YOUR UNIQUE PLAN


CREATION OF YOUR UNIQUE PLAN 

 1)  WRITING AND VISUALIZING
 Put it in writing this is essential.  What are my goals, financial independence, and what information do I need.

  1. Financial requirements of your business
  2. Assets and resources
 
  3. Establish a clientele, how and who
 
  4. Workable timetable
 
  5. Comparisons in your area for pricing

  6. How you will market yourself.

 2)   MAKE YOURSELF LEGAL 

  1. Secure a legal business identity with tax- and local licensing applicable to your location. Rules differ by state and parishes, counties and cities.  Check the rules that apply to a home based photography business they may be different.
  2. Also decide if you are going to be a corporation, a sole proprietorship, a partnership or sole owner.
  3. You will need a "DBA" if you call yourself a name other that you own. Tax rules state that you can only claim business deductions from your home office if the space where you work is used exclusively and regularly for that business. Kitchen tables and screened in porches don't count. this is where it pays to have a good accountant to help you establish the business.
  4. Open a business banking account. Don't mix business with pleasure. Separate your business from any personal finances. Most banks require your licenses and corporate papers if applicable to establish an account. Use it to pay all your business bills and expenses.       Starting on a credit card? Have a separate card for your business expenses. 

3)  CHECK ZONING REGULATIONS:

  1. Some neighborhoods and neighbors like the guy next door "who your dog greeted with a message in a pile" may resent you having company over to your house for commercial purposes.
  2. Where we live requires a board of seven to handle all the squabbles that arise from neighbors being neighborly. 

  3. You should really be well equipped at this point because you will need all you finance to live on and promote the business. Large expenditures in a new company is paramount to going under unless you are well endowed in banking.

 

3) INSURANCE 

  1. Protect yourself with liability insurance
  2. Protect clients going to your in-home studio, or they might wind up owning your house.
  3. Equipment indemnity, (If your gear is stolen, if your home is broken into, fire-bombed, flooded) Some homeowner's or renter's insurance do not cover these items. But they might have a rider, ask your agent, be forthcoming, a few bucks in the right place can get you back up again.
  4. Health and disability insurance if you cannot continue working in your business and you quit your day job. Wait till you see what that costs. 


4)  NET WORKING

  1. It's important to join the local chamber of commerce

  2. Various photography associations
, not gimmick forums
  3. Professional organizations like Rotary, Moose, etc.
  4. Today they call it networking, in the past it was a place to get a few beers and look for business, compare notes, swap a few lies, brag about your golf game and collaborate with other photographers in your area.
  5. It seems the most important function it serves today is to add a few initials after the name of your business or icons on your business cards.
  6. Business Associates: Having a good backup in equipment is important, having a good shooter as a backup if you get double booked or sick is essential in avoiding things like lawsuits. etc. 
  7. Also you must know thy labs and printers.  You'll need a working relationship with your providers, the internet has made the industry very cold. About as cold as being on the internet. You'll need a good lab.     Funny, many of the Wal-Mart and Sam's club, Costco and Wal-greens shooters don't hang around long or are destined to the low budget arena.
  8. A lab you can make or break you. You are looking for quality, timely delivery, and get first strike or right the first time.  

5)  ACCREDITATION - PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Winston Churchill, the great cigar chomping Brit is believed to have said: “I would never join a club that would have me as a member”!    He said it but did not create it.   It was an American, Will Rogers who said it first and it was also used by Groucho Marx and Woody Allen.  Regardless of what they are called, basically organizations are clubs.  

We all want to be part of something. It all goes back to our primal days when we shared the same cave. It's "belongs-manship”.  And someone is making MONEY on it. That’s just fact, Jack! It’s the dues, its a business.

The simple act of "checking the box for automatic checking or credit card deductions" for dues payment brings accolades of thank you notes and emails plus pats on the back. 

If this sounds like the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), not exactly, close enough, advertising pays the bills but generally their content is balanced, that's how you stay in business.  It’s WAS an excellent magazine, well written and really did open the mind to creativity.  I had twelve years sitting on my shelf. They had several good tips per month worth the price of admission.  It was 99.00 per year but by using the discounts at vendors they offer, really cost me nothing.  

That's not quite true today, Kelby has doubled plus the fee, no magazine, and opened Pandora's box to deals and other vendors and so forth. You have been mailing listed.  I will not renew my membership when due.

Some organizations allow special privileges for "lifetime achievement". You paid your lifetime dues up front. Some even have names mentioned at lavish yearly gatherings of the lemmings called conventions. Conventions are like vitamins to club membership. You have peers, bonding, booze, demonstrations and vendors. Lots of vendors. And great speakers. 


HOLLYWOOD and ORGANIZATIONS
One prominent speaker with decades of recognized personal achievement in HOLLYWOOD turned in a horrifically dumb act of bravado playing the crowd.  Actors do that, they steal the moment.   Charlton Heston, claimed he'll give up his flintlock when they pry it from his "cold dead hands".  That’s cool, great advice...join the crowd, go get shot. 


NO FREE PRESS PASSES, NO PASS GO
Some organizations have stronger rules for joining, they make it tougher to join because they realize so many have the wrong reasons for joining. Free press passes. The sportsshooters.com require a voucher and letterhead system from the group sponsoring you and they do verify 

Some of the better Wedding groups jury your work and don't just give things away. Few fail most of those tests at the lower levels, you must work to get to the top, and that's good.  For thirty years we belonged to the PMAi which the association of the retail camera business worldwide, and the show was so big it took a week to cover.  


GROUPS AND INSURANCE
To join a group, just to get insurance for theft makes no sense. You'll do better with a combined plan for theft and liability. Theft only tells me you are gear related; your toys are the circle of your thoughts.

A better mantra is "I'm building a business, related with the proper total coverage’s" is part of a good business plan. A wedding photographer who thinks "if he fails to get image and the Bride gets nothing. He just smiles and say I'm sorry, here's your money back and thinks that’s the end of it is foolish". We live in a "sue-er" world and if you don't watch Bridezilla, you are naive.  

Even those who thought they covered their butts found out, in Florida the judge thought differently. With written contracts and all signed very nicely, thank you. They lost.  One was in Broward County, one in Tampa which is Hillsboro County. Large payouts.  In both cases a little tear shedding and it was all over. Off course the drunken/high/medicated (pick one) photographer was neatly captured on video and cameras by the guests.  A mere $25,000-dollar judgment had a sobering effect on his life. There are associations you must join.



THE CLUBS
Many states, counties, parishes, planets and galaxies require a business permit to conduct a business. They call it a License. Even if you launch it from your home. Now you have zoning restrictions. To check into. The other club, called the IRS requires additional income being reported when it exceeds a certain amount like 600 dollars. 

Certain sales tax organizations require a small form to be filled out and if you don't charge sales tax, they will ask WHY NOT?  but they ask with the Alfred E. Neumann look on their face. Damned if you do charge damned if you don't report it. In some areas, the sales tax people are more feared than the IRS people. 

One enterprising individual aka sales tax trooper took all the cards at a Bridal Fair and ran the names across the county tax records to see who was a legitimate business. Surprise! In Florida again, they went after everyone who filled out a tax-exempt card on film and was not paying sales tax. Hundreds got fines ten times the charged amounts.

  • Are you a member of any photo associations be it... wedding specific or just a photographer association?   Like the PPA or WPJA?  Do you find it helpful or useful in any way and do you think your clients even care?  Or is it just to stay in the loop?
  • I’ve been tinkering about joining some for a few years now. Just wondered if anyone feels like they get their money's worth for joining…You will get out of it WHAT you put into it, so, what will you gain if you join an organization do for you? Look at your own situation. 
  • Are you averaging two profitable Weddings a month, and is this your primary source of income?
  • Do I attend on-going seminars or training?
  • Do I have all the proper licenses, permits and does the IRS know me as a business?   And Club membership might even be a deduction, dues paid to an association for business practices. 
  • Would it benefit me to show I belong to the Better Business Bureau.
  • You need clients to impress. Someone who has not contracted with you is not a client. He is a referral or prospect. He becomes a client when he pays you and you perform services.   For some of the newbies in the game, working with a PRO will make you a PRO quicker and pay close attention to the business side of the business. Generally, that’s where most of the failures in this game take place.   
  • Taking the best shooter in town to a good lunch might teach you more in one hour than years of magazine reading. Bottom line, you'll get out of it what you put in....