CHAPTER 5-: This is the fifth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Photography Business.” – Once you have a business plan in place, you will be in a far better position to hunt for funds and finances. The problem with this hunt, as mentioned before, is that it is extremely difficult to have your funding please accepted.
Once again, it would be unfair to state that there aren’t sufficient funding opportunities available for start-up entrepreneurs looking to embark on a photography business journey. As a matter of fact, people or beneficiaries are always looking out for investment opportunities. Start-ups are seen as a symbol of potential for growth in the industry, and hence most business people and money hoarders would be foolish to think that start-ups cannot yield dividends in the long run.
Getting Funds Is No Piece of Cake
Despite people’s affinity towards investment opportunities, you will find it extremely difficult to secure funds for your start-up photography business. Even with a concrete business plan in place, you may not attract a lot of investors. There is certainly no doubt about the fact that funding a venture and living your business ream is the biggest objection to starting a business in the first place. Many people who aspire to become entrepreneurs are deterred by the steep challenges that are put in front of them when looking for a way to finance their business.
A lot of people have insanely creative ideas about starting a business, but those ideas all get flushed down the toilet or catch cobwebs when there is an absence of funding. As big as this obstacle is, it would be quite wrong to assume that “luck” is the only thing that you need to have funds in your hands. If you are ambitious enough and persistent enough and if your ideas can really make a difference in the industry, you are sure to secure funding for your photography business.
Innovation Generates Investments
Commitment to the industry alone is not enough to get you across the line. You need a little bit of something extra, something that is not found amongst most entrepreneurs. You need to acquire and master the ability of being innovative. Under such circumstances, it becomes imperative for you to think out of the box and try something new. You must keep digging till you stumble across new and innovative pathways for acquiring funding.
As the phrase goes, you have to create something out of nothing to make sure that your business gets up and running. You must have the ability to contribute to your mental capital, your talent capital and your social capital as well. What people are looking for nowadays are entrepreneurs who have the ability to incorporate value into the society through their business. The money game is no longer valid.
If you are going to convince people that your business will turn out to be a huge money maker in a short period of time, then they will see your business as nothing more than a gamble. Therefore, instead of portraying your business as a money machine, depict it as a medium of change in the society. Only then, will people see your business as a guarantee of having their money utilized properly. Remember, social value should be your aim when you are out there looking for money.
Do Not Put All Your Assets on the Line
There are countless ways in which you can secure funds and some of the best sources of funding will be discussed later on. But before you can learn about the best places to secure your finances, you need to know about the sources of funding that you should avoid if you truly want your business to succeed. The first one among them is you yourself. Although most entrepreneurs look for outside investments or external investments coming in from other people, some entrepreneurs actually make the mistake of literally jeopardizing their lives by putting all their assets and savings on the line for the initiation of a business. This sounds like a horrible idea and is one in every essence of the word “horrible”.
Regardless of how confident you may be in materializing your brilliant ideas and converting them into revenue and profit from your business, you can never be too sure about the success of your business. The risk of failure, however little, is ever present. You cannot under any circumstances ignore the risk of failure and bankruptcy and leave everything that you have ever possessed in your life on the line just for your business. This is where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong in the sense that they fail to separate their personal life from their business life. Those who do so, often end up incurring mammoth losses as they are constantly under the pressure of holding on to the assets that they have sold off or directly invested into their business.
Do Not Always Rely On Friends and Family
Another place where you should not ideally look for funds is your family or friends’ pockets. Let’s face it, no one cares about you in the world more than your family or your friends, but that does not give you the right to solicit them into joining your venture. Leave it up to them whether they want to invest in your business or not. Their investment should be based on the merit of your photography business rather than the personal relationship that they have with you.
Blending personal relationships with business management or ownership can hardly ever be a good thing. If something goes wrong in your business, you run the risk of making your family or friends lose their money. This may eventually lead to rifts in the relationships, and there have been several cases where children had to sever ties with their parents due to financial complications stemming from business failures.
This is even worse than putting your own assets on the line. If you end up being bankrupt and losing all your assets, then at least you can count on your family to rescue you from the legal battles that you will be bound to face. If it is your own family or friend whose money goes down the drain because of your sinking ship of a business, then you will be left in a world of trouble when dealing with bankruptcy.
9 Innovative Ways to Secure Startup Funds for your Photography Business
Coming back to the concept of being innovative with your fund acquisitions, you need to make a shortlist of all the ways in which you can secure the funds. Never count on one or two fund sources. Always look for multiple options so that you have the luxury of banking on something else in the case that one doorway for finances shuts down. It’s all about spreading your eggs across a number of different baskets.
With that being said, you cannot go around looking for sources of funding left, right and centre. As desperate as your situation may be, you need to be selective to a certain degree when choosing the avenues of funding. You certainly do not want to put yourself in a position where you are taking money from the wrong person who may actually turn out to be a major threat to the existence, let alone the success, of your business.
The following list describes 9 ways in which you can secure funds for your photography business. They may not be the most conventional methods, but they sure are effective. Besides, entrepreneurs are often heavily rewarded if their unconventional practices yield dividends.
1) Arrange a Fundraiser
Seeing the word fundraiser probably made you raise your eyebrow. After all, fundraisers are more associative with charity events and presidential election campaigns, rather than enterprise funding. Nonetheless, if you have a powerful case, a highly impressive business plan and have the advantage of being a first time entrepreneur, then you are likely to succeed in convincing people that you are the kind of person that they should sympathize with and support in your venture.
Make sure that you let people know that you are actually going to make a real difference in their lives through your photography business. Your approach should be blossoming with optimism and studded with honesty. That is the only way that people buy into your business philosophy and take part in your fundraiser campaign.
You do not have to arrange a fancy dinner to raise the funds. You could probably invite people to play around in a bowling alley and simply pay a little extra for the bowling games. Several thousand dollars can be easily earned with this simple fundraiser scheme.
2) Discard Your Unwanted Belongings
Although it was previously mentioned that you should try not to use your personal assets to fund your business, but an exception can be made for the case of old belongings that you are no longer in need of. The idea is to never put your precious assets, such as your house on the line for your business, but to always look to make some additional cash by selling your old possessions or assets that you no longer need. Back in the old days, the channels for selling used goods were fairly limited and it was not really a reliable option to secure funds.
Nowadays, with ecommerce websites springing up from every direction, it is extremely easy to sell your used or unused unwanted belongings online. You will be genuinely surprised at the number of people who will be willing to buy your old goods. Most of them are interested in paying a good price for the goods as well. By selling stuff that you think are “junk”, you can easily make around $5000 to $7000 which will come in handy when starting your business. As the saying goes, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Since you will be starting a photography business, you could even finance the purchase of new cameras by selling the old ones.
3) Sell Your Knowledge
You have to be incredibly knowledgeable about the photography industry before you can plan to start your own business. If you have attained that necessary knowledge, then you can use that to facilitate the finances for your business. There are plenty of people out there who do not even possess a modicum of the knowledge that you have, and hence you can quite easily impart this knowledge in the form of writing (blogs, journal articles etc.) or in the form of tuition for the purpose of earning a fast buck.
Although the primary purpose of acquiring the knowledge was to help you become a better entrepreneur who can make an amazing photography establishment, there is absolutely no harm in utilizing your knowledge in helping others and earning some much needed funds for your business in the process.
4) SBA Loans
SBA loans are a fairly easy and uncomplicated way of securing funds for your photography business. These loans that are designed for small businesses can be availed from local banks or credit unions. By registering your business as a member of the Small Business Association, you can increase your chances of attaining loans from the banks.
As a matter of fact, you are 50-85% more likely to receive loans from the bank if you have the SBA on your side. The monetary amount that is given out in loans may not be incredibly huge but you can be guaranteed to receive at least tens of thousands of dollars. In certain cases, you c an even earn up to 6 figures in loans. However, it is preferable to not acquire an overwhelming amount in loans because the more you take from the bank, the more you have to pay off at one point or another in the future.
Grants are so good that they will restore your faith in the possibility of “free money”. Many a times, government or private organizations focus their attention on a particular sector of an industry where there is scope for commendable development. In your case, if a non profit organization or a government organization may consider the photography niche that your business will be dealing with as an area that could benefit hugely from a grant. A grant is what it sounds like, a sum of money that is handed out to a business.
In order to be eligible for a grant, you need to come up with a solid business plan that appeals to those who have the power to grant. You also have to be very meticulous with your grant application as any irregularities will immediately disqualify you from being eligible. Before you apply for a grant, you are recommended to study an extensive guide that educates readers on how to make the most of a grant opportunity. It is worth noting that grants are not given at one go. The money is handed out in installments, and based on the progress of your business the flow of grants will be continued and quite possibly increased.
6) Seek for Angel Investors
The influence of angel investors is comparable to divine intervention from angels themselves. So who are these so called angel investors and why are they seen in a special light? Angel investor is basically a title that is bestowed upon a retired or semi retired entrepreneur who has had tremendous or notable success in a field of business, in this case the photography business, and is deeply interested in remaining involved with the development and growth of businesses in the industry where he or she has achieved monumental prosperity. Their involvement comes in the form of providing funds or investing in start-up photography businesses.
This is indeed a “heavenly” source of funding since you are not only benefited financially but also have the advantage of taking a leaf out of the book of these vastly experienced veterans in the field. In simpler words, they will share with you their money and their expertise, two things that will prove to be instrumental in the formation of your business during the early stages. If you thought that was not alluring enough, then you will be elated to know that the investments are endowed in the 6 figure range. A single 6 figure investment can be enough to allow your business to make a glorious entry into the photography industry.
7) Freelance Photography
If you are really in need of funding, then the safest option for you to is to rely on your own money making ability. Assuming that you are a professional photographer who is trying to make the jump into the world of entrepreneurship, you can work some extra hours on a daily basis for months at a stretch prior to opening your photography business. This will allow you to pile up some savings and use them to finance your business.
At the end of the day, it’s not really how much you make as an individual contractor, but rather how much you save, that counts. Even after you have established your business, you can continue working as a freelance professional photographer to make sure that your business is well covered financially. This strategy will only pay off if you possess the set of skills needed to land the major clients in the world of freelance photography. In other words, you have to be an extraordinary professional photographer to start your own business through your own funds.
8) Collaborate with Non Profit Organizations
One of the advantages of trying to enter the world of business through the channel of photography is that it allows you to collaborate with non profit organizations. Just because you are establishing a company that is driven by profit does not mean that you cannot partner up with “non-profits”. There are plenty of reasons why a non profit organization may be interested in funding your photography business. Among them, perhaps the most common reason is your ability to portray the underprivileged through your work of photography.
If you are willing to incorporate urban photography in your portfolio and showcase the struggles of the less fortunate, then non-profit organizations or charitable organizations are likely to finance this project and other aspects of your business as well. Collaborating with a non profit organization will not only allow you to secure funds but also increase the reputation of your business in the industry. Since non profit organizations are widely recognized, you can attract more customers and more investors by flaunting your partnership with a non profit organization. This puts you in a win-win situation.
9) Business Plan Competitions
Creating a solid, seamless and attractive business plan will not only put you in an advantageous position to secure funds, but it may just guarantee funds for your photography business. There are plenty of business plan competitions that are held round the year, and with a well thought out and unique idea in place, you stand the chance of earning 5 figures or more by winning the competition. Besides the decent sum of money, you will also be exposed to a plethora of networking opportunities that will streamline the growth of your photography business.