One of the most integral parts of starting a photography business is putting together your business plan. It’s all well and good to have the desire for success, and the vision of where you see your business going, but most importantly you must have a plan – a photography business plan.
In a nutshell, your business plan provides you and your company with a clear direction. It is much like a navigational guide for a sailor, as it charts the course of your photography business. Your business plan becomes the road map that you and anyone who assists you refer to for planning the launch and growth of your business.
3 Reasons You Need a Photography Business Plan
- Applying for a loan
Should you ever need to get financing for your business or your photography equipment, banks and lending agencies require a written business plan. So you might as well be prepared early.
- To determine the capital
The prudent business owner attempts to forecast what expenses they may accrue and sets aside enough capital to reach their goals. In other words, you need money to run and support your photography business and it’s better to plan from the start than to come up short.
- To manage cash flow
Your photography business plan should include financial documents like an income statement and market forecast. It should help you pinpoint where your income will come from and where your expenses will go. A poorly managed vision of your cash flow is a quick route to business failure.
What Your Photography Business Plan Should Do
- Set the game plan
Your business plan should illustrate the – who, what, when, where, and how of your business. When starting out you most likely have a clear idea of your job, at least the part about being a photographer. You should also plan out the resources you need in regards to other people, equipment, storefront, locations, and marketing.
- Equalize your emotions
There will be moments of excitement, high energy, and passion when all seems to be going right with your photography business and there will be those times when you become frustrated, discouraged, and full of doubt. It’s all part of running a business. Your business plan works to bring your emotions back to reality and help you face your true objectives.
- Clearly define your purpose
Your photography business plan defines your intent, goals, and purpose for being in business. It is what you share with assistants, partners, spouses, basically anyone who will play a role in the operation and growth of your business. It also works to help you make the right decisions about your business and not venture in the wrong direction.
How to Write Your Photography Business Plan
When writing your photography business plan there are a few steps that you should follow. We will outline a few here and then provide you with productive resources to make your task easier.
Identify the need
This is the “why” part of your photography business. Clearly explain the need for your business or the problem that it solves. Often times this is where you develop your company’s mission statement, i.e. the reason for being in business.
Clearly identify your audience and who you see as your customer and then focus on what it is that you can provide them. You may wish to fine tune your market for example specializing in pet photography or portrait photography. Then identify your competition and what it is that sets you apart from them. This is the “why” would someone use your services instead of theirs.
Pinpoint your market
Much in the same way as you identify who your customer is, you must understand the market. You must do your best to measure the size and appetite of your market in order to ensure there is enough potential for growth and simply making sales.
This also paints a clear picture for targeted marketing efforts as you must know your market’s demographics, problems, buying habits, and language.
Create a budget
For many start-up business owners this can become a challenging part of your business plan. This is where you plan the amount of money you need to get started and then anticipate your future investment essentials. You need to determine if your pockets are deep enough to handle all expenditures of your photography business or if you will need to borrow in the form of loans from family, banks, or government agencies.
Making your business successful through your first two years will be critical so give plenty of thought to your money workflow. If necessary itemize in detail and break-down a month by month activity list. If at all possible, factor in a “worst case scenario” so that your photography business prospers.
When you set out to write your photography business plan it can be very helpful to use a template or guide which can assist you by asking those critical questions and providing step-by-step directions.
These are resources we particularly like:
Sample Photography Business Plan - A great beginner resource to help you get an idea on how your photography business plan should look and feel.
Business Planning Cookbook for Photographers - A great guide for envisioning and planning for a successful, sustainable photography business.
Business Plan Pro Complete – A favorite as it is easy to use, feature packed, and perfect for any startup wanting to put together a professional photography business plan. If you are looking for the perfect business planning software this is exactly what you need.
Writing a business plan need not be overwhelming, simply review these tips and check out one of the many template resources to get you started. Should you still be a bit uncertain about setting up the legal structure of your business be sure to read our article on legal structures for your photography business.
Plus for all startup photography business owners we strongly recommend that you check out Legal Zoom as they are a must-have resource for all things legal. We’ve used them for understanding how to form a business, get tax advice, and complete necessary documentation.