When I was growing up and our family would go visit relatives we would always stay at their homes. And it never failed, everyone would come together in one house all at the same time for an entire week. Talk about crazyville. I can fondly remember sleeping on the top bunk bed with my grandmother sleeping on the bottom bunk snoring away. It literally sounded like a freight train. However, there was one thing my mother always instilled in us, where ever you go and what ever you do leave the place better then you found it.
Over the years this phrase has stuck with me like glue. And although we are not leaving the photography world anytime soon, I believe it is always important to try and make it better then we found it. With that in mind Brandon and I wanted to share a few of the essentials (we have learned “hands on”) for running a successful photography business.
1. A Business Plan
When we first started our business about 6 years ago now the first questions we asked were, how do we see our business growing in the next 6 – 12 months? What achievements would we like to accomplish. I can’t express enough how important these two questions are. Once you answer these questions set realistic monthly steps + goals that will lead to attaining your dreams. Attainable is the key and with the right strategy you can achieve BIG DREAMS.
2. Register Your Business Name
While registering a business with the state or local government isn’t necessarily required to complete business transactions, it is a smart choice for a new entrepreneur for a variety of reasons: Establishing Business Bank Accounts, Reputation With Customers, Supplier Arrangements, Hiring Employees, Legal Liability Protection and much more. We highly recommend it.
Reliable insurance is incredibly important when owning your own business. Imagine putting down your camera bag for a split second to capture an amazing shot. Your bag is filled with $15,000 in camera gear. You turn around to grab it just to find it is gone. Sheer Panic because this could mean the end of your business and it all happened in less the 60 seconds. When your gear is priorly insured it is all replaceable. Insurance also protect your finances, your livelihood as well as your clients.
4. A Solid Legal Contract
Help yourself help your clients by providing the most complete legal contract possible + review the contract in person with your clients during their consultation. Awkward situations + communication issues can pop up when least expected. However, we have found that having a solid legal contract that protects both our clients and ourself + reviewing it in person with them, builds trust, confidence and a great relationship.
5. Branding – Knowing Yourself + Your Business
When you have all the legal jive is complete it’s time for some fun, BRANDING! How do you want to present yourself + your business. When branding there is 5 things to keep in mind: who is your target market, who is your ideal client, how do you want clients to feel when they see your brand, what do you want to offer and what is your own personal style.
6. A Soul DrivenProfessional Online Presence
First impressions are so important + they can set you apart and define your business. The best part about own your own photography business is shooting what you LOVE and the key is focusing on the type of client you desire… your “Dream Client”. Designing a soul driven professional online experience that radiates who your are, what you offer, an easy-to-navigate website which shows off your portfolio, blog, client galleries and highlights will be your best investment. We recommend Showit for your website: http://www.showitfast.com
and ProPhoto Blogs: http://www.prophoto.com
7. Workflow System + Finance System
The utmost important part of our business is our clients and having a workflow system is the foundation of our daily business. Having a set series of intentional steps for inquiries, session consultations and processing is the smart way to work less, and it ensures you’re productive, streamlined and 100% efficient.
8. Product Love
Most of us are visual by nature and when we can see our visions come to life it rocks our worlds. The same holds true for your clients. During a consultation have on hand irresistible albums, gorgeous museum canvas showpieces and wall galleries, this will help your clients see how their moments will be captured and come to life.
9.) Back Up Gear
Have you ever had that nightmare dream where your camera stops working (out of nowhere) in the middle of the most important shoot of your life in the most beautiful location ever?!?!?!, then you wake up sweating and crying out loud? Well, if you ask Brandon, he will tell you I have had that nightmare one to many times. In lue of this fear, we always carry back up gear. We like to keep extras of the last version of camera bodies as back up when we upgrade to the new ones. If you don’t have the means to get two of each, purchase a lesser (or used) version of your camera. And obviously you always want to have spare batteries and extra memory cards on hand at all times.
10. An Experienced Bookkeeper + CPA
Messing up your taxes can cost your entire business. Ease stress and let the pros get your business finances on track right from day one. A great bookkeeper can get you started on Quickbooks (or program of your choice) right from the beginning and then balance you out at the end of each month. Your bookkeeper will then communicate with you and your CPA to take care of quarterly and yearly taxes.
11. An Optimistic Joyful Attitude
Optimism sets the stage for success and drives creativity. Ever try to be creative with a dark cloud over your head? Pretty tough, huh? Negativity kills creativity. Our most creative days were when optimism ruled. It might sound a little old-fashioned, but you’ll never accomplish your goal without the belief that you can do it. Plant seeds of happiness and cultivate your attitude like a garden.
12. Support Group
Reaching out to other local photographers via forms, vendor hangouts or FB is so important. This is a great place to give and receive both emotional and practical support as well as to exchange information. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same boat. Plus it will help maintain an Optimistic Joyful Attitude. A great place to start is http://showiteer.com