The (terribly boring, bound to make you second guess running your own business) business stuff … (enter giant, sigh here) …
As artists this part can be the hardest. I’ll say though that if you’re willing to get the basics taken care of and the pertinent stuff organized (i.e. taxes) it won’t be as painful as it has to be. Below are the first 10 steps to get you well on your way!
(Note: I am not a lawyer, an accountant or anything close to either of those specialties. This is only advice. Please consult the appropriate person for what is best for you and your business in your specific state of residence.)
1. Hire an accountant.
Most accountants will do their first consultation with potential clients for free. This is a great way to interview different people so that you can find someone that will be good for you. Also, accountants can give you great advice on how to keep your finances organized and how to keep yourself legal. The last thing you want is your state auditing you (auditors love small businesses!) and fining you several thousands of dollars because you were not paying the correct amount of taxes.
2. Open a business-specific bank account.
This way you will be able to keep your business finances separate from your personal ones. Once you get to a point where you have enough in there to start paying yourself simply write yourself a check.
3. Call your insurance agent and figure out what you need to be protected (your gear, your business and yourself).
4. Talk to a lawyer and decide what is the best company type for you (i.e. DBA, LLC, etc.).
5. File for an EIN (employee identification number) and a use tax number (when paying for taxes on online orders you are not reselling).
This can easily be done online. Simply Google it for your specific state or consult a lawyer.
6. Work with a lawyer to create legal documents to keep yourself protected.
Depending on what type of photography you plan to do will decide which contracts you need, but examples include model releases, copyright releases, contracts for weddings and more.
7. Set your prices.
I won’t even try to pretend like I’m good at giving advice in this area. Make sure to check out tomorrow’s giveaway for an awesome resource to help in this area! Also check out this past post on the MCP Actions Blog where Jodie Otte gives amazing pricing information – it will really get you thinking.
8. Open accounts with vendors you wish to work with.
Examples include a lab for printing your pictures, a lab to print your canvases (if different), book companies and more.
9. Create a budget/business plan.
Running a business costs money. Know where your money is going and how much you need to be making an hour/session/wedding to be profitable. Don’t forget Uncle Sam – he’ll get you good. Make sure to always add the appropriate percentage on so that you won’t be caught off guard when taxes are due. Again, talk to your accountant for more information specific to you and your state of residence.
10. Figure out your marketing plan.
This is a huge component to kick-starting a business off right. We’ll discuss this when we cover step 4.
There are more steps that you will need to take when setting up your business, but these are some of the biggest and most important. They take time (and money, of course), but will prepare you to run your business in a way that is efficient, ethical and cost-effective!
Jessica, our guest writer for this series on going from Hobbyist to Professional Photographer, is the photographer behind 503 photography and the owner and creator of 503 |online| workshops for adults and now, KIDS AND TEENS!
p.s. Sign your chid up for one of our kid/teen workshops and use code MCP503 for $50 off. Offer ends May 23rd.Previous Post: Gear Contest: Win a $75 Gift Card to Adorama & 1 Week Lens Rental
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