Essential Tools for Business
Building a business is hard work. Anyone who says otherwise is probably not as successful as you might think. Last week I defined what my personal idea of a successful business looks like and this week I wanted to share what tools I use each day to keep that success alive. Each business has different essential tools for business. Besides my gear, my editing software and my client experience, I think the seven most important tools in my business belt are the things listed below!
Any task management system will do, but my favorite is trello! We use it for to-do lists, to keep up with ongoing projects and to create content! It has been SUCH a game changer, and we haven’t even fully learned the ins and outs of it yet!
My Team :
I literally could write a whole blog post on the importance of a team mentality in business. Seriously, my team is my most important tool when it comes to essential tools for business. They are the experts, and I love diving deep into their wisdom, listening to their guidance, and having them be a part of Anna Filly Photography! Now, something that is incredibly important for me to point out is that my team is made up of experts in their own specific field. What I mean by that is, they don’t all work for me each and every day. Let me explain…. A few years ago ( and even more recently, if we are being totally honest) I found myself doing everything under the sun for my business. Not only was I doing my own taxes, but I was also researching Alabama laws for my photography contracts, I was photographing my clients, posting to social media, writing blog posts and creating client gifts. I did it ALL. And do you know what I learned? You cannot do it all, and do it well. But gosh golly did I try. And you know what? My business suffered because of it. One of my most valuable pieces of advice is that if you are not an expert in something, HIRE an expert.
To share a little more light on what my team looks like, here are some people that play a part in the Anna Filly Photography experience:
My lawyer: He’s so great. Literally he has helped me with developing my contract and also is just an all around encouragement.
My accountant: Ohhh the stories I could tell about my bad accountant experiences- hiring an accountant that KNOWS small business is essential. My financial advisor: “Where do you want to be in five years?” Was the first question he asked me, and I’ve been asking myself that ever since. Planning for the future of your business is essential for the LIFE of your business!
EllenJay: If you’re an Anna Filly Bride, you know how these girls play into my client experience 🙂 Can you believe that I used to bake my clients cookies? They weren’t half as good as EllenJays!!
My editor: This woman! Not only does she help me with my photography, but also with the development of my business experience as a whole. Because of her, I don’t spend ALL day in front of a computer anymore, and I am SO grateful for that.
My sister: This year we hired on my sister to work alongside us as we grew and it has been SO amazing. She works behind the scenes, enhancing our client experience, submitting to publications and learning the ins and outs of SEO, Pinterest and social media.
My second shooters: Gratefully I have three amazing second shooters that I work with and they are SUCH a joy ! Emily, Anna and Alyx have been such a joy AND they love my clients SO gosh darn well. Next time you see one of them at a wedding with me, give them a hug, won’t you?!
A Money Management System:
Where does the money go once your client has paid you? How much ACTUAL profit are you making (net). What are your deductions? What can you deduct? When I started my business I kept two spreadsheets. One spreadsheet was for the money coming in, and the other was for my business expenses. When tax season rolled around, I thought I was golden. BUT, I hadn’t accounted for the taxes I would pay and my business money was in the same account as my personal money (Some of you almost spit out your coffee.). I’ve learned a lot since those good ole days. I’m going to repeat what I said above: if you are not an expert in something, hire an expert. Don’t waste precious time and money trying to figure things out on your own when you can hire someone who knows far more than you do. Hiring an accountant and a financial advisor that I trust while also developing a system for money management has been a GAME CHANGER ! Money management systems are SUCH essential tools for business!
Mile IQ :
I’m all about simplicity. I love the simple things in life. One of the most simple, beautiful apps on my phone is called Mile IQ. And do you know what it does? Mile IQ tracks each time you get into a moving vehicle and YOU tell the app if the trip was for business or if it was personal. WHAT?! Yep. I’m reluctant to admit that for years I struggled with remembering to write mileage down. I eventually started taking pictures of my odometer each time I got in and out of the car…. it was a faulty system and it only lasted for so long. With Mile IQ I am able to spend 15 minutes a month to categorize my mileage. If you’re tired of trying to track miles for business, and need a system that truly WORKS, please do yourself a favor and sign up for Mile IQ using my referral code!
A creative outlet other than what’s “normal”:
Being a creative entrepreneur, my creative outlet became my career. But, AS a creative, that nearly killed me (as dramatic as that sounds, it’s kind of true!). I truly believe that creative entrepreneurs need something that is fun but isn’t considered “work”! Now, as a creative outlet, I like to decorate, BAKE + cook, and garden. Making time for these things helps me feel refreshed and renewed, ready to ENJOY what I do even more!
Now, these next two things are specifically for photographers, but they are extremely beneficial !
Did you know that you need to reformat your images when you blog them so that they are “web ready” ? When I first started out, I didn’t do that. My images on the blog were the same size as they were when I delivered them to my clients. The PROBLEM with that is that they slowed down the downloading abilities of my blog, which means that it took FOREVER for the images to load because they were so big. Blogstomp changed the game for me! It’s a program that allows me to make my images “web ready” with one click!
I used to cull in Lightroom. If you’re not a photographer, “culling” means going through a session and picking your favorite images. The images selected will be the ones that you edit and deliver to your client. When you do this in lightroom it can take hours because as you go from one image to the next it takes a second or two for the image to load. I don’t know what sort of magic Photo Mechanic has within it, but you can click through fully loaded images in record speed, picking your favorites and setting yourself up for optimum success!
I hope this helps and encourages you. These essential tools for business have truly helped me become a better businesswoman!
xoxo Anna Filly