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When you start a business, there is one thing that you absolutely do not want to do: rack up a bunch of debt. It’s so easy to start spending money and swiping that credit card left and right all in the name of business deductions, but before you get carried away, take a deep breath, have some chamomile tea (no more caffeine for you!) and let’s chat.
When you spend hours looking at other photographers and vendors on Facebook, and don’t try to tell me you don’t, I do it too, do you ever stop and wonder how long they have been in business? Do you feel the need to have as many newborn props as Keri Meyers, even though you are just getting started? Do you think that you should spend $185 on a pink paisley backdrop, even though you don’t have a single session booked? It would be easy to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars investing in your business, but knowing what you need, and more importantly, what you can afford, is critical.
Start here: make a list of things you need in order of their priority. For example:
- Camera (yeah, gotta have one of those!)
- Editing Software (Photoshop, Lightroom)
Now, here is where it gets a little tricky, and requires you to identify your own situation – how nice of a camera do you need? Well, that depends on how much money you have! There is nothing wrong with starting off with an entry level or mid-grade camera until you start making money!
I was fortunate enough that my Great-grandfather left me an inheritance. My Great-granddad loved photography and I knew he would be proud that I wisely invested some of that money into building a business. I set aside an equipment budget, a props budget and a marketing budget and came up with a plan with my husband before I started going crazy. Now, I am motivated to generate more income so that I can start setting aside money for future purchases!
When you are tempted to buy everything that you think you need, just remember this: good photographers can make any set-up look good. Be creative! Spend your time and energy trying to master your skills. Even if you have the cutest pair of $30 newborn leggings in the world, mom won’t want the image unless YOU make it look great!
Once you’ve made your plan (see Part 1 of this series) and set your budget, you are ready to start marketing! Check back in to see how you can spread the word about your business and stay within the fantastic budget you just set!
Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler. Visit her on Facebook!