by John R. Hartman, M.Photog.Cr, CPP, A-ASP "Just because you…
Intro by Skip Cohen
I know most of you are established business owners, but this post from the archives of ProPhotographerJourney.com hits on three basics that quite honestly so many of us have forgotten. In fact, I’ve gone on record as saying doctors and photographers are the two worst business groups on the planet.
Most of you are “right-brain” dominant creatives. You’re artists and never started out on your quest to capture the ultimate image, thinking about how to run a business. Many of you never know if you made any money until you visit your accountant to file taxes.
Chamira’s hitting you with a reminder of three basics, budgeting, planning and monitoring the cost side of your business. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a Herculean effort to stay on top of expenses.
But, here’s the best part of being a professional photographer – Develop the discipline it takes to pay attention to each aspect of growing a successful business and macaroni and cheese every night gets replaced with a steak now and then!
By Chamira Young
Photography is a lucrative niche and money starts slowly in the beginning. There are ways you can control what you are spending and how much money you are making, and making sure you actually get to see some of that money at the end of the day.
It can be too easy to get caught up in spending, buying, and investing in your business and there is definitely a time and place for that as well. But at some point, you might catch yourself spending more than you are making and doing it even with the best of intentions.
There are three easy ways to track your spending, make plans, and set financial goals that will help you keep your business on point so you can have a net profit, and have money to take home with you at the end of the day.
- Budgets: Building a budget is a skill we learn at a relatively young age, and we hear people talk about it, but it often gets mistaken for a silly spreadsheet no one understands. Contrary to belief, a budget can be anything you want it to be. A spreadsheet, a piece of notebook paper, a calendar, etc. are perfectly viable options for making a budget.
Budgets aren’t scary. They are necessary. Create a budget simply by listing your expenses of the business and then listing the prices you have for your services. Doing this might take a little time, but it will end up saving you a lot of money when you start realizing you have more expenses than income.
- Build A Plan: Making a plan, or forecasting, for those expenses is the next step. Advertising, mailing costs, postcards, business cards, gear, marketing and more are easy categories to start throwing money into with good intentions. However, without discipline and a plan, you are bound to bite off more than you can chew, and could end up with a negative balance.
Forecasting the strategy you want to use, where money needs to go for that strategy to work, and how much money will make it work, is the best way to build a plan for your business. From there, do not allow yourself to spend more, even if you want to. You might not see benefits right away, but spending more money to see faster results is not the answer either, and will not help those results come any quicker.
- Watch the Small Expenses: A quick $20.00 here and a $15.00 expense there might not seem like much, but with some simple math, over the course of a month, you could be spending hundreds of dollars without knowing it.
Those little expenses are hard to take seriously, too. Upgrade this service for a few dollars more, add on another piece to that package you ordered before shipping, and soon enough you forget how much you are spending.
The smallest expenses are the unseen killers of all businesses. Marketing, advertising, gear, new equipment, and more can easily bring your money situation into the red regardless of how much you think you are benefitting from your services.
No Money, No Problems: Face it, if you don’t have any money, you don’t have very many problems, but that isn’t the goal of any business. Businesses are designed to be able to become an income for the owner, and your photography business is no different.
You don’t need much of a business sense to understand you need to have net profit before you make money. In order to bring home net profit, you have to be spending less than you are making. You could be a highly sought-after photographer who charges great amounts per shoot, but if you are spending more money on ads, new gear, or silly upgrades, you won’t see any of that money.
Forecasting, planning, building a budget, and watching the small expenses will help you take back control of your business, and you will finally start seeing the green fruits of your labor.