Each year without fail over ninety percent (90%) of small business fail in the USA and in western civilization across the globe. This, my friend, includes the photography arena. I have never been able to come to grips with this figure because I find it frightening. As it turns out though, most people in those statistics I just gave you move on to another venture or re-do the same venture and become successful either the next attempt or the one after. Thank goodness!
Over the years I have been coaching and working along side people to ensure they make a profit from their photography business venture, I have noticed from a distance that many photographers simply throw themselves straight in the ‘deep end’ because they could already take excellent photographs and were remarkably creative.
A couple of them were gifted or talented photographers, much better than I ever was or will be. From the entire group of jump-ins (over 7 years) only one photographer survived and I think that might have had something to do with his parents owning a wedding reception hall. To give greater clarity, that was one person from fifty eight to the best of my knowledge.
Some of them later went back to start again after asking me for some pointers for clarity and direction. That’s what inspired me to compile a guide, write articles and build my website profitable-photography.com based entirely on that theme – starting a profitable photography business. There is a big difference between that and opening a photography business. You should read that last sentence again.
1. It’s highly likely that you have a strong passion for photography because you are reading this. This won’t cut it either. A strong passion for photography and its creative environment is different to a strong passion for succeeding in business. There are exceptions here because some photographers have such a strong passion for photography they seek out advice or guidance to ensure success.
2. Telling your parents, partner or your best friends that you are throwing yourself into a photography business won’t bring success on its own either
3. If you’re on a budget (most realistic people are), it is foolish to run out and buy state of the art camera equipment and other advanced photographic accessories when you are unsure you will use it in the earlier stages of your small business venture. That may come later. At the outset you should try to keep costs at a bare minimum.
4. No one will argue that you must still have a grasp on your profit and loss sheet and cash flow to succeed. Your balance sheet is really just a snapshot in time but is still important. Have a yarn with your accountant. Accountants worth their value won’t charge you for this because they will consider the long term relations with you and your small but potentially growing business.
5. Some of these issues are understandable because the drive to do something we all like to earn a living from is like pursuing the dream of utopia. Therefore, people rush in trying to make it all happen in a short time frame. This often ends up a catastrophe with a lot of good hard earned savings and often borrowings being thrown to the wind.
6. The interesting point is (now that I’ve reached a gloom and doom level) is that all this is easily avoided. It is so easily avoided that I find it frustrating when I see people who have rejected the opportunity of advice or guidance when it’s been made so easily available, and later they wonder why they’ve crashed and burned! It is so, so easy to avoid all of the above. Catch this – it’s much easier to avoid failure than undertaking even the risk of going through the above and still being successful. Why? Because knowing what to do brings confidence.
7. Most often, toward the end of a failing business the majority of owners become desperate and do things they otherwise might not. Sometimes depression shows its ugly face and worse, depression following financial collapse. Then you have the task of collecting yourself and your self esteem again and starting from scratch.
8. Here’s another little gem. Don’t even think about starting a photography business unless you are sure you can generate persistence when required. Like all small businesses, there will be some heart breaks and wins. When you lose a good client, don’t go to the nearest bar and whine to your friends and loved ones, take stock of why you lost the client and make sure you do something about it so it doesn’t happen again. Throw your pride out the window and approach your client with a solution and something a little more than last time.
9. The biggest dud cop-out I hear over and over again is “I lost my business to a cheaper photographer!” Give me a break! If this is a concern for you, then beware, because there’s a chance you don’t have the solutions to run a profitable business. That issue will be around forever as far as I can tell. The highly successful photographers don’t concern themselves with that issue at all but I’ll tell you this for free – once upon a time they did!
10. Only you know if you are a truly keen photographer. You are the only person who knows whether it would please you to earn a living from such an enviable vocation. Moreover, you won’t find your answer on the internet, in a book, or from your grandmother. Your own ‘gut’ will translate your desire. Remember this, if you decide to proceed, for goodness sake, be smart and do it correctly the first time!
Note: If you are concerned about getting customers to your photography business, don’t be! I have you covered there and have compiled a course on just that skill!
Having customers or NO customers can make or break you within weeks (sometimes less). My course (at this link) makes it easier and takes you through the whole process of getting and KEEPING customers for a photography business.
I hope this has been of some help to you.
PS. I really want you to understand that you must plan to make a profit. Don’t be like so many and get taken to the cleaners … so to speak!