Yeah, I used Photopreneur, and yeah it’s not a word, no I didn’t coin it, but hey, we’re all rebels right! Well at least you do have to have a rebellious nature to even consider quitting your job and becoming an entrepreneur. This is a practical look at what it will take to go from a hobbyist or part-time photographer to a full time photography business owner. This post is more about the understanding that you will need to have in order take the steps to live your life doing the thing that you’re most passionate about. So lets jump right into it.
1.Know what you want to do.
As in any business this will always be the very first step. And I guess this is obvious, based on the fact that you’re reading this on a photography website, but the photography industry isn’t just about people that take pictures, yeah they’re the reason why the industry has legs, but there’s multiple ways to make money within the industry.
You may think that you want to be a rock-star photographer, but that may not be the path for you, maybe you’re supposed to be the best photo album maker, or camera strap maker in the industry. Who knows, but rest assured, there are billions of dollars made yearly off photography and the related products created to bolster the industry.
So figure out exactly where you fit in, and try to fill the void.
2. Know if your market is viable.
You can be the best photographer in Tupelo, Mississippi, but if the consumers in Tupelo don’t value photography, then the market that you’re in will never be able to sustain your business. If you find your self in this situation, you need to figure out where the most viable market is located, and then figure out if you can penetrate that market
Maybe you’ll need to set your base of operation within a general circumference of the most viable market and be able to adapt to it as opposed to trying to set up in a town that isn’t going to use your product.
3. Know your demographic.
After figuring out your market, then you need to do as much research as you can to make sure that opening in that market can get you to where you’re trying to go.
One thing to consider is, is your product as good or better than the product that is currently available in that demographic.
If your product is similar, then you will end up having to undercut the prices of your competitors to scale your business. If it is better, then you can charge the same price or more than your competitors and not have to worry too much.
Then ask yourself, what would make you stop supporting a business and support a new business that does the same thing? The answer will be one of these two things, (not including bad customer service, that’s a given).
a. The new business has a similar product, for a lower price
b. The new business has a better product for the same price
These are things that you need to understand before you decide to open your business in a new market.
4. Know how much money you need to sustain your current lifestyle.
After you’ve learned the industry demographics of your community then you can factor in how much you can charge in the area. This will help you understand how many clients you would need book in order to make a certain amount of money.
You might like to go for Starbucks every morning before work, maybe grab a soup and sandwich from Panera bread for lunch, or maybe even dine out a few times a week. Whatever it is, it costs money, and if these are things that you are comfortable with doing, then taking the leap into becoming a full time photographer will be seen as a daunting task, because you’ll be afraid to leave those comforts behind.
5. Know what you are willing to give up if you cant sustain that lifestyle.
You have to be able to identify the things that you will give up if your business does not make enough money to sustain your current lifestyle. Then prepare to live below that. Once you know those things then you can plan to eliminate certain things in order to keep your business afloat.
6. Know your bare minimum.
Now you need to figure out, what is the bare minimum that you’re willing to make to keep your business from becoming a statistic. What are you willing to sacrifice beyond the creature comforts that you’ve been accustomed to living with. The life of an entrepreneur may put you in a situation where you have to decide if you want cable or should you pay your electric bill, or between paying your mortgage or paying something on your car note. I’ve met people that are willing to eat Ramen noodles three times a day five times a week to make their dream come true.
Are you one of those people?
7. Plan the Leap.
You always hear people talking about taking a leap of faith into entrepreneurial-ism but the truth of the matter is that if that leap isn’t planned out, it will usually end in a disaster. Its one thing to fail, but its an entirely different thing to end up in a disastrous situation, because you didn’t plan.
The thing with entrepreneurial planning is, that no matter how well you plan, things can always go south, but if you factor that into it, then you’ll be prepared for it.
This is why business plans are needed! A business plan will break down the minimal amount of capital needed to sustain your business over a 3-5 year period. You don’t need a full business plan to get started, unless you’re looking for a loan or an investment, but you do need to know what your expenses will be on a month to month basis in order to keep your doors open.
Planning could also incorporate saving as much money as you can before you make that leap to make sure that you have a enough money to live a comfortable enough lifestyle without having your utilities turned off or or ending up getting your car repossessed or home foreclosed on.
There’s a statistic that says, nine out of ten businesses fail, and without knowing these things, you will end up in the nine out of ten failures, nine out of ten times. Some people get lucky and beat the odds but that’s the exception to the rule, not the rule.
Although this stat has been used for some time now when you actually dig deeper into it, you realize that there has never been a time limit put on the failure of a business. Therefore you can open a business today, and go out of business 5 years from now and it’ll be viewed upon as one of the “failed businesses”.
My question to you would be, if you we’re able to quit your job today and open a business be successful at it for up to five years would you? If not, then you’re not really an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurs are willing to live the dream for as long as the dream lives in them.” – Byron Woulard
What that says is that as long as you want to be independent and not work for anyone, then you’ll never see a business closing as a failure, you’ll view it as time spent pursuing your passion, and time spent learning what to do and what not to do.
So go ahead, give yourself a head start by planning to be in business and take that leap of faith, you’re already doing it part time, whats the logical next step!