Living the entrepreneurial life is a dream come true for many.
However, it’s not always as easy as it looks.
Sure, running your own real estate photography business isn’t just about making great photos, getting to call the shots regarding your career, and doing what you love to make a living.
But, sometimes business owners have to do some un-glamorous things.
Things like… accounting.
Some people love accounting and managing finances – and we love and respect those people.
In fact, we need those people in our lives and businesses.
But, hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to manage the financial side of a business is not always feasible, especially if you’re just starting out.
Which is why many entrepreneurs take care of their business accounting themselves.
You can’t let accounting and finances take a backseat when it comes to running a business.
Doing so can disrupt your cash flow. Even worse, you could lose track of unpaid invoices and delinquent accounts.
Which is why, in the interest of providing you with a vast array of choices so that you – as a professional real estate photographer and business owner – can make an informed decision, we’ve done some research and come up with a short list of accounting and finance tools you can use.
In the beginning, when you’re just starting your real estate photography business, you might get away with typing out an invoice using a Word template, emailing it, and then waiting to get a check in the mail.
But before you know it, as your real estate photography business grows, this won’t be enough.
Creating and sending invoices, accepting and following up on payments, and recording income and expenses will quickly snowball into a major ordeal, if you’re not careful.
As a real estate photographer, you should consider investing in a system or software that will help you manage your business finances yourself.
The sooner you put a system into place, the better.
At the same time, you do not want to make a rash decision and set up a system that might not be the right fit for you.
Carefully consider what it is you really need. You may want something that includes all the bells and whistles, or you might find this too cumbersome to handle and prefer something more basic and simple.
Also, you need to consider costs. An accounting platform that costs a bit more but yields better results with less hassle might be more profitable for you in the big picture.
QuickBooks is a well-known accounting tool for small business owners, mostly because it easily integrates with your bank account and gives you the ability to automatically import and categorize your transactions.
QuickBooks also allows you to customize friendly reminders when payments are lagging behind schedule.
You can also customize your invoices, which is great for branding.
As a modern convenience in today’s digital world, QuickBooks allows you to take electronic photos of your checks and receipts.
There is no time-tracking feature built into QuickBooks, so you would have to use a third-party plug-in if you’ve structured your real estate photography fees and packages based on how much time a project requires. If you charge flat fees for your work, this might not matter to you.
QuickBooks boasts a ton of features (for instance, over 400 native integrations), which is very impressive, but you will need to ask yourself if you need such an abundance of extras. If not, you might feel like QuickBooks is too cumbersome to learn and implement, and you might be happier with something more simple.
QuickBooks enables you to create a variety of reports but be warned, you will require a sound knowledge of accounting to make use of these features.
Again, many of these capabilities will seem superfluous to some users, and some might find that QuickBooks is overly complicated to learn because of all these extras.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for accounting software that incorporates a wide variety of features, QuickBooks might be a good option for you.
You can get started with a low monthly fee of $10.
When it comes to accounting software, FreshBooks is one of the more expensive options. FreshBooks’ plans range from about $15-$50/month.
However, it also has the most number of features for that price. As a real estate photography business owner, you would need to gage for yourself if these options are worth the extra price.
Like QuickBooks, Freshbooks allows you to customize your invoices.
It also includes a time-tracking feature.
Furthermore, Freshbooks has done a really good job at integrating with other small business apps, such as G Suite and Gusto, allowing you to integrate your data in one place and seamlessly connect with your other apps.
It also boasts strong mobile apps.
It is important to mention that FreshBooks includes a good amount of training, by ways of videos, tutorials, and webinars.
The general public consensus seems to be that FreshBooks is easier to use than QuickBooks.
Furthermore, their customer experience is ranked among the best among “self-serve accounting apps”.
If you find both QuickBooks and FreshBooks to be excessive for your needs, and want an accounting software that is more straight-forward and easy to use, you might want to consider Wave Accounting.
Maybe you’re just starting out in business, and you don’t need anything too complex at this stage of the game.
Or, maybe you just like to keep things simple.
In any case, Wave Accounting is extremely user-friendly.
Wave Accounting is a good option if you don’t need much more than an accounting software that creates and sends your invoices, and keeps track of payments.
As a real estate photographer who is likely on the road a lot, you should know that Wave Accounting allows you to connect to a cloud, which means your data is always available and backed up.
You can invoice while on the move, using one of their free apps.
And, you can accept online payments as well.
There is no time-tracking and integrations are limited (under 10) with Wave Accounting. Also, they don’t have a lot of training material.
Wave Accounting is free to start, but you will pay a higher transaction per cost. However, if you are just starting out, or if you process a limited number of payments per month, this could very well work in your favor.
PocketSuite is an app that you download to your phone.
That’s right – your phone.
PocketSuite is revolutionizing the way we look at accounting software.
The entire platform is built around SMS and social media.
PocketSuite allows you to send professional invoices (via text or email) to any customer directly from your phone and allows your clients to pay online within seconds.
For a real estate photographer constantly on the go between shooting locations, this might be ideal.
Some entrepreneurs will love the speed and ease of managing their invoices from their phone. Others will hate it. It’s a personal preference.
Beyond invoicing, PocketSuite doesn’t do much else for your business accounting needs. So, if you are looking for something with more features, PocketSuite might not be right for you.
A solopreneur can start with PocketSuite for free. You can link a checking account and receive direct deposits for any client credit card payments. There is a flat 2.7% processing fee, for a 1-2 day direct deposit.
Premium accounts with more features start at around $19.99 per month, and if your real estate photography business requires a team to access your PocketSuite account, rates go up to about $99.99.
Who hasn’t heard of PayPal?
PayPal boasts over 203 million users across the globe.
Its popularity and reputation lend a certain credibility to your business when you use it for invoicing your clients.
Although not overly fancy, the invoices can be customized with your logo and business information very quickly and easily.
Send your invoice via email with just a few clicks.
Sending reminders for late payments takes just a few clicks as well.
You will receive an email when your invoice gets paid and your money will soon appear in your PayPal account, ready to transfer directly to your bank account.
It is worth noting how easy PayPal makes it for your clients to make their payments – which means you’ll get paid quickly.
Your clients just hit the “Pay Now” button and they can pay via credit card, PayPal balance, or bank account. They don’t even need a PayPal account to pay you.
There are no set-up fees to get started with PayPal, but their transaction fees are a bit higher than PocketSuite: 2.9% + $0.30 per paid invoice. This is comparable to Wave Accounting’s rates.
As a real estate photographer, it is imperative that you keep track of your invoices and manage your finances with a basic accounting platform. Fortunately, there are many accounting tools available for small business owners like yourself.
As we saw, QuickBooks has many features and is reasonably priced, but it can seem overwhelming to learn and implement for someone who is not very interested in learning about accounting. FreshBooks is simpler to use, and still has many features to offer.
However, if you are working with a simple business model, or you are just starting out, you might find that these software solutions to be excessively complicated. If this is the case, consider Wave Accounting, which is a streamlined platform that can manage your invoices with limited bells and whistles. PocketSuite is also a very basic solution that enables you to manage your invoices from your phone.
And lastly PayPal is also a very reliable way to invoice and receive quick payments, and it is trusted internationally.
We hope you have found this information helpful! Please let us know your feedback and if you have other tools that you would recommend to others.
Stay tuned for our second part of our Small Business series as we dive into the world of Website Platforms.
Thank you to our iGUIDE Operators that started the business tools discussion.