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Photography and Business
When it comes to photography, and to business, dedication and conviction is everything. Opening a photography business of any kind is a challenge and most think they are up to it until they try. I am not writing this to try and dissuade you, but I do want you to realize that opening a photography business is hard, making it successful is even harder. Before we look at tips for writing a pet photography business plan, here are some things that I took for granted when I first opened my photography business:
The business side of my photography company will be easy.
The reality of owning any business is that if you haven't done it before then there will be a large learning curve. Many people either forget or ignore the business side of their company simply because to many it isn't very fun. Very few people enjoy updating their financial records, or applying for tax breaks or doing any of the mundane things that come with running your business. If you can frame it in your mind now that these things need to get done and you allot time each week to get it done, then you already have a much better chance of surviving your first year as a business then the vast majority.
I will spend most of my time taking and editing photos.
When I opened my business I thought that my days would be taken up with shooting and my nights with editing. I was prepared to put in long hours doing what I love but I got frustrated with how much time was taken up with the everyday things that didn't involve shooting. Be prepared to spend less than fifty percent of your time shooting and editing. The rest will be taken up with advertising, contacting clients and perspective clients and in the beginning, getting your name out there.
Clients will rarely stand me up.
I never thought a client or model would stand me up, but it happens, and it happens a lot. Although this is a less likely situation with pet photography, it does happen. This is something that you should be ready for. It is frustrating but there is little you can do about it except try and reschedule with that client. Owning your own business can be very rewarding but also full of disappointment too, don't let the small defeats get you down.
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Pet photography can be big business. If you want a piece of that big business pie then you will need a well written pet photography business plan to help you on your way. Here are some tips on how to start your plan and get your business rolling.
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The pet industry is a huge market. Pets are often considered part of the family and people tend to spend a lot of money on their animals. Pet photography can be huge money in certain cities and very little in others. Before you think about focusing on a pet photography business plan you will need to study your market. Understanding the demand for your services, what kind of competition you will have in your region, what will attract clients in your area and how much money you can charge are all important things to consider when trying to build a profitable, long lasting business. Each of these things should be addressed in your business plan.
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A Pet Photography Business Plan
Every business plan is different but there are some aspects that are always the same and there are some things that are specific to a pet photography business plan that should be included. A business plan has a dual purpose: it is written to prove to investors that you, as a future business owner, have enough of an understanding about your business and what to do to make it successful, and it is also written to ensure that you look at every aspect of your business to help ensure its success. When starting your pet photography business plan, write out every question you can think of that has to do with opening your business and then answer them on paper. A photography business plan mostly has to do with money and little to do with photography. Where is the money going to come from? Where are the clients going to come from? These are two very important questions and two that have to be looked at in depth in your business plan. Is your money only going to come directly from clients or are you going to sell pet photos through stock agencies or directly to book and magazine publishers? Where are you going to advertise? What businesses in your area deal with pets and can help you gain a client base? All of these questions will need to be answered in your pet photography business plan as well.
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If you are writing a pet photography business plan then an understanding of your client base and your region are of vital importance. You will also be expected to have a full financial estimate of your first year or more.
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Understanding Your Region's Requirements
I have mentioned already that having a good understanding of your area's demand for pet photography is very important but I want to go a little deeper into the subject of supply and demand in your area. I also want to touch on the importance of knowing your region's specific requirements when applying for loans and grants for a new business.
When looking at your region, there are two very important questions you need to answer about money. The first is how much are you going to charge for your service? The second question is how many clients will you need on an annual basis to make the salary you expect to make? Many cities are too small to accommodate a photography company that solely does pet photography unless the owner only wants to work part-time. If you find that the numbers don't line up with the amount you want to earn in a year then you may need to add in another service like family portraits or wedding photography.
When applying for loans and grants, it is important to understand that every institution will have different requirements for application. Once your pet photography business plan is complete you will most likely need to add to, or remove, certain sections for each institution. This basically means a lot more hard work for each application you send out, but the end result, your own business, is well worth the added trouble.
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Understanding Your Clients
Knowing that you have a good grasp on what your clients want is important not only to you but to those lending you money. A financial institution or any independent lender wants to know that their money is going to a business that will be successful, and no business is successful without knowing their clients' needs. A candy store won't last long by trying to sell staplers to customers who wants suckers. There are three tips I can pass on in regard to understanding your clients. First, target your advertising to your clients. What works in your town? It might be billboard advertising, a local newspaper, or websites like Craigslist or Kijiji. Next, can you partner up with any other local businesses for deals? Word of mouth is great and partnering with other local companies can create a great buzz for your new service. Lastly, understand what your market will pay. I have mentioned this so often because it is so important. Clients will be turned off if you are charging too much, but if you are charging too little then your service will most likely be undervalued by clients.
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Getting Down to Business
When writing any business plan, not just a pet photography business plan, perspective business owners have to not only budget what they will need to start up the business but also look at how much it will cost to run the business. A cost analysis for the first year is typical but some institutions can ask for a five or ten year analysis as well. This is good for both you and the lender. When doing a cost analysis it is important to ensure that it is realistic. Lenders can smell a bloated analysis a mile away, and if they think you are being unrealistic in the amount of money you will make and spend then they won't deal with you.
These tips should help you build and flesh out your pet photography business plan. Loaded with a good business plan, you are well on your way to opening your doors to both two legged and four legged clients.