Starting a photographic business? Before you buy a camera and all the gear and create a killer website, you might want to look at a few fundamentals first. A little prep work now could save you from a whole mess of headache and nightmare down the road.
Write a business plan for starting a photographic business
Start with a pen and paper (or your PC and a blank document) and make a detailed roadmap of what your business will look like. What it is and what it does, how it will make money, pay bills, cash flow, expenses … even who your competition is.
Generally, if you run a business you are offering a solution to a problem. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who is your market? What is your [realistic] forecast for sales? What are your expenses? Search online, there are loads of articles on how to approach this. Check out this article by Nate Torres.
Assess your startup business costs
It is almost impossible these days to start a photographic business without startup costs, even if they are small, they can soon add up. Camera gear, classes, workshops, rent, website and hosting, advertising … the list goes on. Make a spreadsheet and try and map out as many as you can. There will no doubt be unexpected costs, but add them in, re-budget and re-evaluate.
Is this something you can afford, do you require finance? If you require finance, work out what you really can afford. Perhaps you may need to start out small and grow in time? A budget spreadsheet is a good place to start.
Create a brand and business name
This can be a dilemma for many. Do you go for a brand and a business name that describes what your business does or do you make yourself the brand? When starting a photographic business it’s important to decide if you are your own brand ambassador. I went with my name, but there have been times where I thought a cute name and logo might have been the way to go.
Sometimes business evolves and having a set logo and name might not match your final direction. Using your own name can get around that. It’s totally a personal choice. Consider the tools at your disposal.
Insurance and legals for starting a photographic business
Starting a photographic business can be a minefield and seeking business advice from a professional can be a good idea. There is public liability insurance, public indemnity insurance, insurance for your gear and your studio. Even if you work from home, your general household insurance may not cover you for business purposes.
Different states and territories and even countries have different regulations, so check with your local authority about what is required. Client contracts, model releases and the correct permits may be required. While you can download some samples online, you may need some solid advice on this too.
I wish that when I started out, I had done some or all of the above. It took me a few years, but I finally got my business on track. Did I end up where I thought I might, no. I did however end up somewhere even better. I’m no financial planner, so it’s best to always discussed with an advisor or legal authority while making your own action plan.