How to Start a Pet Photography Business 09: Write a Biz Plan
Wow! Great job. You have been making fantastic progress in our “How to Start a Pet Photography Business” series. Last time, we talked about the start-up costs associated with starting your pet photography business. Bootstrapping in the beginning will help you grow your business with less stress and headaches. Moving along onto this week’s topic which is about writing a business plan for your pet photography business.
If you’re just joining us, here is what you have missed up to this point: In Chapter one, we discuss the differences between opening a studio or using the great outdoors for your studio. It’s important to choose a path that supports your pet photography business vision and photographic style. In Chapter Two, we focused on the products you will offer and your unique selling proposition that supports raving fans that tell their friends and family how amazing you and your artwork are in the marketplace. In Chapter Three, we discussed the essential pieces of equipment you need to get your pet photography business on track. In Chapter Four, we discussed what you should charge for your pet photography. In Chapter Five, we focused on testing your skills. In Chapter Six, we discussed how to market yourself and your pet photography business. In Chapter Seven, we discussed how to run a “wag more, sell less” sales consultation. In Chapter Eight, we discussed start-up costs.
Now that you have set the stage for a great business, we are ready to dive into Chapter Nine. This week, we will discuss writing a business plan for your pet photography business.
Originally, when I thought of writing a business plan, I thought I was going to have to write a plan the size of a phone book (remember those things?). I’m happy to report that you don’t need a phone book size business plan. Most business plans are written to get a bank loan. We don’t want to start out our beautiful little business in debt! This business plan is for you, and you alone. Writing down your game plan for your business will give you Clarity. Many decisions will come your way along the way of being a business owner. If you have a master plan for your business, then you can make all your decisions based on your written game plan (aka business plan).
We also want this business plan to be used and not laid on a shelf to collect dust. We want it simple and easy to understand. If it’s too complex or long, then we may never complete it anyway. Here is my wrung-out, highly condensed version of a business plan.
Your business plan will give you Clarity.
Let’s start with what needs to be in your business plan. These items are the minimum of what needs to be completed for your business plan.
A mission is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual. It is the “marching orders” of your business. An example of a mission statement for a pet photography business is: To offer fresh and artistic images that capture the spirit of pets. Mission statements are simple and to the point. Nothing fancy here.
Here are some more examples of mission statements:
Use our pioneering spirit to responsibly deliver energy to the world.
We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.
To bring Inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. What is your mission statement?
2. Target Market
I have a lot of aspiring pet photographers ask me the question:
WHO is my target market and HOW do I find them?
Ideal clients are people who LOVE your work and value what you have to offer. You need to start with demographics. For example, my perfect client is a woman, married, age 30-45, no kids, 1-2 dogs, household income $150,000 or more, active outside and drives a luxury SUV.
When thinking about your ideal client, ask yourself these questions:
- Does she wake up to barking dogs, her alarm or her significant other’s alarm?
- Does she watch TV in the morning, read the paper, read the news online?
- Does she work? How long is her commute? Do her dogs go to doggie daycare? How do they get there? Does she have a personal assistant?
- What does her day look like? Does she rush to work and work until evening? Or does she have a leisurely day that includes walking in the park with her dogs or riding her horses?
In order to create a pet photography experience for your ideal client, then you need to understand their lives and WHY they make purchases. Take a minute and write down a day in the life of your ideal client and see how you can discover a way into their lives and ways to create value with your photography for them.
3. Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy outlines how you will get customers. This is a great place to outline what strategies you will use get paying clients to call you and set up a pet photography session.
Here are some ideas:
- Website with keywords like “pet photographer your city“
- Facebook page for your business and posts of your most recent work (or pictures of your pets)
- Gift certificates donated to charities
- Trading photography with magazines in exchange for articles and/ads
- Photographing in dog parks and handing our your business cards every Saturday
These are just a few ideas and this will get you moving in the right direction. Think about your hometown and how you can reach your target market. What is your marketing strategy for tomorrow?
4. Financial Forecast
This is the dreaded section for many people. I especially dislike this part. A financial forecasts describes how much money you estimate you will make this year and how much it will cost you. I will do this in percentages so it’s easier to digest.
How much money will I make this year?
Average Customer spends $800 (this would be a great goal amount for your first year. It includes session and artwork sales)
Estimated # of customers annually: 25 (this is a goal # of new paying customers your first year)
Cost of Goods (this is how much it will cost to do business): 30%
So you will make an average of $560 per customer. With 25 customers then you are looking at 560 x 25 = $14,000 your first year.
I hope this helps!
Great job! Now you have a good idea how a successful sales consultation should be run, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 10: Set Goals. We will discuss sales goals and other ways to be successful in your pet photography business. Striving to be 1% better every day!
In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!
About the Author
Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!