We are today firmly ensconced in the Media Era, with numerous modes of communication. This communication need not be vocal or written; after all, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If you take up professional photography as a vocation, you are entering the world of small business. While there will be many issues to mull over, the primary issue is invariably business finance.
Photography Business Finance
Business finance in your world is linked to many factors. Remember:
- Only those photographers who have the financial acumen to generate income will survive.
- As a budding photographer, you need to be ‘loaded’, i.e., have your own money or have somebody set you up with ‘venture capital’, what the proletariat calls ‘seed money’.
- You need a clear path charted as your business plan before you consider financial transactions.
Your Business Plan
Any owner of a business will have a figurative two-column document as his business plan. One panel shows his aim and requirements; the other lists his assets, shortfalls and recovery plan. This is the blueprint he will show investors which is why this business plan must be pellucid; it is of crucial importance insofar as business finance goes. While imponderables in business militate against standardization of a blueprint, he can surf the web to cull a template and modify it to suit extant circumstances.
In the photography business, the major costs incurred tend to relate to equipment as well as studio locality and business plans generally hinge around these primary issues. It is prudent to assess costs related to equipment and studio locale on the conservative side initially, focusing on becoming successful early through man-material management. This type of progressive planning tends to reassure investors, both existing and potential. Photography is entirely service oriented and the ability of the man behind the lens is a major factor in customer retention and overall success.
Tapping the Money Market
Once free from getting all aspects of the business plan in order, divert your attention to locating venture capital and / or investors. If you have no intentions of an avant-garde approach, you will obviously be focusing on the average investor, to whom you can provide justifiable average returns initially. If you go in for low intrinsic value business loans, you will need a great credit rating and solid collateral. Graduates just out of college will, in all probability, lose out at both ends.
Your creativity should fetch you handsome rewards. The ‘in’ thing in financing today is crowdfunding, where you induce numerous individuals to invest relatively small sums of money through one or more of over 2,500 crowdsourcing websites! 4just1.com and Acumen.org are two such sites; each such site has its own list of requirements, quantum limits, pros and cons, etc. They will take up a fair amount of your time, so be prepared.
American Express has a facility that they call the OPEN small business credit card, which you obtain after going through formal standard operating procedures. The money obtained from Amex can be used to support your foray into the business world. A good record at Amex could come in handy at some later stage. Do also try and obtain grants, borrow from your near and dear or deploy your own saved money from other sources.