“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,” Mike Tyson. Sometimes life is the one throwing the jabs.
You may have just started, transitioned your hobby to a career, or perhaps you’re reevaluating your business. While “be successful” is a nice affirmation, it’s nowhere near a plan. The old adage is “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Here is an 11-step questionnaire you can answer to build a business plan.
1. Define the Business
- What legal structure will you choose? Will it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation?
- Will you be at home or a studio (or maybe start at home and get a studio later)?
- What employees do you need to hire, or are you going to start as a solopreneur?
- What equipment do you need?
2. Find Your USP
A unique selling proposition or USP is the factor you present to the market that makes your service both different and better than your competition. Domino’s was famous for “your pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less. Or it’s free,” and M&M’s is “the chocolate that melts in your mouth not in your hands.”
- Examples for Photographer
- Cosplay specialist
- Every order gets free prints
- Free mounting for all prints
- Open 7 days a week, no appointments necessary.
- Same day proofing
- Session fees always waived
- The Black and White Specialist
- Themed Wedding Specialist
- Wall portraits specialist
Why are you a photographer?
3. Analyze Threats
- Who is your competition?
- What are your strengths compared to the competition?
- What areas do you have for growth?
- What happens if your equipment is lost, stolen, or damaged?
- What backup plans do you have if you lost your studio?
4. Aim for a Target Market
- Whom do you want to work with? Establish a buyer persona. Don’t just pick couples. Try millennials, college-educated, from a specific part of town… until you can see the people in your mind’s eye. If you aim for everyone, then you make no one feel special.
5. Market like a Madman
- What will be your primary source of new clients?
- Do you plan to advertise?
- How will your website, social media, email marketing, and SEO attract new clients?
6. Outline Your Operations
- How many sessions per day, per week, and per month?
- Where will you shoot?
- What is your workflow?
- Should you outsource any portion of your tasks?
- What is your sales process from booking to deliverable?
7. Price for Profit
- How much does it cost you in time, effort, and money to produce a sellable product or service?
- What is your pricing say about your quality? (perception is high-quality equals high-priced)
8. Polish Your Policies
- What will be your office hours, or do you work by appointment only?
- What are your terms of service?
- What’s your refund policy?
- Have you crafted a standard contract here’s how to build a wedding contract, or you can talk to an attorney?
- How do you manage image rights and copyright law?
- How do you protect your work?
9. Communicate Effectively
- How fast do you return inquiries (more than one business day is too long)?
- How do people contact you?
- How do you stay in touch with prospects and past customers for referrals (think about a CRM)?
10. Establish Goals
- What are your 6, 12, and 36-month goals?
- What skills do you need to learn to get better?
- What classes or continuing education can improve your earning potential?
- What books should you read to meet your goals?
- Whom should you network with?
- Do you have a mentor?
11. Forecast Financials
- How do your financial goals match your business goals for the next 6, 12, and 36 months?
- How does inflation, taxes, equipment amortization affect your numbers (may need to think about financial software or hiring a good accountant)?
- How much savings do you need as you build cash flow (6 months to a year of household expenses in savings can help you weather the first-year storms)?
Write a Business Plan
Answering these questions won’t guarantee your success, but you’ll be far more likely to succeed than your competitors who are just winging it.
Professional photographers plan and protect their businesses. Try our free watermark software SnapSentry to market your service and safeguard your photos today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a watermark?
A watermark is a superimposed, transparent message on a picture or image (usually a signature, stamp, or logo).
What are the steps to starting a photography business?
You can start by filling in this 11-step questionnaire to build your photography business plan doc before you spend a single dollar. Then you can create your business name, establish the business, buy needed equipment and supplies, make marketing materials, and market to potential clients.