I'm Dolly — a Nashville based branding photographer for small business owners & a systems + workflow educator (and Podcast Host) for creatives who want to be more streamlined and organized with Systems, Workflows & Dubsado. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about workflows!
Running a small business is incredible. From getting to be your own boss to having all the flexibility, and even being able to serve your clients well with your unique gifts and talents, the perks feel pretty endless.
But if you’re anything like me, the financial side of running a business can make you want to run for the hills. Well, at least, that was how I felt before I developed my very own tool to help business owners just like you automate and streamline all the financial parts of a small business.
In this blog, I’m giving you an overview of my finance template for creatives. You don’t have to be afraid of the numbers anymore. When you use these systems, you’ll reclaim control of your business’s finances and feel empowered to run all parts of your business like a pro.
A special note: I am in no way, shape, or form stating that this should take place above hiring an accountant. One of my first hires, when I began my own business full time, was to hire a CPA/Accountant to help me with the financial aspect of my business so that I knew exactly how much I owed in taxes. But while I was working alongside my accountant I actually used this exact system I am about to share with you to keep track of my own numbers so that I could have a better understanding of the numbers behind my business. I firmly believe that knowledge is power and in order to know how you can better scale and grow your business, you must understand what it takes to actually run your business.
I also promised I would share my own financial story with you, here is a link to the entire story of how my husband and I paid off $175K in 19 months!
1 – List your business goals
How much money do you want to make this year after taxes are taken out? That question is integral to setting up the rest of your financial roadmap successfully. Think about a good, better, and best number and write it down.
The thing is – I know it can get scary to write those numbers down because you feel afraid of not hitting them. But you’ll be surprised how much success you experience once you start tracking your revenue goals and making real strides towards hitting them.
Also, you need to take a step back and assess what are YOUR personal good/better & best financial goals…meaning just stop assuming. you need to make 6, 7, or even 8 figures in your business to “be successful”. Heck, if your goal was to make $10,000 in your business and that was after you put aside taxes and paid any overhead costs and you hit that goal, then that is incredible! Why are you assuming that you HAVE to make over 6 figures to “be successful”? Again, you know your personal goals and what you need so just stop comparing your beginning chapter with someone else’s middle chapter when it comes to finances, okay?
One way to look at creating your business goals is this: say you have a goal of taking home $50,000 from your business. Okay, what would be a good number BELOW that you still would be happy with (where you are still profiting), and what would be a number ABOVE that numbers which would be amazing?
An example of that could be your good goal is $35,000, your better goal could be $50,000 and your best goal could be $65,000!
If you wanted to take a deeper dive into that, then divide each of those goals into 4 (for 4 quarters of the year) and so:
I share that example because sometimes it is good to have a number to aim for instead of just blindly aiming for some elusive number that you “think” you need. This part takes time because you’ll actually need to sit down and see what it takes to run your business and what you will need to bring home as profit in order for it to be worth your time + actually to pay for your living expenses if you are doing this full-time.
Again, I hope that example makes sense!
2 – Consider Taxes
The word “taxes” used to make me want to crawl under my covers and hide. Taxes seem complicated and like a lot to wrap your head around – especially as a small-business owner. Can you relate?
I’ll be honest – I still don’t feel like a tax wizard, but I do know how to prepare my business for inevitable taxes. For me, that looks like putting 30% of my income away every month to pay off taxes. For you, that might look different. Either way – once you determine an amount of money to put away for taxes every month, you can stop worrying about being blindsided every time tax season rolls around.
I have learned that you should take taxes off of your profit you have made. So in my expenses spreadsheet, I have a column for the income (revenue) that I bring in. In another column, I have all of the overhead expenses for the month. And in a third column, it automates the total revenue made. Then I take the total income – (minus) the expenses (overhead costs) and that is my profit for the month. In the next row, it automates my taxes which will be taken off of my profit earned for the month, and that gives me = my profit after taxes.
Again, I know this is a mouthful, but the beauty is, I have this all automated and streamlined in my expense spreadsheet, and because I just simply input the numbers in, it does all the “math” for me and I can simply double-check the math with my business bank account and with my accountant for tax purposes.
3 – Track where your income is coming from
For some businesses, this step is especially easy. But for others (like yours truly) this step can be… well… a lot. You want to start by considering how many revenue streams your business has. Do you sell one product or offer multiple services? If you sell one product, are there multiple versions, tiers, or ways to access it?
Make a list of every single product your business sells and what the price point for that product is. Then, begin to track every time one of those products sells. You’ll not only know where revenue is coming from, but you’ll also be able to see what your most successful products are at a glance!
A way I do this within my own business template is that every time I input revenue in from a sale or service it automates it on my spreadsheet to let me know what service is selling the best (in a bar-graph) so that at the end of the year I can assess which services I should keep and which services I should maybe reconsider (*because again, you gotta learn from the data and not just your “feelings”)
4 – Track your expenses
Every business has expenses – it’s just a part of the game. But tracking your expenses doesn’t have to be something that makes you fearful of being “in the red”. In fact, tracking your expenses can help you stay out of debt and ensure you’re making a profit every month.
Expenses can include anything from travel to software and even gifts for your clients. Think about all your possible expenses and write them down. Oh, and pro tip: note what expenses renew on a monthly or yearly basis. That way, you’ll have some consistency to work off of as you plan your finances for future months.
When I sat down to do this step, I saw that I was actually wasting a lot of money on tools I did NOT need for my business. So I ended up saving money so that I could strategically use that money in other ways to better scale and grow my business. Once again, knowledge is power, so take the time to know the expenses behind your business.
➡️If you feel so overwhelmed with the thought of having to tackle your finances within your business, just take a deep breath and know that it’s one step at a time. I created a free 8-page download for you to use (print off or save to your desktop) as a framework for you to know where to even start if you decide to set up systems for the finances of your small business.
You can access it here:
I go over all of this and more in my Bookkeeping Template for Creatives. Plus – when you sign up, you not only unlock a free template to help you track all of your spending, saving, and income in one place, but you also unlock 4 tutorial videos on how to use this template. How cool is that?
At the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing for me: you need to feel confident about your finances in your business. You need to know where your money is going. In this template + video tutorial, I’ll show you how so that you can experience financial insight for your growing business.
Let’s make THIS THE year you take ownership of your business finances. Just click here to get started.
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family & branding photographer and a creative business owner who educates on all things Pinterest, Dubsado, Lead Magnets & Email Marketing (aka pretty much all the fun automation stuff centered around those business systems)! Dolly loves serving families, and business owners with her timeless, radiant photography.
She also has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Pinterest, Dubsado, email marketing, and business systems with new creative business owners in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that even muggles can become automating wizards!
She offers resources through her blog posts, her online shop where she has several automation & systems-related mini-courses, and 1:1 VIP days. Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, she wants to help you discover the magic of being more streamlined in your business!
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong, fill out her contact form here.
Nervous about where to begin with tracking the expenses + income of your business (or side-hobby)? Here is a FREE income and expense report template that will automate your profits for you every time you input your specific business expense + income! This comes with an easy-to-follow tutorial video on how to get started! Stop being intimated by the numbers of your business! It’s time to take control of your finances! But most importantly, it’s time to step into the CEO role of your business by learning how to better streamline and automate the NUMBERS behind your business!
Or maybe you're not really sure how you'd use your new collection of branded images? Download my free planning guide to learn how to plan an elevated brand photography session to impact your business!