Where was your business a year ago? How do you feel it compares to where you are now? Where do you want to be a year from now?
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of photographers out there who don’t take time to sit down and think about these questions. They don’t set set clear goals for themselves, other than to be “more successful”.
This means too many professional photographers are drifting aimlessly hoping that things will improve. They only have a vague idea of where they’re heading and have nothing to measure their progress year after year.
That’s why every photographer needs to have a business plan.
A business plan is important because they:
- Help you visualize what you want your business to look like in the future.
- Set expectations about your budget – You don’t want to jump into buying a ton of gear, props, etc if you don’t have the funds to sustain your business for the year. Set clear boundaries on what’s most important to invest in, and slowly add to your stash.
- Provide a clear map of how you will market your business – Marketing is so vital to a small business. How are new clients going to hear about you? Are you going to set up a referral system? What special offerings will you be doing this year? This helps you put a plan of action in place so that you aren’t scrambling last minute to put together something like a special around the holidays.
See the exact steps you need to take in your business so you can accomplish your goals
- Set a goal to see how you grow over a time period – Set a money or number of client goal that you want to achieve by a certain time period. This will help you see how much you’re growing instead of wondering at the end the year.
So how do we get started making a business plan?
The best thing you can do is set a specific amount of time to work on your business plan. It’s easy to get stuck on the planning stage and become afraid to start taking the steps towards those goals. Not starting is what will keep you from achieving success more than anything else!
Here are the steps to writing a business plan that will help accomplish your goals:
- Business Outline – What specialty will you focus on? Are you going to do on location, in home, or have a studio? What do you need to run as a business?
- Unique Selling Point – Why are you a photographer? What sets you apart from the competition? What kind of experience are you giving to your clients?
- Ideal client – If you’re going to be coming up with your marketing plan, you need to know who you want to be marketing to and attracting to your business. Get as detailed as possible: Age, Hobbies, Job type, Stores they frequent, Learn more about how to figure out who your ideal client is here.
- Systems – How many sessions will you do a week/month? What does your workflow look like? What will you outsource (if anything)? Do you have a booking and sales process?
- Pricing – Sit down and really dig into your numbers. Figure out your overhead cost, how much you want to make each year, and the number of sessions you want/think you’ll be able to do. If you’re struggling, read this post about how to break down these pricing structures.
- Guidelines – These are the tough subjects. What does your contract look like? How will you handle an unhappy client? Do you have a refund policy?
- Client Communication – What standard emails or info packets are you sending out to make sure your client’s are well educated about the process and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks?
- Marketing – How will you reach your ideal client? Do you have a marketing plan for the year? What platforms will you spend most of your efforts on? How often are you planning to blog, post to social media, send out a marketing email, etc?
- Goals – What are your for the next 6 months? Year? 5 years? This will help you understand how you need to grow, and give you a good benchmark over time to measure your progress.
- Future Expenses – When is the next time you think you’ll need to replace your camera or computer? Are you wanting to save up for a studio or shared space? Having a plan for these expenses can help you set saving goals so that if you ever have to replace something last minute, your business won’t come to a halt.
It can seem overwhelming to think through all these steps, but this will give you and your business a clear path of where to go next. Set aside an hour or two and really dig into each of these points. A lot of these steps you might already know in the back of your mind or may already be doing, but by having it written down you are clearly defining what type of business you want to have. By the end you’ll have a plan of action to start from and a way to measure your growth year after year!
Have you ever written a business plan? Has it helped give you direction and track growth?
Sign up for Iris Works and we’ll get your business organized today!