Do you really need a business plan?

Facts & figures are not my thing, an excel spreadsheet and maths sends me running to the hills so I will be honest, I’ve always baulked at having to sit and do a “business plan”. 

Did you start your photography business like this? Got a website, set up a Facebook page with the idea to get bookings so you could spend your days shooting beautiful weddings & lovely people right?  I was the same! 

Just “get going” and learn as you build your company right?

This isn’t really a “write a plan” or “don’t write a plan” conversation though.

Hindsight and experience have shown me that what really matters is what kind of planning you do and how much time you spend doing it. A study (Journal of Management Studies) found that businesses that plan, grow 30 percent faster than those that don’t! This study found that plenty of businesses can find success without planning, but that businesses with a plan grew faster and were more successful.

So you do need a plan! (Damnit! 😉 ) But, if like me, you’d rather do anything else than a typical dry business plan this next part is for you! The ‘All Creative, “No Business” Business Plan – Zero Spreadsheets In Sight! (probably needs a snappier title 😉 )

THIS one gets you looking ahead, setting goals and thinking about your business in an all-round way – by identifying what is important to you. Suddenly looking 2, 5, 10 years ahead seems easier (and a task even I could manage!)  One way to think of it is forward-looking planning! Another is your “ideal day”.

Your Ideal Day: 

  • Imagine what your business looks like, your life looks like, who you are with, where you are.
  • Write down your ideal day from the morning through to the evening, in as much detail as you can – include sensory description too – what you do, where you go, what you hear, how you feel, what you can smell. Paint the picture!
  • Give yourself time to do this, don’t rush. Be somewhere comfortable with no interruptions.
  • Then write down where you’d like to be in 6 months, one year, 5 years (or all three!) – whatever timescale you’d like it to be; where you are achieving the success you want.

When you read it back you should have a clearer idea of where to steer your business (and life!) and can assess what you need to implement to make this day a reality!

Is it more income – if so where will you earn this?

Is it to upskill – what training do you need to undertake?

Is it to have 10 more bookings a year, to expand, to travel more, etc?

Once you’ve got your ideal day fleshed out, you can break down the sections to see what action you need to take to get yourself there. Some elements of your ideal day might need a few years of work to get there, others might be reached in a few months. But, like building a house, starting with solid foundations means your structure will last and you won’t need to pull down walls to get to badly installed, or missing, pipes!

Print your Ideal Day out to remind you of your goals, you could also incorporate a mood board with images too!

If you’re still not sure, I’ll share a segment from my own Ideal Day with you (but everyone’s will look different of course!)

I’m warm & cosy in the soft bed, as the sun is creeping through our huge skylight window, the views across the sea are gorgeous, as always, come rain or shine. I can hear the waves crashing, and the typical obnoxious squawks of the Bournemouth seagulls! I feel content, relaxed and happy…

I log in online to see what’s happening with my affiliate work and any photography products I’m linking with.  My online photography courses are selling well which makes me feel proud. I still can’t believe I’ve managed to produce something that is benefiting others, it is a lovely reminder that I do know what I’m doing & talking about – even though I’m self-taught……I’ve got a sunset couples shoot booked in for the late afternoon later on so I’ll also check my gear and double check the weather. I feel excited, and still, as always, nervous about the session but I love shooting them – now even more since I’ve really nailed down how to get the right couples to photograph…..I have a wonderful shoot with a great couple..…It’s been another amazing day – easy, relaxed and full of fun & creativity. I feel full, happy, warm, safe and loved.

So for me how I see my future:  moved to a bigger home, I earn more, I’m more skilled in marketing, I’m only working with my ideal clients, I’m home more and I’m being creative.

This is the path I am now working on. Setting new foundations, studying, learning & putting processes in place to get to my Ideal Day.

What does your Ideal Day look like? I’d love to hear, please do feel free to share it with me!

Being freelance in the current health climate – lets get practical.

It all feels a fair bit crazy out there right?

I’m seeing fellow photographers worried about cancellations and the implications this has on our businesses. Most of us, I’m sure you’ll agree, are making a living not a fortune so don’t have a huge or regular cash flow to rely on.

As a freelance photographer you’re very likely to need to be with people to do your actual job – weddings, babies, events, these all involve contact with other humans! Postponed dates are inevitably going to happen and the next few months will be looking a bit stark. So what can we do?

Firstly, let’s not panic, let’s take action.  Here are some practical suggestions to consider:

Talk to your clients now

Take some pro-active action, reach out to your clients and email your upcoming bookings. They will be appreciative of you taking the lead in an uncertain time.  Open the discussion for rescheduling, discuss their contingency plans and yours. Agree to update each other if things change.

Read authoritative sources rather than eye-grabbing headlines

If all the chatter on social media is increasing your worry, take a step back and only engage with official sources. The NHS website for health guidance and will be being updated with the official stance here in the UK. Don’t panic but get clear on action you can take.

What to do financially if you get ill

Access to universal credit will be made more readily available to the self-employed.

Up to 14 days sick pay is to be made available by government for businesses with under 250 staff (which includes anyone registered as a limited company, although unlikely to cover sole-traders) under emergency legislation during the outbreak.

Income protection should provide cover if you contract the virus and cannot work, however, insurance is unlikely to cover not being able to work due to if you need to care for someone else, or if contracts are being cancelled outside of your control.

If you’re not able to work but have work to be done – read your contracts, understand what your obligations to clients are if you can’t work, and discuss what might need to happen in this situation.

If you have insurance, read your policies and understand what cover and protection you have in place if you’re not able to work.  Indemnity insurance may cover you if your clients have an issue with you not being able to deliver your work.

Support other freelancers and stay connected

Reach out in your online community, you’re probably in a few Facebook groups right? You might find some practical advice or even just some light relief from those that really understand what you’re all going through.

If you’re worried about not being able to work, create small pods of people you trust that could step in. Find other photographers and come to an agreement on how to work together and substitute for each other. Even if that’s not needed, buddy-ing up with others when you’re isolated helps lessen the worries!

And remember, its physical distancing we’re doing; NOT cutting ourselves off – make calls, send texts, share funny posts!

You may also find some helpful bits from these groups:

Doing it for the kids, a Facebook support group for freelance parents

Mental health support for freelancers from Leapers

Looking forward, the bigger picture

Take this as an opportunity to look ahead to the future generally and look at what you can put in place should you not be able to go out to work, regardless of the reason.

This could be an ideal time to finally get stuck into that ‘to-do’ list for your business! Had fleeting thoughts about setting up an online workshop, offering mentoring? Heard some bits about passive income but not had time to focus in on it?

Now is a great time to take some steps towards using your photography skills and knowledge in an online way!

If you’d like to find out more start here