Starting your own business can be one of the most stressful times in your life. I know it was for me. You aren’t sure where to begin or what the chances of success will be. What do you name your business? What kind of business do you establish? How do you know what is the right course to follow? In all this hustle and bustle going on inside of your head, there is good news — there are people out there who have done it before you. And if you are contemplating starting your own photography business, you already have the passion, motivation, and skill to succeed.
One of the most important things to determine is the actual type of business you want to own. I chose to have a sole proprietorship because of the benefits involved. There is an astounding amount of resources out there about the different types of businesses you can create. Make sure to take the time to research all of those aspects. You need to make sure that what you choose is going to fit your needs.
While you are doing your research, think about what you are going to call your business. This is step two. I conduct business under the name of Kethuvim Photography. When choosing your name, make sure that it represents who you are at the core of your business’ competency and reflects your personality a bit too. Once you have decided on the type of business you are going to create and the name, register with the state. There is a minimal fee for registering your business with the state but it can be done online. Go to your state website and it will direct you where to go and give you the fee information. Make sure that you do not overlook registering your business; it’s what makes you a legal business entity.
After you have your business registered, talk to an attorney and a certified CPA. Why is this important? An attorney will help you with all of your releases, terms and conditions and answer any questions you may have; the CPA will assist you in making sure that you follow all of the tax laws that are associated with your business. You will want to have the following releases drafted: family, minor, adult and property. The releases allow you to use the photographs in whatever way you choose. It will also cover you when taking pictures of people under the age of eighteen. It is extremely important to follow all of the laws associated with taking photographs of people. Your attorney can help you grasp all of this information — there is a lot of it. Before you take anyone’s photograph as a business entity, make sure that you have all of your releases signed and dated. Your terms and conditions (T&C) is the actual contract that your clients will sign with you. My T&C is on the back of my invoice. You can choose to do it this way, or have a separate piece of paper. Do note that if the T&C is not signed, than the client has no legal obligation to follow through with your agreement.
At this point in the process, it’s time to market your fledgling business. My husband and I have a website as our primary method of marketing. Most people today want to see what you can do before they talk to you, so having a website is a must. If you are like me and know nothing about websites, I have good news here too! There are several companies out there today that charge you an upfront design fee with a small monthly charge to create and maintain your website for you! Make sure to look around to ensure that you are getting the best deal. You will want to have information about yourself, frequently asked questions, a gallery, your contact information and your pricing. After that, what you choose to have on your website should be based on your own creative flare. Make sure that it shows who you are, just like your name does because that is how you will get clients. At Kethuvim, our biggest selling point is that we treat our clients like friends and family. People really seem to respond to that personal touch. You can always do more marketing than just a website, but it will get expensive. Pleasing your clients is the best advertising you have. People like to talk; use this to your advantage!
The most important part of owning your business is you. Without you, it would not exist. Without your talent, it would not exist. My biggest fear when I started out was that I would fail. For the first year, I did fail. In today’s economy, photographs are put on the back burner because it is not a need. If you face that problem, don’t give up. This is not a pipe dream or something that you can not accomplish. It takes time, dedication, patience and support for the ones you love. If you truly want to make your dream a reality, do it. Don’t give up and don’t give in. There will people who tell you that you can’t succeed, but you can. And most importantly, you will.