a sweat, and doing taxes each year often led to a mini mental breakdown.

But ignoring money matters doesn’t make them go away, and so I promised myself (and my business) that I’d get better.

And slowly but surely, I have.

So here are my top tips + tools for getting better at handling the accounting stuff for your small business, even if you’re not a “numbers” kinda person…

(or scroll to the bottom to get right to the discounts!)

TIP ONE for better business accounting: know EXACTLY where your money goes each month.

I used to live month to month, and would FREAK OUT when it came time to pay bills. This is especially scary if you’re like many small businesses where your income isn’t steady, and you suffer from “slow seasons.” (Ummmm… like the life of a PHOTOGRAPHER, anyone???)

But I discovered one of my favorite online tools called “You Need a Budget” (YNAB, for short), and have been doing a mega-happy-dance ever since!

Here’s why:

  1. I connected all my accounts where transactions occur… checking + savings accounts, PayPal, and even my credit cards.

  2. In the “budget” page, I created categories for how I ACTUALLY spend my money. I could get as DETAILED with this as I wanted, and add/hide categories, too! I put in all my PERSONAL stuff like rent, groceries, specific utilities, recurring stuff like Spotify + Hulu, etc. And I created other categories for all my BUSINESS stuff… like Client Orders, Client Costs, Taxes, and subscriptions like HoneyBook , etc.

  3. Once a week, I’d sit down and sync my YNAB account, to pull in all the new transactions. Then I’d go through and add a specific category to each one!

  4. Doing this consistently for a month gave me an accurate snapshot of where my money was ACTUALLY going!

TIP TWO for better business accounting: create a monthly BUDGET (and stick to it)!

While knowing how you’re ACTUALLY spending your money is the first step to better business accounting, the NEXT step is to create a custom BUDGET for yourself, and get better at actually sticking to it.

Because by seeing WHERE your money is going, you can see where you might be a bit frivolous + overspending… like, I realized I spent waaaaaay too much on eating out each month. And on the business side, I learned I wasn’t setting aside enough money for my taxes, which got REALLY scary when it was time to pay.

So I created a monthly budget, and have now gotten so much BETTER at it that I’m actually able to save for TWO MONTHS ahead of time… squirreling away some funds just in case of a slow season ahead!

Here’s how:

  1. I use YNAB for this part, too… Using my custom categories, I created a monthly budget so I know approximately how much money I need to set aside for each category each month. (Ex: I set aside the money I KNOW I’ll need to pay for recurring things such as rent, utilities, etc., and then I set aside an approximate amount for things like groceries, eating out, fun money, etc. Same thing with the BUSINESS stuff… not only will I set aside money for recurring payments, but I can also set aside money for things like airfare (if I’ve got a business trip coming up), Facebook ads, etc.

  2. Each week I sync YNAB with my accounts and categorize each transaction. Then I can see where I might have overspent, and move money around as necessary to cover overspending or budget for upcoming things. And any INCOMING money (which I categorize as “Client Orders”) is moved into the “To Be Budgeted” category.

  3. The goal is to give EVERY DOLLAR A PURPOSE. So I don’t leave ANYTHING hanging out in the “To Be Budgeted” category. instead, that money is moved to wherever its needed… I start with setting aside 30% of my profits to my “Taxes” category, any necessary funds to “Client Orders” where I KNOW I’ll need to purchase items for them such as prints, albums, etc., and then the rest of the money is added to the other categories as needed.

  4. The GOAL is that, by giving every dollar a purpose, I am much more careful about what I spend, where, and when. And by getting into this healthy monthly routine, I’ve been able to pay my bills without wondering WHERE the money is coming from that month… and start saving for future months, too!

TIP THREE for better business accounting: HAND IT OFF to a professional!

I realize that, as a small business owner or solopreneur, you wear MANY hats. And you have to try to keep your business costs to a minimum.

However… in some areas, it’s WORTH THE MONEY to pay someone ELSE to handle things for you.

I meeeean, if you’re running a small business… even as a solopreneur… you’re not actually EXPECTED to do everything yourself. And if you’re spending hours + hours each month handling your accounting/bookkeeping stuff, what’s it actually COSTING you? Those are hours that you could be spend working on client stuff instead (where you’re actually getting PAID).

Instead, put your time where your talents lie, and outsource the rest. (Pssst… business accounting costs can be a tax write-off, too… so it’s TOTALLY a win-win situation!

My recommended tool to hand off your small business accounting: Bench.co.

Because Bench is a company of ACTUAL bookkeepers, not just an online system. And you’re assigned someone to actually help you along the way.

Your Bench bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. And if you’ve got questions, they respond within one business day.

Then they give you monthly financial statements and expense overviews to keep you in control of your money.

And come tax time, you’ll receive a Year End Financial Package that has all the info you need to file your taxes. They’ll work directly with your CPA, or set you up with one they trust, to make sure your taxes are filed painlessly and on time.

(How’s THAT for breathing a deep sigh of relief????)

And it gets BETTER… because as an affiliate, I’ve got a special discount code for you to use!

Just CLICK HERE to start your free trial at Bench.co, and get 20% OFF the first 6 months when you sign up!

Wanna give my favorite small business accounting tools a try for yourself?

Click below to start your free trials:

How you know it's time to update your professional headshot... | Bend, Oregon

Your brand is growing, and business is soaring. You’re on Cloud 9 until you hear these words from your marketing person, web guru, or the PR person in charge of your next published article or speaking engagement:

“We’d like to include your professional headshot; please send it our way.”

And then… panic.

Because (a) you’re barely recognizable from the last round of professional photos that were taken over 5 years ago, and (b) you cringe at the thought of sending them the current Facebook profile pic of you wearing snow goggles and holding a cold brew.

Yikes! Now what?

Keep reading… because if you’re anywhere near Bend, Oregon… help is on the way!

The Suitcase Studio offers professional headshots in Bend, Oregon
The Suitcase Studio offers on-location professional headshots in Bend, Oregon.

How to know it’s time to UPDATE your professional headshot:

If you’re a professional (regardless of whether you’re in a corporate or creative field), you NEED a good headshot that’s representative of YOU.

Here’s when you know it’s time to UPDATE your headshot:

  • Your current headshot is over 3 years old. Just like the online dating world… you know that feeling you get when you see someone’s photo, then see THEM in real life, and think, “WOW… they look nothing alike?!” Yeah, let’s avoid that situation by making sure that your current headshot IS actually current, and a good representation of what you actually look like in real life.

  • Your current headshot is cropped from an image of a group of people. We’ve all been there. Someone snaps a group photo and you think… “WOW… that’s a GREAT shot of me.” The problem is that you’re not fooling anyone… we can all TELL that there were originally others in the photo. Think of it this way… you are meant to be showcased as a SOLO ARTIST, not trying to get attention as part of the backup band.

  • Your current headshot is fuzzy or pixelated. This often happens as a result of the above, or if you are using an image that is simply too small, or if you downloaded an image from Facebook. Remember, your headshot is representative of YOU, and if your current headshot is fuzzy/pixelated, it could come across as lazy or that you just don’t care… which doesn’t translate well to your business/brand if you’re trying to come across as professional and detail-oriented.

  • Your current headshot barely even shows your face. If you’re wearing sunglasses, a hat, goggles, scarf, or anything else like this that covers up most of your face… you’re defeating the purpose of even having a headshot. Don’t get me wrong… those fun, lifestyle shots definitely have a place in your business, but using one of those photos as your main headshot simply doesn’t work, as the point is to show your FACE so that you become instantly recognizable.

  • Your current headshot is a selfie. Heads up… selfies do NOT provide the most flattering angles, so be very aware of this. And know that we can also TELL it’s a selfie.

Update your professional headshot with The Suitcase Studio in Bend, Oregon
Whether you prefer a classic background or a natural one, The Suitcase Studio makes updating your professional headshot in Bend, Oregon a snap!

In a nutshell… if you’re using a non-professional picture as your headshot, it’s time to step in front of the camera to get something NEW.

WHY? Because…

when you’re investing in yourself and your brand, it’s easier for potential clients to invest in you + your services, too!

So… are you ready to update that professional headshot of yours? Check out my stress-free photography services for businesses + brands, and let’s get started!

Business + Branding Photos that tell a STORY | Redmond, Oregon

Did you know that one of my FAAAAAAVORITE things to photograph is behind-the-scenes pics for small businesses + brands???


Because there's so much HEART that goes into everything they do, which is absolutely impossible to convey through stock photos and a boring headshot.

Each business + brand has a STORY, and I like to tell it.

Case in point:
Meet David from Casa Repairs (based in Redmond, OR).

Specializing in home repairs and remodeling, David wanted to get some photos to SHOW clients what he does... instead of the typical "here I am standing in front of my work truck" as is most commonly seen in his industry.

So we borrowed a family friend's house and staged a few scenes to photograph what he specializes in: drywall repair and designer wall texturing, custom flooring, painting services, carpentry, and more.

And then we dug even deeper to get some photos to show off what makes HIM different from others out there... traveling with a stand-up saw and is able to cut pieces down to size immediately and on-site, is CLEAN and goes to great lengths to take care of the home he's working in, and being incredibly friendly and easy to work with!

Like I said before... there's no WAY you're gonna be able to convey all THAT through a basic headshot.

But through this lifestyle photo session, you’re actually able to SEE what he does, and connect with David and his business in a way that NO stock photo could ever do.

business and branding photography in bend oregon and surrounding areas

So… Wanna tell YOUR business + branding story better in 2019???

Get in touch for a Storybranding Photo Session of your own!

(Just fill out the form below to get started!)

New photos for your Bend business

Today's #tiptuesday goes out to my small businesses + solopreneurs out there...

Your business is so much MORE than just the finished product or service you provide.

And THAT'S what you need to show people.

The Suitcase Studio offers behind the scenes photos for businesses in Bend, Oregon

For example, let's take Dr. Kelley Mingus (pictured above), who is a local dentist here in Bend. (And who is also in the middle of a rebrand + wanted some new photos to match.)

Now, while most of us might not get EXCITED about going to the dentist, when we DO select a dentist, we want to be as comfortable + confident as possible, right???

So, instead of simply snapping pictures of him, his space, tools, and teeth (like many other photographers might do), we dug a bit DEEPER into what makes HIM DIFFERENT.

Like... initial consultations that take place OUT of a dental chair, comfortable waiting rooms with free beverages and WINE from the local Naked Winery for clients 21+, tools and technology that others in the field don't have (providing a less invasive /more comfortable experience with even better results), and PERSONABLE interactions every step of the way!

And we got pics of all THAT stuff.

The Suitcase Studio - photos of what makes a Bend business different
The Suitcase Studio - business photos showing off technology offered by dentist Kelley Mingus
The Suitcase Studio - photo showing that dentist Dr. Kelley Mingus offers local Naked Winery wines to 21+ clients, to help relax and offer a more comfortable experience

Because it's not just about the final result (a great smile), but also about everything that happens along the way.

Show off a bit of your process, your personality, and what makes you different, and you'll better connect with your desired clients.

Interested in learning more about my process? Click here to see more.

Why I use HONEYBOOK as my CRM (and a 50% discount code off your subscription)

(Disclaimer... I AM an affiliate of Honeybook.)

Being a solopreneur is NOT easy... especially when it comes to all the BUSINESS-y side of all that I do. You know how it is... you go into photography because you freakin LOVE it, but once it becomes an actual BUSINESS, clicking the camera is a teeny-tiny fraction of what you actually spend time doing.

But even with all that other stuff that goes into running a business, I am super PROUD to say that providing a stress-free client experience is one of the things I've come to be known for. 

And I have to admit, a huge part of my "secret" is that I have Honeybook to keep me on track with it all.

I'm not new to using CRM's (Client Relationship Mangement) or CMS's (Client Management Software. In fact, I was with a different company for about 5 years, and have tested out a few others in the meantime, too. But my eyes kept wandering back to Honeybook. They simply seemed to have it all... organization, integrations into my calendar and other important places, reminders, a custom client pipeline, easy emailing, digital contracts and invoicing... and it's PRETTY, too!

So I made the switch to using Honeybook as my client management software about 6 months ago, and haven't looked back!

There are sooooo many awesome things about Honeybook... including some features I haven't even delved into yet. But for now, here is a rundown of a few of my favorites:

01: Capturing Leads

Honeybook offers the option to create MULTIPLE custom contact forms, making it SUPER easy to onboard new leads and turn them into clients. I can quickly create a new form for where I want it to go on my website... meaning that I can ask SPECIFIC questions based on the type of client I'm talking to, whether it's an inquiry for business/personal branding photos, a FAMILY photo session, etc.

Here's what the form builder looks like in Honeybook:

And here's how that form actually looks on my site: 

02: A Custom Client Pipeline

When someone contacts me via one of my contact forms, they automatically get uploaded to Honeybook as an "Inquiry," and I receive an email notification. I can also easily add a new client or project to Honeybook, and add them to whatever stage of the pipeline I want, too... whether that's an inquiry, I'm sending out a new invoice, or we're already jumping into the planning stages.  

Honeybook refers to this as the "Pipeline," and it can be configured into whatever steps/sections make sense for you + your business... from inquiries all the way to completion + archiving. This gives me an at-a-glance overview of all the projects I currently have in motion.

03: Custom Workflows + Task Management

While I haven't delved into this feature in detail yet, it can AMAAAAAZINGLY helpful of keeping track of step-by-step tasks involved in different types of projects. I mean, you wouldn't use the same to-do list for photographing a WEDDING as you would for a FAMILY or CORPORATE stuff, right?

So you can create custom workflows for each project type, and apply them to each individual project, so that you essentially have your detailed to-do list right there and waiting for you! And it's easy to create new tasks and reminders, too. 

04: Project Workspace

Each Project gets its own workspace within Honeybook, so you can easily see ALL conversations, forms and documents associated with it. Your task list and notes are in there, too.

And the CLIENT sees their own version of this workspace, too, with easy access to their forms, questionnaires, conversations, and more! 

05: Easy Emailing (and a Digital Papertrail")

Speaking of keeping track of conversations, I love, love, freakin LOVE this feature!!! No longer do I have to search my inbox for emails coming through from my clients. Instead, I can email them directly from Honeybook, and Honeybook keeps track of all emails sent and replied to... so I never have to search through my inbox again (for stuff like "Where did we leave this conversation?" When do I need to follow up next, etc.). It's ALL THERE in Honeybook. And for those who love backing up their info in multiple places (me, me, me), Honeybook DOES send a copy of the email to your inbox, too.

You can even reply directly to the email in your inbox, and have it go straight to your client AND the project's workspace, without having to switch over to Honeybook for this!

06: Customizable Templates

I'm a BIG fan of the copy/paste method. Let's face it... 99% of the time, we're sending the SAME info over and over again to new clients... so why not create a template for each email + cut your response time in half?!

I've got email templates for EVERYTHING... inquiries for different session types, sending a contract or invoice, following up with people, sending questionnaires, prepping my clients for their sessions, etc. The list goes on and on. 

Now that I'm able to store these templates in one easy place, all I have to do is click a button to create a new email from one of these templates, customize it as needed, and send it on its way!

And it's NOT just for email... 

You can also create unlimited forms for questionnaires, invoices, packages, contracts, and MORE! 

There's even a "Proposal," which combines a brochure, invoice and contract all in one. This has saved me sooooooo much time in the long run, and clients appreciate how pretty + POLISHED it all looks, too!

07: It LOOKS good!

While this may not be a deal-breaker for some, I've found it to be a BIG selling point with my clients. I mean... in today's world, you've gotta make your business stand out in any way possible, amiright? 

Honeybook lets you customize the look of each workspace and file sent to your client, so you really CAN add your personality + branding to it all. And this adds to your "polished" look, making you look SO much more professional, too!

08: There's a corresponding APP!

We live in a mobile world, so it just makes SENSE that Honeybook has an easy-to-use app. Everything is right there at your fingertips, so you can get on-the-fly updates and quickly look up someone's phone number if you need it in a pinch. 

09: Calendar Integration

Honeybook easily integrates with Google Calendar + Calendly (and maybe a few others), which makes it suuuuuper simple to schedule new projects + tasks without having to worry about the dreaded double-booking! Honeybook will even WARN you if there's a possible conflict.

10: Take 50% off your subscription!!!
(Even month-to-month plans!)

Okay... this is HUGE! Because, I have to admit... I'm a bit of a cheapskate at times, and don't always have the funds to put into my business as much as I'd like. And this is the MAIN reason it took me so long to switch over to Honeybook in the first place. 

But as an affiliate, they've given me a way to pass on a 50% discount to all new users... regardless of whether you sign up for an annual subscription or even a month-to-month plan!

There's even a FREE 14-day trial period, with the 50% savings automatically kicking in if/when you officially sign up. All you have to do is click here to get started.

I could go on and on about how awesome the Honeybook platform truly is (and maybe I'll update this post in the future), but this should be enough info to get you started!