What is the best advice for a first time entrepreneur?
Hi, I am just starting my own business. I have been involved in photography as a hobby for over a decade, but I now plan to turn it into a full time business. Being new to entrepreneurship, I am a little confused on where to start. I would appreciate any general advice to point me in the right direction. Thank you.
Start with a website. You need a website where you can display your work. Then work on getting people to it by attending networking events and through Digital marketing such as SEO.
The three things to do initially is:
1. Determine your unique sales proposition -- how are you different and better than your competition?
2. Do some break-even evaluation... if you are going to have heavy costs to start and/or on a fixed basis, project how long it will take to generate sales/revenue to equal and exceed your expenses. Make sure it is within a period of time that you have the cash on hand to cover it.
3. Make sure you have a plan -- even if a simple internal document. Although I recommend something a bit more formal, at least state where you want to be in 12 months in measurable terms and then what you need to accomplish to reach those goals. Then bring it back to 90 days and define goals and actions for that period, so that you will be totally focused.
Marketing is everything when you first start. I recommend that you watch this video to see the 3 marketing mistakes most business owners make. Go to this link: http://bit.ly/1diY1RP.
And lastly, check out NewBizExperts.com, as well as to go network like crazy, utilizing my free e-book on networking: bit.ly/NetworkingEbook
My short advice is to focus on customers and build history with them as much as you can.
Specially initial phase of start ups or individuals requires dependent floating with existing customers for some time building your relationships and resources till the time when you feel you are self sufficient to take risks for your independent business development.
But customer satisfaction and service quality should be at its best at this point when you are being judged as a new entrant trying to build your market.
First impressions are vital in your situation.
Best Of Luck
Sara, congratulations on your decision. It's always nice to hear someone commit to a potentially liberating way of forging their path.
My son just opened his own business after working for a company for 10 years. Here's what I told him.
Decide that this is more than just a change in jobs. Owning and growing a busines is serious stuff. Be committed to the journey and all that comes with it.
Map out your plan. As a business owner, your plan drives where you will put your time and resources. What you spend your time doing determines how successful you will become.
Establish monetary goals right off the bat. These goals should include the cost of running your bsuiness and eventually paying yourself. They should also include how you will drive your revenue (client acquisition, pricing, etc.)
Decide on a method of operating (your business model). Get the fundamental structure in place- licensing if needed, incorporation, branding, service offering, pricing, business collaterial (business cards), website and social media network.
Decide how you will promote your service. Go to school on your local competitors to find out what you should focus on that they do not do. In your industry, differentiation is essential.
Start developing your contacts- networking connections, potential referrals, places where recommendations are given for photography professionals. The more you establish your visibility and your approach, the faster you will be remembered.
Lastly, make sure you have funds to work with and live on. Getting a new business to a break even point takes much longer than people realize. Running out of money is one of the top reasons business owners go out of business. Either have it saved or have access to what you need until you can produce your own financial needs.
Sara, from my experience, it is best to start with a simple mission statement - that you want to keep making money by offering & using your photography skills. With this in place, you can start building your case with a "how" at every stage. Frankly, there are books on this topic and a tad bit difficult to elaborate the entire journey in a small para. So I think it is best to start simple and keep it simple all throughout.
The first thing to do is find your focus. Weddings, parties, business events, product shoots for marketing, portraits, etc. You may want to do all of these, but focusing on one and becoming the go-to photographer in your area for that particular need is what you want.
If you have some stock photography, then you can sell that photography on a variety of sites which can also be a good way to get your name out there. Here's a list: http://www.sitepoint.com/15-places-to-sell-your-photos/
Photography suits quite well with social media, so build your presence within the main social media channels, especially Instagram.
I want to say to you Congratulations, Also good luck.
I think all new entrepreneurs have to consider to 3 things.
1st is you need a passion to develop some wonderful things. Your business have to develop some value, your business make people surprised. You should find one to do this.
2nd one is to be different others. you and your business have to have some unique characteristics. It can be your competiveness advantage and business sustainability.
3rd one is your communication. You have to develop your communication everyday. I believe in you never do any lie and other wrong communication. People, who think about you, are your biggest advantage.
Finally, If it's very difficult for you to compete for your country or city, you can go to some developing countries. There are so many opportunities. You can bring some advantages from your country. I think it will be good experience for you.
Sara: Check out http://knowledge-transfer-academy.thinkific.com/courses/8-considerations-when-starting-a-business. It's free.
First of all consider your brand. Do you have a logo a portfolio and is your work professional? Then start with as much social media as humanly possible market the hell out of yourself. Start networking with people in your field, and attend networking functions in your area. Get good reviews on yelp or other review sites to gain traction in word of mouth.
If you mostly do weddings and events say, then present yourself that way. Look for wedding websites and become part of groups for that sort of thing. If you do liek portraits and things like that you might want to consider more private clients or corporate higher ups.
Ask yourself this question: What makes you better than anyone else out there? What makes your work better than using someones phone to snap a pic?
Present yourself like a professional - with high quality work. Put your best work on your site. If you need help with branding materials logo etc, I'm always available, feel free to connect.