If you had to guess what three people are the most important to your long-term success as a photographer, what would you say?
Your assistant? Your second shooter? Your significant other?
Though these are all very important people (and you should tell them that!), there are three other people that I think might be even more important to your success in both the short-term and the long-term:
An accountant, an insurance agent, and an attorney.
Particularly when you’re just starting out, these professionals can help ensure that you’re on the right path and that you’re protected from all the things that could ruin your business.
Getting audited, having your gear stolen, and being the subject of a lawsuit aren’t fun things to experience, yet some business owners find themselves in those unsavory situations.
As a result, having a team of professionals to back you up isn’t a luxury - it’s a necessity.
Let’s go over a few reasons why you need to rely on a good accountant, insurance agent, and attorney.
While you likely know all too well that you have to wear many hats as a photographer, being your own accountant is generally not a good idea.
It’s one thing to file your personal taxes on your own.
However, it’s an entirely other animal understanding the intricate details of business tax law. One mistake, and you could pay dearly for it.
Instead, having a qualified accountant take the reins is one of the best choices you can make. Though it’s tough to see that money come out of your pocket to pay a tax professional, in the end, they will likely save you more than enough money to pay for their services several times over.
And, even if they can’t find you some tax breaks, the peace of mind knowing that your books are spot on should be enough to justify the expense.
Ask around and see what accountant other small businesses (and even better, other photographers) use. And, once you have a few recommendations, be sure to vet each one so you know you’re teaming up with the right person for you.
An Insurance Agent
Just like an accountant can spare you from financial disaster down the road, a good insurance agent can do the same.
Though it might seem like you can roll the dice and go without business insurance, it’s just far too risky to hope that you don’t injure yourself, cause injury to someone else, or get sued because you didn’t fulfill your part of the bargain with a client.
In that regard, having an insurance agent that knows the ins and outs of the photography business is advantageous because they can offer customized plans that protect you in this line of work.
For example, National Photographer’s Insurance, as you might guess, is in the business of insuring independent photographers. Their coverage plans are targeted to protect you in the many different scenarios you might find yourself in:
- Business Personal Property coverage ensures that damaged or stolen goods are replaced, up to $1 million or more if need be.
- Photographic Equipment Off-Premises coverage protects you in the event that your gear is damaged while you’re on location for a shoot, up to $5,000 per item and $25,000 per occurrence.
- General Liability coverage means you’re protected in the event that someone is injured while on your property, up to $2 million per occurrence and $4 million aggregate.
Not only that, but National Photographer’s Insurance also offers specialized coverage that protects you from professional liabilities, offers up to $50,000 in coverage for valuable papers and records, and provides you with 12 months of coverage in case your business has to close due to a covered loss.
The best part is that National Photographer’s Insurance is a small business, just like yours. As a result, they understand the unique challenges you face being in business for yourself. Combined with a special emphasis on offering services specifically to photographers, that makes National Photographer’s Insurance an ideal choice to protect your business.
Having an attorney in your corner will serve you well throughout your career.
Sure, having an attorney is helpful in the event you get sued. However, if you’re properly insured, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Where an attorney is most beneficial to you is at the outset when you’re setting up your business.
You want to be sure that you get your business lined out in a manner that is completely legal, thus the need for an attorney.
Obviously, hiring a defense lawyer for this task isn’t very smart.
Instead, you need to find a lawyer that specializes in business-related pursuits, like creating contracts and setting up the proper type of business (i.e. LLC, partnership, S-Corp, etc.). Think about other issues that you might encounter as well: intellectual property issues like copyrights, which is another area of expertise for attorneys.
And, I know what you’re thinking: “Why can’t an accountant advise me on the structure of my business?”
Though accountants undoubtedly have a lot of expertise in helping you establish your business from a tax point of view, they might not have the breadth of knowledge to assist you in actually structuring the business.
But, because attorneys study business-related topics and are tested on those topics for the Bar Exam, they should be your go-to professional for questions related to actually setting up the business.
Though there are plenty of other people that will play an integral role in the success of your business, an accountant, an insurance agent, and an attorney are among the most important.
Don’t neglect adding these all-important people to your team. Though they will incur expenses, in the end, with the success of your business on the line, those expenses are worth it to have everything done right and protected.