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I might have the venture out and say that the starting a business part of starting a photography business is hands down the hardest thing for most people to do. It is much simpler to take pictures of people and have them pay you some money than it is to determine your business model, write up contracts, get legal with the state, pay taxes and get insurance. These things are even more difficult to do if you are in your beginning stages and barely earning anything from your shoots.
I would even venture to say that there are a LOT of individuals out there claiming to be running as a business when they are not and this can be extremely detrimental to not only themselves, but to the client as well.
I knew early on that if I wanted to take this photography stuff seriously, I needed to treat it seriously. Even though it can be a little daunting and a lot of information you come across can be confusing, I made myself into a legal business very quickly and feel much more comfortable than I am sure I would if I hadn't taken those steps.
I began by registering my business with the city that I live in. I had to get an EIN number, register as a sole proprietor and open a business banking account. I got a business licence and signed up with the state to pay business taxes.
Soon after that I researched insurance companies and took out a policy to cover all my gear and liability insurance as well. Let me tell you the peace of mind that comes with that. Photography gear is NOT cheap and worrying about something breaking or getting stolen is just not worth it. Insurance coverage is essential for every photographer.
In addition to the legal aspects of starting a business, there is the business part of starting a business.
- What is your business model?
- What is your mission statement?
- Why are you in business?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What services do you want to provide?
- What products do you want to provide?
- What are you going to charge for all of this?
- What are your long term goals? How are you going to achieve them?
- How are you going to market yourself?
- How are you going to deal with disputes/problems?
- How much time are you willing to invest?
If you want to have a growing, sustainable business, you HAVE to ask yourself these questions. You simply can not wing it and hope for the best. That is a recipe for failure. I can guarantee that the majority (if not all) of the successful, sustainable photographers out there have thought through these questions and know where they are going. They have goals they are working towards. They increase their skills and experience. They do not become stagnant.
While I know I have a long way to go to growing this business of mine into something that is a well functioning, stable business I feel as if I am off to a very good start. I have goals and aspirations that I am constantly working towards. I am challenging myself not only to become a better photographer but a better business woman.
I am jazzed to see what the future holds.