When Do I Need A CPA?


I recently started a new photography business.  Things are going well, and I feel like I’ve really mastered the artistic end of things and my clients are happy. But my books? I’m just not sure. I’m doing my best and I think things are okay; I only have a few transactions and the software I have makes things pretty easy. Still, I’m not quite sure if I’m handling things the right way. How do you know when you’re fine handling your accounting yourself, or when you need the help of a CPA?


– Not Sure if I Need a CPA in Louisiana


Dear Not Sure,

Congratulations on starting your new photography business! What an exciting time for you. I can completely sympathize with your questions about not being sure about your accounting, and wondering if you should hire a professional to help you. There are definitely pros and cons to each option, but let me make this as simple as I can. I have five top signs that show you’re ready to hire a CPA rather than try to handle things yourself. Here they are:

  1. If there comes a time when you routinely have questions about your accounting that you cannot answer
  2. If you hire employees and need to start paying quarterly employer taxes
  3. If you choose to incorporate your business as either a c-corporation or an s-corporation I would hire an attorney and an accountant to at the very least guide you through that process, and likely to continue on to help you with issues you may face with that more complicated business structure
  4. If your business grows and maintains a high level of revenue ($100,000+ per year) you may be better served having outside help for your transactional accounting since your time will be more valuable spent providing your services
  5. If you travel to provide your services and have to deal with income taxes and sales taxes in multiple locations. If you travel on a one-time basis I would recommend at least a one-time consultation with an accountant; if you travel routinely I would outsource at least having your income and sales taxes prepared.

In your situation, it sounds like you’re probably fine handling most of your daily transactions. But, if you’re feeling a bit uncertain, I’d recommend hiring a CPA for a one-time consultation in order to review your books and give you a few tips on things you may need to handle differently. Just having that confidence can make a world of difference in how you feel about the professional end of your business!

Good luck, and if you have any further questions you can feel free to email me at deborah@thephotographerselement.com. I’d love to help out if I can!



Are you planning to start your own business but haven’t figured out where to start yet? Or, did you start providing photography services but have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you really ought to make your business legit? Check out this post that goes over five steps that you need to take in order to register a new business.

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Deborah Nash

Deborah Nash


Her best adventures always happen with her handsome husband, her kindergartener who is too smart for his own good (or hers!), her brave toddler who seems to have no fear whatsoever, and her brand new baby girl. She loves photography and how it allows her to capture all her adventures, big and small, and to keep them forever. In order to fund her love of all things photography, she works part-time from home as a CPA.
Deborah Nash

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