So you have your photography business up and running and you just hit 5,000 miles, time to change the oil, right?!
C’mon Marissa, my business is not a car! I don’t have any oil to change!
Alright, I guess you don’t have to change your oil, but you do have some maintenance to do.
And not just on your camera gear.
People generally do maintenance based on time dependent intervals or usage so they can prevent larger failures from occurring and keep their gear in ideal shape.
Just like gear, it’s important to keep your business in ideal shape and maintain it well upfront to reduce the risk of future failures.
Here’s an example. I know that my taxes are due annually, but… I don’t want to find out on April 15th that I have saved an incorrect amount and have to scramble to find Uncle Sam’s money.
Soooo, I do two things. First, I balance my business checkbook every single month. This includes archiving all my receipts and ensuring all the transactions on my account are accurate and accounted for in my books.
Second, I do a quarterly tax audit. Depending on your income level, this may be required for your business in order to pay your quarterly tax amounts. However, it is a good idea even if it’s not required, to audit your finances quarterly so you can ensure your tax savings is on pace throughout the year.
But Marissa, I don’t like to change my oil, and I HATE doing bookkeeping!
As you grow your business, you are going to find areas you enjoy, and areas that are better left for outsourcing. Just like you can go to Jiffy Lube to get your oil changed, you can also outsource some of your business maintenance, like hiring an accountant.
So how do you know what your maintenance items are?
I started my list by brainstorming into several categories: regulatory, technical, equipment, and client perspective.
Here are some examples from each category. Next to each item, I placed an M (if the item is monthly), Q (if the item is quarterly), or A (if the item is annual).
Regulatory: Business license renewal (A), Taxes (A), which inspired Internal Tax Audit (Q), monthly bookkeeping (M) and Annual Finance Projection (A).
Technical: Backup Files (M), clean dropbox (M).
Equipment. Camera cleaning (A), Lens cleaning (M).
Client Perspective: Branding review (A), social media review (Q), product guide update (A).
Then, I took all of my brainstorming items and rearranged them by timeframe to give you a small business checklist. For these examples, that would look like:
• Monthly Bookkeeping
• Backup Files
• Clean Dropbox
• Lens Cleaning
• Internal Tax Audit
• Social Media Review
• Business License Renewal
• Annual Finance Projection
• Camera Cleaning
• Branding Review
• Product Guide Update
Each of these timeframes then become a maintenance checklist. So the first Monday of the month, I do my monthly checklist. Every third month, I do my quarterly checklist, and once a year I do my annual checklist.
By doing these items on a routine basis, I save myself BIG HEADACHES in the long run and keep my business on auto-pilot throughout the year.
Oh yeah, one more thing.
I definitely didn’t have every item on my list in my first brainstorm. As you find yourself doing something that is not on the checklist, ask yourself: Is this a routine? Should it be? If yes, just pencil it in and include it next time you print your list.
And incase you’re like me and you know you won’t do these things just because you’ve made a list, try out some of the programs that will help give you that reminder, schedule these things on your google calendar, or if you prefer the virtual list use programs like Trello!