Case Study: How One Simple Investment Helps Me Improve Both Money and Time Management

January 16, 2017


time managementAs an established, award-winning architectural photographer, it’s always a joy to reflect on my freelance journey—it’s taken me from a conflicted college student to an established professional in a few short years. I have been in business as a sole proprietor for four years. Investing in a small business accounting platform has afforded me the opportunity to work in the medium that I love while growing my business and increasing my revenue.

From an early age, I knew I wanted to work in photography and film. After college and a lot of soul-searching, I returned home to Northern California. At that point, I knew I didn’t want to take the traditional Hollywood path which would’ve meant starting at the bottom and slowly working my way up. The idea of waiting to be afforded an opportunity, regardless of my talent, didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to apply my passion and skill-set much more aggressively and directly. That said, I decided the best way for me to achieve this goal was to start my own business.

I began my freelance career by shooting photographs of architecture and decided right then and there to go all in. I realized how similar that genre was to film making. Architectural photography involves many moving parts—the film production style of planning out shots, working with an art director, and producing 8 to 12 final shots that are intentional and focused. The shots are staged, and I am able to work with industry people to capture the perfect photo. Architectural photography not only inspires me, but I was able to quickly build a nice portfolio within my first year of business and begin generating revenue.

A Small Investment with a Big Return

Investing in a financial solution was not a priority for me at first. In fact, I tried to convince myself of all the reasons why I didn’t need to pay for an accounting software. In the first few years, I was not making that much money, so I didn’t think it was a necessary expense. Finally, there came a point in time when I realized that I wasn’t using my time appropriately. I was manually drafting estimates and invoices and then manually sending them. I found myself waiting around for a check to arrive via snail mail without ever knowing if my client had received or viewed my invoice.

As my freelance career flourished, I realized I had complete control over my business. This included all of the fun stuff, but also the unglamorous side of accounting and securing payment. As business began to thrive, my finances required more and more time. At that point, a friend encouraged me to check out FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting software. I quickly learned that an accounting platform was exactly what I needed to alleviate my accounting headache and elevate my business to the next level.

Investing in the Right Accounting Tool Matters

I attribute my long-term success to having the necessary tools and information that I need set in place. When I need to work on a certain goal, the information is available and tracked by FreshBooks. Now, I encourage all freelance professionals to embrace the mindset of spending money to make money. Don’t be afraid to invest in a little help from the experts upfront. That lesson enabled me to make more sound investments to improve the efficiency of my business.

To my surprise, it was incredibly easy to transition from my manual process to an accounting software. Literally, as soon as I started using FreshBooks, I started making more money and getting paid faster. Accounting became a much more seamless and time-saving task.

The Ease of Use Means I’ll Get Paid Faster

The beauty of FreshBooks is how simple and straightforward it is to use. Now, when a new customer calls to ask for a quote, I can draft an estimate within minutes which otherwise might have taken hours. Additionally, I can include my contract information and send that directly to the client with the estimate.

Best of all, collecting payments is now super easy. FreshBooks’ online payments has been an amazing feature for both me and my clients. In fact, my clients have adopted and started using FreshBooks’ credit card functionality. I’m now getting paid within minutes of invoicing a client and, as a small business owner, I don’t have to tell you how important that is.

Ultimately, I want my clients to be happy, which means I enjoy making business transactions as easy as possible. The accounting software has overhauled my cumbersome payment process and made it hassle-free. I’ve finally escaped the endless loop of waiting for a check to arrive in the mail and then calling the customer to check a payment’s status. It’s certainly a moneymaker and time-saver for all parties.

Organized Reports Make Tax Time a Breeze

In addition to expediting the payment process, FreshBooks’ reporting functionality saves me time and money on my taxes. Being able to tag and categorize my expenses and deductions within FreshBooks so they update in my profit and loss report (P&L) is perfect. This way, when tax season arrives, I run a quick export of my P&L, expenses, and income by client. I can see what I have spent by category and even filter to see what I’ve spent solely on education materials, subcontractors etc. Immediately, I have access to a macro or micro overview. This allows me to tackle my taxes and business forecasting quickly and efficiently.

Most of All, FreshBooks Helps Me Grow My Business

Each year my client base and revenue’s grown. Currently, I manage 15 clients using FreshBooks and plan to expand because I have more time to focus on my clients and the growth of my business. FreshBooks has changed how I run my business and is constantly adding new features.

As my business matures, it’s great to know my accounting software is maturing alongside me. I encourage all freelancers to be proactive in their investments and work with vendors dedicated to their success. Investing in FreshBooks has been critical to the growth of my business. I say, with certainty, I see a direct correlation between my continued revenue growth and investment in FreshBooks.


about the author

Owner, Gregory Cortez Media Gregory Cortez is a California-based photographer, specializing in architecture and interior design photography. His company, Gregory Cortez Media, produces results that fit clients’ brands and meet business goals. Gregory uses FreshBooks to take his design business to the next level.