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.
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.
First, lets get the congratulations out of the way..... CONGRATS!
Ill keep my answer short by passing along a short, but vital piece of advice that was given to me when I first made the plunge into starting my own business.
"Never work for less than you are worth"
It is tempting to take work where you can get it, and sometimes, yes, you will come down on price to get a job. However, stay true to the value of your service and hold steady on your quotes as much as possible.
I have found those are the most stringent on price are also those who are the most difficult to work with, so what typically happens is you get less revenue and you spend much more time on that client than normally.
Remember, not getting a job only allows you more time to focus on other leads or complete other projects, do not look at it as a negative all the time.
Good luck out there!
An important key is to know yourself as well as you can and to express yourself fully through your business. You have unique gifts and talents that only you can deliver, and which you will love to deliver. When you build your business around what you love, you engage your creativity, make yourself unique, and find yourself attracting those who enjoy these things too, which makes for fun, loyal customers. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on the money, rather than what will make you happy. If you're happy in your business (assuming it's run with reasonable efficiency), you will attract and keep customers, which will take care of the money.
When you design your business around who you are and what you love, you have no direct competition because no one can be you as well as you. So, find your niche, which has to do with what you love. Can you offer products or services that can be sold over the Internet, which is great for relatively inexpensive niche marketing e.g. information products with awesome photography?
It's up to your creativity, which in unlimited right?
Free wheel a little as to what would be an inspiring vision for your business, but do this in the context of what would be your ideal life. For example, would you like to travel more, and can photography support this (e.g. a travel blog).
If you allow yourself to design your ideal life, then see how your passion for photography can fit into this and support your life vision. There are probably many ways it can do so.
By doing so, you will be designing your business from the inside out, from what will make you feel good, which is perhaps the most important ingredient in attracting what and who you need to fulfill your vision.
I have a consulting client at present who is an artist who came up with a unique design for an in-store display, which is truly a thing of beauty. he didn't understand intellectual property and didn't patent his invention, and there is a Chinese firm that is knocking his product off, but his customers stay loyal to him despite his high prices because his products have his artistry which the Chinese knock offs don't. His business is growing fast now because he has one client in particular that is a major international firm that loves his product and is rolling it out around the world. They could just as easily (and at far less cost) buy from the Chinese, but love his product and creativity and have plans for millions of dollars of orders.
Do what you love Sara, and others will literally feel that and, it seems, that includes even corporate buyers.
Best of luck Sara, and if you need any help on developing this kind of business model, let me know.
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
I earned my living through Photography for seven years. At its peak, my company was a 5-person organization with a 7-figure turnover.
The single most important piece of advice I can give you: Think of yourself as a business-person first, photographer second. It's not (all) about the art, it's all about *turnover*. This is the biggest difference between doing it as a hobby and doing it to pay the bills.
Businesses don't go under because of lack of customers. They go under because of lack of cashflow.
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.
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.
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
First of all, you have taken a great and wise step, in my opinion to start your own business. I wish you the best of luck with that.
I agree with most of the advice that you have already received on this HUB, but I would suggest the most important thing to remember is to be practical. Yes, it is very important to first establish WHY you want to sell your services, since that along with PASSION will drive you forward, but people will buy and even sell your your service because of WHAT you DO for them. WHY you do it will be in the way you do it.
By Practical, I mean you need to DO the following:
1. Have a look at what other professionals in your market are doing. What are they doing right, what are they doing wrong, and how can you improve. This will also encourage and inspire you.
2. Get yourself a professional logo. Your brand will be what people talk about.
3. Set up an easy to use Quote/Invoice (Admin) system to manage your services.
4. Create an easy to maintain website that will serve as your online sales representative.
5. Spread the word on social media and stay in touch with your followers.
6. Do a thorough review of your company each month to what is working and how you can improve on it.
7. HAVE FUN! Always remember WHY you started doing what you are doing.
Best of Luck to you
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.
Understand your business and determine if the talent, and end product, that you are bringing to the public is something that people will pay for. Also, you must believe in yourself, your skills, and dedicate yourself into your project.
Congratulations on taking the first step! Photography is quite a wide niche, i.e. aerial photography, product photography, wedding photography, events photographer, etc etc. You first need to decide what kind of photography you want to be a master of and then
1. put together a webside displaying your portfolio then
2. join Linkedin and make your bio as SEO strong as you can make it (or get professional help with this)
3. Create a Facebook business page and start posting your images on there and start building your followers
3. attend as many trade shows as you can and talk to businesses that are likely to benefit from your service.
4. make a short SEO optimised video and upload direct to FB page and then upload to Youtube (don't link)
5. Open a Periscope account and market your stuff there too.
6. open a Pinterest account and do the same there - linking your images to your website
The are so many different methods you can use but those are the primary marketing routes I would use
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.
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.
Discipline yourself to put together a business plan go to BeResource.com and start there...
I created a free resource just for entrepreneurs like you: www.rebelspatch.com
Enjoy getting inspired, the site will grow over time into a huge library of inspirational interviews and tools so sign up to the mailing list to keep in touch!
Sara: Check out http://knowledge-transfer-academy.thinkific.com/courses/8-considerations-when-starting-a-business. It's free.
Start with printing your business card and start networking. Rest will follow.
Great advice below. Two additional pieces of advice, firstly, read Steve Blank's book on Customer Development which refers to getting out of the building and finding out what your potential customets want before investing too much in any produce/services. Secondly, remember someone has to make the stuff and someone has to sell the stuff. If you are the creative person (the technician) then find someone that can sell the stuff that you make. First prize however is that initially you can do both, but as a venture captalist I hardly ever come across new Entrereneurs that are highly skilled at both. One reminder that more businesses fail from a lack of customer and market development than product development. Best of luck
Hello Sara , congrats on your decision to start your own business , I would like to advice to focus on two points , plan & organise your work well , 2- widen your relations as much as you can ,try to work as much as you can two with your friends & relatives , they will definitly support your efforts , you can succeed even if you lower your prices for the first year .