Writing Your Photography Business Plan
Mapping out where you want to go with your business, any business, probably starts best if you understand where it is right now. There’s no point in trying to decide how to get somewhere if we haven’t first identified where we are. There’s little point in trying to figure out a place we would like to be without knowing upfront whether or not we’re already there.
So sit down and assess, honestly, where your business is. Don’t just do the accounting and look for a profit/loss sheet. That’s important, but go beyond that. Look over your portfolio/stock files and assess where your work is. For a stock nature photographer, how’s your photography coverage of bald eagles? Los Vegas city lights? Blue whales? From a business viewpoint, that’s all about inventory (what an ugly word that is). That’s part of what your ‘product’ (perhaps an even more ugly word) is, so examine it. Write down, in some brief statement, where your work is at. For you.
How about your service? Where is that at? Email response, print quality, timeliness and efficiency of getting files off to the lab, prints off to the gallery/UPS, images off to your stock agency/website. Examine it and see where you stand. And if it sucks, note it down. If it’s awesome, note that down too.
How about your advertising? Where is that at? Beyond just advertising, how about your business marketing in general? Where’s that stand? On a scale of 1-10? On a chart or graph or whatever other mechanism might work for you, what’s the quality of the work you’re doing? What about your budget? What is it? Where is it? Write 2-3 sentences that describe where you’re at with this stuff.
For most of us, our website is the single biggest portal into our work, our product, our service and business. So include a few sentences that briefly assess where your website is.
Don’t outline improvements and write a small report on any of these particulars; do that later. For now, simply describe and try to outline where your business stands. Is it actually a business, or just an idea? Is it actually a business or is it a website and a facebook page? Does it actually involve business transactions? Or likes and tweets and +1s? Be honest with yourself, and begin to define where, and what, your business actually is.
The gap between where you want your business to be, where you want it to be right now, and where it actually is is a useful thing to demarcate. Is it heading in the direction you want it to be? In order to answer that, you need to outline the direction you want it to be heading in. And you need, in order to answer THAT question, to know reasonably well where it actually is right now.
I might think I’m headed north, for example, but if I’ve moved a little further north than I thought I was, I’m actually facing south. See how it works? Knowing where you are is the key to avoiding being lost. So figure out where you are. Write yourself a few hundred words that briefly describe where your business is right now. Not tomorrow. Not where it was last month. Where is it right now?
Put it on paper. Keeping it in your head doesn’t work; it gets confused with all the other voices.