Is Your Business Sustainable? This is a very big question that doesn’t have a simple answer. Especially if you are just starting out, building a sustainable business can feel like a tall mountain to climb.
Sustainability as it relates to your photography business can be broken down into 7 pillars of success:
- Charge your worth
- Operate a legitimate business
- Maintain work/life balance
- Allow time for personal development
- Maintain consistency between your personal and client work
- Own your numbers
- Love what you do
With attention and focus on strengthening these 7 pillars, you will be well on your way to building a successful, satisfying and SUSTAINABLE business.
Do you charge enough?
This one is a no-brainer. You have to charge your worth. You have to charge enough to cover your costs and still pay yourself a salary. While photography may be your hobby and your passion, when you turn it into your business, you have to treat it as one. You must charge enough to pay yourself what your effort is worth.
Are you legit?
To truly call yourself a business owner, you must pay your taxes, be properly insured and have the appropriate government required licenses.
Are you maintaining a comfortable work/life balance?
This is often the most difficult aspect of owning your own business. At the end of the day, everything lands on you. It can be hard to manage the balance. It’s difficult to say no to a job even when you know you simply don’t have time for it. It takes discipline to wait until the kids are in bed or with the babysitter to respond to that lead you are excited about. It can be stressful to come out from mountains of editing that needed to get done yesterday so that you can make dinner tonight. It is hard, if not impossible, to make this businesses a standard 9-5 that you walk away from at the end of the day. Because of that, it is important to set boundaries for yourself. Maintain a consistent workflow. Set work hours. Manage your time. Turn off social media. Efficiency is everything when it comes to managing work/life balance.
Are you allowing time for personal development?
We all need to allow space to grow. In the heat of busy season sometimes photos shoots can start to feel a bit monotonous. It’s important to set aside time, whether through a workshop or a personal project to ensure you are stepping outside of our comfort zone and pushing yourself further as an artist.
Is there consistency between your personal and client work?
Many photographers when they are just starting out fall into a trap where they are shooting the way they think clients want them to, rather than the way their eyes truly see. It’s critical that you bridge this gap if you are to find true satisfaction in your job. The right clients for every style are out there. You just have to trust in yourself and your art, put yourself out there and they will find you.
Do you own your numbers?
For your business to succeed long-term you have to take full responsibility for your numbers. It’s fine to outsource to an accountant for your filings or even monthly bookkeeping, but you are the one immersed in your day-to-day. You have to manage your cash inflows and outflows to ensure you are remaining profitable and on track to meet business goals.
Do you love what you do?
Sometimes this business feels like a labor of love. The average salary of a full-time working photographer is not going to make anyone rich. Most of us are in this business because photography is like breathing – we can’t live without it. And to earn a living, even if it’s a modest one, doing something you so passionately love, is like a dream. More than anything else, for your business to be sustainable, you have to madly love what you do.
The path to creating a truly sustainable business can seem daunting at times. Pricing, legalities, bookkeeping, taxes….it can be hard to know where to begin. If you find yourself stuck, let me help you. Through either Skype or in-person mentoring, we can work together to build the business you have always dreamed of.
When you pour your heart and soul into what you do, that is when you will truly create your greatest work.