CHAPTER 4-: This is the fourth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Photography Business.” – Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting a photography business. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample photography marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for photography businesses. In this article, we will be providing an in-depth sample photography business plan template.
There is a common saying that you need money in order to make money. In business terminology, this means that you require a set of capital investments in order to ensure that your business is up and running. In other words, you need to secure funding for your business. The word “funding” is a matter of fact one of the most common things that you can hear coming out of the mouth of any aspiring entrepreneur. The reason for that is because funding is a rarity and is not easily available.
This does not however mean that the sources of funding are hard to find and are few and far between. It basically implies that availing funds and finding the right people who are interested in funding your business can prove to be a monumental challenge that you may or may not be able to overcome during the initial stages of your career in entrepreneurship.
The Need for a Business Plan for Photographers
As important as acquiring funds are, there is something else that you need to worry about first before trying to chase investors for your business. One of the preliminary requirements of initiating a photography business is having a concrete and comprehensive business plan for your upcoming enterprise. Having a business plan is not just a fancy option that you can choose to take or reject. Instead, it is a necessity in order for you to make sure that your business taps into a gold mine of abundant investors and funds.
In other words, making a business plan is a prerequisite to guaranteeing funds for your business. You cannot expect the investors to find your business credible unless you have a self explanatory business plan that clearly exhibits all your strategies and policies for attaining success in the industry. Creating a business plan is the best way to convince your investors and beneficiaries that your business has what it takes to not only survive the competition but also thrive in it.
i. A Way to Convince the Money Lenders
For example, if you are approaching a bank with the hope of convincing them to grant you a considerable amount of funding for your business in the form of a bank loan, then the onus is on you to come up with a business plan that is impressive and unique enough to let the bank official know that your photography business will have proper direction heading into the future and has all the potential needed to succeed in the modern business sphere. If you consider your business to be a long term project, then the business plan is nothing more than simply the blueprint of the project.
Without the blueprint being presented first, you cannot expect any project to receive approval from the higher ups. In the same fashion, a business is not likely to receive any funding from any form of investor unless you have a business plan to show them exactly why your business deserves their money. In very simple words, it is solely your responsibility as the future owner of a photography business to convince them that their money will be wisely spent in your business and will not be wasted in the least bit.
ii. A Way to Drive Your Business Forward
The purpose of creating a business plan however is not restricted to ensuring the availability of funds. There is much more to this plan than what meets the eye. Every business needs a constitution or a guide to abide by. As much as articles and books can help you to develop your business according to the fundamental principles and practices of exemplary entrepreneurship, there is hardly anything that compares with a business plan when it comes to providing a sense of direction to your business.
A business plan is created with the intention of guiding a business or steering it along the path of success and prosperity. It acts as the backbone of the business and helps you to mould your future enterprise into a proper structure. You will find yourself in countless situations where your head is running low or empty on ideas on how to pull your business out of a trench that you or your photography professionals have pushed it into. This trench can be a symbol of financially difficulty or any other predicament that grips a business and poses a threat to its success or existence. That is when you need to go back to your business plan and find the right formula to redemption and recovery.
iii. A Comprehensive Guide
Your business plan should contain all the information necessary to teach you how to keep your business relevant and afloat in this hostile and ever so competitive financial world. In very simple terms, the business plan is supposed to serve as a guidebook for your business that you can lay back on during times of distress and during times when you need to boost your money making capacity. It will act as a constant reminder of the principles and the standards that you have devised for your business.
In order for your business to develop and succeed, you need to adhere to the principles and standards that you have created for your photography business. Deviating from this act of adherence will force you to lose your way and become flustered. The business plan should have the goals, aims and ambitions for your business outlined clearly. If you do not have your mind fixed on these goals and aims as the business owner, then your business will become wayward and you will struggle to cope with the immense pressure that the competitive industry will impose on your shoulders.
Next thing you know, your business will begin to crumble under the pressure and your lack of attachment with the business plan will put you in no position to hold your business together in these difficult times. In short the absence of a business plan will make it much easier for you to incur mammoth losses due to a lack of proper direction and within a few months or so, you will be likely to file for bankruptcy. Such is the great significance of having a concrete business plan.
Why Photography Businesses Need a Business Plan
One of the biggest mistakes made by budding entrepreneurs who are looking to start a photography business is assuming that there is no need for a business plan in such an organization. In their eyes, a photography business is more of an institution of art, and therefore expertise behind the camera alone is sufficient to yield dividends in the industry. This is not true.
Regardless of whether the service is in the form of a marketing consultancy or in the form of wedding photography, the significance of a business plan does not change with alterations in the product or commodity upon which the business will be founded. If anything, a photography business is more in need of a business plan than other types of businesses owing to the fact that it is easy for the owners of such an organization to be confused by the blurring of the lines between the art and the business of photography. The two must be kept separated from one another and dealt with distinctly. A business plan ensures helps you to do exactly that by keeping your attention fixed on the business side of things.
Writing a Business Plan for your Photography Business
Now that you have acquired a clear idea about why a business plan is vital to the existence of your photography business, you need to learn about the various aspects of a business plan and how to create one. If you have never created a business plan before or even seen one, then it is acceptable for you to think that a business plan is basically a very long essay that justifies your need for someone else’s money.
However, that is not the case. A business plan is not just plain text when you explain why our business is different, but rather it is a detailed piece of information that is structured, organized and compartmentalized into various segments that deal with individual features of your business. As diverse as the information in a business plan may be, you need to remember that all of these information is included for the sole and primary purpose of providing clear direction with which your business can proceed up the steps in the industry ladder.
A clear direction is the key to a profitable business. The following is a list of 6 elementary steps that guides you on how to create your ultimate business guidebook i.e. the business plan. Follow these 6 simple steps religiously and you will never need another veteran in the field instructing you on how to conduct your business although you are recommended to listen to their advice every once in a while to make sure that you are not missing out on anything.
1) Primary Objectives of Your Business
This is the part of the business plan that tells the reader exactly what your business is all about. It acts as a form of introduction for your business. You let them in on the goals and ambitions of your business and introduce them to the objectives upon which your business is driven to success every single day. This section should ideally not be any bigger than a short paragraph that portrays the overall intention for your business and provides a simple but out of the box mission statement that should impress most readers, especially the people in the bank. This is not the place for you to add any fluff or redundant information. Writing a business plan is not similar to writing a book, therefore the first section of the business plan does not have to contain detailed information about your business.
Keep it short and to the point. The last thing you want is for the people who are interested to invest in your business to become bored with the detailed explanations of your objectives. A lot of budding entrepreneurs overdo their mission statement, so be extra cautious about not going there. Aim for clarity and brevity. The purpose of outline your objectives is simply letting them know why you have embarked on the journey of starting your own photography business and how you intend to deal with the challenges lie ahead.
2) Summary or a Shortened Version of Your Business Plan
Your entire photography business cannot act as one whole inseparable entity. Rather, it should be viewed as an accumulation of various segments and sections. In the business plan therefore, you are required to provide a brief explanation of all the different segments and sections that constitute your business. Once again, brevity is the key here. You are not looking to write a 10,000 word essay. A concise and blunt summary will suffice as long as your words have clarity.
a) The Concept-: The first thing that you need to mention is the concept of your business where you will tell the readers about the origin of the idea of forming a photography business. You are also required to fill them on what kind of customers you are seeking to serve through your photography business. Three or four statements to describe the whole thing should be enough.
b) The Product and the Service-: This section should be dedicated to information about the kind of products and services that you will be providing to create a steady flow of revenue and income. Besides naming the photography products and services, you should briefly explain how you are aiming to provide the products and services that you have mentioned.
c) Market Research-: In this section, you do not have to provide a detailed explanation of all the various marketing strategies that you are looking to employ. Simply tell the readers in a nutshell how you are planning to reach your customers. If you want, you can place an example or two that demonstrates your marketing knowledge and research capabilities.
d) Funding-: Now this is the section that will be of great interest to the people who can finance your business. Talk about the initial funding and how you plan to secure it. Mention all the other funds that you require to pay for the expenses in the first year of operations and the kind of earnings that you are aiming for within the first year of your business operations. Do not leave out important information while writing this particular section. With that being said, do not go overboard with your explanations and try to be as concise as possible without coming off as a business owner who is in dire need for money.
3) A Description of Your Photography Business
A business contains a number of different core activities that define it. Photography businesses are certainly no exceptions whatsoever. In this section, provide a list of all the core activities that will allow you to keep your business up and running smoothly. After that, you can provide the name of your business and details on other associated information such as the location of the business and its identity in the online word, especially in the social media.
Once this is out of the way, you can concentrate on letting the readers know about your future ambitions, as in where you expect your business to be in the next few years. Always, try to be reasonable with your predictions and try not to overestimate or underestimate the success of your business. You will also be required to provide information on the structure that your business will follow and the reasons for which you have chosen this particular structure.
4) Description and Explanation of SWOT- Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats of Your Photography Business.
This is perhaps the most important section of your business plan since the information here will come in handy for years to come during your stay in the industry. As the name suggests, this part of the business plan will deal with the strengths and the weaknesses that your photography business will posses and will also take into account the various opportunities that are available for your business as well as the threats that may endanger your business if not dealt with appropriately.
It is important to note that honesty is the best policy when it comes to outlining the advantages and disadvantages of your business. Exaggerating the strengths or hiding the weakness will do you no good, and will only serve to confuse you when you will refer to the business plan later on. In other words, lying in the business plan is the same as lying to your own self and your workers.
Being honest in these areas will help you understand your shortcomings and deficiencies in management ability. A lack of understanding of your own competencies will turn out to be a stumbling block to improvement. For example, if you are not aware of your inability to quickly adapt to the latest trends in photography such as the “fish-eye” view, then you will fall behind your competitors and fail to dominate the market of your niche.
5) Assess and Analyze Your Market
SWOT analysis and Market analysis pretty much go hand in hand. All your strengths and weaknesses are relative to the prevalent demands, requirements and trends in the market of the niche photography upon which your business is based. When you are writing about the market analysis in your business plan, it is important for you to show that you have a better understanding of your clients than they have of themselves. The market must be described in the following terms.
- Who are the target audience?
- Where is the target audience located?
- What is the size of the target audience in a location you have marked?
- What is the purchasing power of the target audience?
- How stable is the market and where do you see the market in 10 years?
- What factors influence the target audience?
- What is the price sensitivity?
- What is the competitive edge and how can you earn it?
6) Sales and Production Targets
This section of the business plan should be fairly easy to state and must be created with a straightforward approach. When you are running a photography business, you should have an estimate of the number of clients that you are willing to satisfy on a monthly or yearly basis. This serves as the target that your employees will strive to meet.
Other Aspects of a Photography Business Plan
The above mentioned 6 steps are absolutely essential in creating a business plan. You can cover other features of your business in the business plan including the growth projection, the personnel policies, the administration structure formation and the advertisement policy. Creating a business plan is certainly not a one-time affair. It is something that you have to incorporate in your business practices on a daily basis.