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The Planning Stage
So far we have identified our photographic areas, business structure and taken care of all the other items necessary before we could seriously look at running a business. This stage is the planning stage, putting the meat on the bones of the idea and creating in effect the operational plan.
You have identified that your dream is a possibility, if you want it to be a part time job to fit alongside your current working and family commitments or whether you are ready to take the big step of quitting your job and go it alone.
We need to create two documents, a Business Plan and a Marketing Plan, although identified as two separate items in practice they need to be developed together because parts of each affect the other. Some people rather than having two documents will involve this and even more into a single business bible.
The Business Plan
A Business Plan is a document that outlines what your business is to be and how you are going to go about getting it operational and off the ground. For some aspects of this it will involve you in more in depth research and whilst doing this your ideas and strategies will change. Your Business Plan will become your Business Bible and if created correctly will develop and evolve once the business is up and running - see The Business Plan article on this.
The Business Plan will be used initially to get you going and if you feel it is necessary to get outside funding then it will be an essential document for this. Within The Business Plan you will be covering in outline your marketing strategy and give an idea of who your customers are, what prices you are going to charge etc.
Some other essential skills of running a business and some details of which should be included in the Business Plan are cashflow, the art of making sure money arrives before it is needed and you don't run out of cash and Budgeting which is the estimating of income and expenditure and the controlling of expenditure so that you don't spend more than you have. An article on buying wisely will also help in that it identifies ways to make your money go further. Other articles within the Controlling Costs sub-section has far more on ways to cut the cost of photographic equipment and getting around as well as much more.
Now remember running a business is more than just pointing the camera and shooting a picture, with any business, whether part time or full time a very large percentage of your time will be spent on marketing, getting your images/services to your customers. So the Number 1 task is marketing it. For this you have to carry out two tasks in more detail, identify who your competitors and customers are.
Marketing is a general term that includes public relations, advertising, direct mail, the appearance of your business for example letterheads, the development of show books, website, publications, price lists and more.
Putting together a Marketing Plan is an important task, it allows you to think about and identify the best and most cost effective ways of getting your message to your customer base, and therefore increasing your income and profit. See Marketing Plan for more details.
Many of use don't enjoy carrying out admin functions such as maintaining accounts, purchasing, paying the bills and a variety of form filling. We also have to maintain diaries and a range of other information, and while many do not plan this at the planning stage, ideally this would be done so that you can see how the entire business to run, as well as who is going to do each of the functions. Admin takes up more time than you anticipate, you have adverts to lay out, press releases to get out, a website to keep up to date, and you may need to respond not only to sales enquiries but a whole load of government and local council officials whose entire life evolves around creating more paper work with very little purpose. Time planning is an essential part but in this article the objective was to get you from the initial idea through to completion of the business plan.
In any business luck plays it's part, but the harder you work, and the better you plan, generally the luckier you become.
Having completed all we have here, you are in the position where the final decision needs to be taken, are you going to make your dream a reality!
Where to go next
You could go back to the beginning of this article and read through again following some of the links or you could take the link below which takes you to the Photography Business topic section.