You need income to run your business. You will be a little naive about this when you first start. You’ll go all in and quit your full-time job (which to this day you will never regret) and with your rose-coloured glasses plastered on your face, you’ll assume that your print sales will be enough to get your business off the ground to start with and that more and more sales will start coming in.
Six weeks into running your business, you’ll be offered a part-time job with a previous employer you loved working for. You’ll accept the offer as you’ve barely had any sales and the money you had saved in preparation to start your own business, will start running out quicker than water through a sieve. Running a photography business as it turns out is expensive. Initially you’ll feel like you failed in some way, having to go back to a “normal job” to have some consistent income. Then you’ll realise that taking on this job, will not only give you the financial freedom to actually get your business off the ground, but it will also help you realise that your path to owning a business and the ultimate success of it is not linear or one size fits all. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing in order to be a success – it can and should be what you need it to be, because ultimately only you know what your financial commitments are, what your future financial goals are, and what your personal and business goals and what level of income you’ll need to reach those financial goals.
You’ll realise that print sales alone are not a viable financial option at this particular stage. In fact, it will take 12 months for you to realise the creative direction you’ll pursue going into your second year of business, and it will be completely different to what you pursued creatively when you embarked on all of this.
Within the first six weeks of you running your own business, you’ll also realise that you need to extend the service offerings of your business if you hope to have any chance of making your business successful and profitable. You’ve experimented with wedding, interior and real estate photography in the past, but by chance you happen to experiment with something else called product photography. You will fall in love with the creativity and technical aspect of this genre of photography and offer this as a service, and you’ll get to work learning all you can about it, you’ll do a lot of free work to build up your portfolio, and eventually you’ll take on your first paying client. As your first year anniversary comes around, you’ll reflect on the clients and projects you’ve had, and you’ll see areas that you can improve on both creatively and also from a business perspective. Most importantly, you’ll reflect and be proud. This style of photography brings you incredible joy and opens up your creativity more than you could have ever imagined. Product photography is what feels like home to you and will unexpectedly make you curious about the ways in which this genre can open up other avenues in your business. Keep following the breadcrumbs…it will show you to a path that will lead you to exactly where you didn’t know you needed to be.
You’ll learn more about personal and business finances in your first year of business than you have in your entire life. Had you not started your business, you may not have taken the time to unlearn old financial stories and habits and re-learn them. Had you not started your business, you may not have realised the power of failing fast. Had you not started your business you never would have considered the important things necessary to ensure a decent financial future – things like superannuation, tax and actually needing to pay yourself a wage in order to make this a viable business. This is not to say that every financial and business decision you make from here on will be perfect, but you will be armed with more knowledge, and knowledge is power, and with that power you’ll be thoughtful about how you spend, how you save and how you invest in order to make your money work for you to give yourself the best opportunity of a prosperous financial future.
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort”.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Each of the seven essays reflecting on my first year in business will be released every day in the lead up to my business birthday on the 7th March 2022 and can be found via my journal page.