I have been in the photography business for 10+ years at this point, and there are a few things that I have picked up along the way. This blog will nowhere near cover everything, and I do not claim to know everything. However, I do have three tips that are "need to know" when owning not only a photography business, but any small business in general.
Save Your Money
This is something that should go without saying, but I feel like a lot of people don't even understand what it means to save money. When you own a small business, saving extra money is a necessity. There will be times when your business is much slower than usual, and there may be times of no business at all. That means that you should have money ready for those times. I'm not talking about stashing all kinds of money away for an emergency. I'm simply talking about managing your money in a way that keeps you flowing smoothly throughout the busy and not so busy seasons. Money is something that we all need, and it can be a blessing or a curse. A lot of the time, how you manage your money is what determines this "blessing or curse" status. Don't spend money just because you have it. Don't buy unnecessary things for your business. Invest the majority of your profits back into your business. Figure out the small details like how to properly handle taxes and how to charge clients for your services. There are literally thousands of YouTube videos that can help you through the technical stuff. I guess the bottom line is to just be wise. Wisdom is almost unheard of sometimes. Be that person that decides to manage your money wisely. There is literally not a bad side to doing so. Only good things will come from being financially aware.
Remember To Grow
This can be looked at in a couple of ways. The first way is to just remember to never think that you have arrived and that you have learned it all. There will ALWAYS be more to learn. You are not the best in every area. No one is. SOMEONE has SOMETHING to learn SOMEWHERE. Use this mentality to grow your business in every area. Someone who refuses to learn, refuses to grow. It's funny because, to this day, there are still things that I feel completely stupid for not knowing. Things that I probably should know. Things that someone with far less experience brought to my attention. I simply have to swallow either my pride or my embarrassment (depending on the situation) and remember that everyone grows at their own pace. I wasn't meant to know everything right away, and I'm just going to have to get used to the fact that I learn in a different way than most people. I operate differently as a person a lot of times, and that plays into how I learn and experience things. It's ok! I even have to tell myself that it's ok because it bugs me. At least I am still learning. I usually try to just take that knowledge and apply it to my business like I always had it. Most of the time, you are the only one who knows that you just learned something simple. Learn it, apply it, and go on. Do this every day with each new piece of information, and remember to stay humble through every bit of it.
The second way that this can be portrayed is to remember that you HAVE to grow when owning a small business. Let me explain. A lot of the time, we want everything right now. We want to go full time with our business right now. We want a 6 figure income right now. We want everyone in our area to know about us and use us right now. This does not happen most of the time. Like I said at the first, I have been interested in and actively practicing and pursuing photography for over 10 years. That is a LONG time to wait for what I have now. However, I wasn't just sitting there and waiting for it to happen for 10+ years. I was working on it. And, like anything else, it grew and grew and grew every year. I still expect it to grow. I would like to eventually reach that "comfort level" in my business, but I cannot sit there every day just wishing I was at the top. I'm at the best place in my business... for now. Then, next year, I hope that I am in the best place for my business then. And so on, And so on. You can't expect it to happen all of a sudden. Some small businesses have the luxury of instant success, but nowhere near most of them have the same outcome. Keep working on it, and keep your mindset in the now. You will have a future as long as you take care of the now. It's a miserable ladder to a successful future if you are always unhappy with the present.
Find Your Niche
This applies a little more to creative businesses such as photography, but it can definitely apply to others as well. Find that spot where you land. There is someone out there who will pay for anything. Remember that. You just have to market to the right people. I can personally say that I have had to learn this even more recently. As a photographer, people come to me a lot of times for my style. Well, if I didn't have a style, and I just edited at random, that would make it a little difficult for people to know what they are purchasing. I even try to give my videos the same basic look as my photos. This shows a consistent "brand" across my whole business. I cannot say that your style or "brand" will not change over time, because it definitely has for me. My editing style has changed drastically in the last two years with gaining new knowledge and acquiring new interests, likes, and dislikes. However, I try my best to keep my content consistent, even during the changes. Find that place that makes you feel something as an artist. Most likely, someone will feel that too. They will see that you are exactly where you need to be with your art, and they will want to be a part of that. There is comfort in knowing that the person you have hired understands what they are doing and produces consistent content overall. So, my advice is to do your best to find that spot where you fit in. Grow in that spot, and let it change as you change. But, always strive for consistency.