Starting a photography business is extremely easy with the accessibility and affordability of digital cameras and processing programs. Often the lure of entrepreneurship, with these low barriers to entry, leads to many photography business owners of all business experiences. Experience levels range from lack of business competence, to the need for growth in photography skills to a mixture of skills with varying weaknesses and strengths. Before entering into business it is important to evaluate whether you are technically proficient, ready to deal with business legalities, have a good grasp of business operating costs, engaging in market research and client management.
#1 – Are you technically proficient?
The first step is to determine if technical proficiency is at a level to provide a quality, consistent product to each client that comes through the door. The importance of delivering consistently rests in word of mouth marketing and preventing disappointment when a client’s expectations are not met.
#2 – Are you ready to deal with business legalities?
After technical proficiency comes the battle of business legalities including (but certainly not limited to: business formation, filing appropriate tax documents, acquiring required permits and licenses and using quality contractual documents. These legalities can be acquired through outsourcing to lawyers and certified public accountants, but a good, knowledgeable grasp of business legalities and the requirements placed on business owners is paramount to the success of your business.
#3 – Do you know your business operating costs?
Following the previous two business necessities comes the costs of running the business. Having arms around the operating costs will assist you in setting appropriate pricing, and in making future investment decisions. Business operating costs are expenses that are directly related to the operation of the photography business. This is calculated by ascertaining costs of resources used to maintain the existence of the business. Operating costs include: rent, utilities, licenses, fees, insurance, maintenance of equipment, office supplies, income taxes, and wages.
Note: It is a good idea to also include a “rainy day savings” into the operating costs for you to have to fall-back on in times of need.
#4 – Have you done your research?
An ever-required and demanding aspect of business is the initial and constant research on market influences, demands and overall factors that impact how the business will be maintained and marketed. Engaging in research is an organized effort to obtain information about the local market and potential clients. In order to effectively create and implement a successful business strategy, research must be done. Research should include identifying marketing information, trends, and the SWOT (SWOT = Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats to the business) analysis of competitors. The strategies decided upon from out of this research are a key factor to maintaining a competitive edge over competitors and a higher probability for engaging clients.
#5 – Do you know how to manage clients?
Juggling all of the previous “business things” can get even more complicated when adding on managing of clients. Having a solid business workflow filled with automation, organization and constant revision is necessity to keep the business moving forward when it becomes easy to be distracted with client management and production of the products and services.
Having the right answers to these considerations does not guarantee a successful business but will increase probability for success, higher level of client satisfaction and less frustration along the way.