path through the forest

So you’ve been shooting for some years. You’ve photographed your friends kids. You’ve bought yourself some pretty nice kit. And you’re feeling confident about your photography skills. It occurs to you that you want to set up a photography business.

And why the hell not? Everyone’s doing it, so why shouldn’t you?

You get yourself a website and some social media accounts. You start reading all the information you can find online about how to run a business.

Then, before you know it, you’re bogged down with the world’s longest checklist of things you SHOULD do, or things that will MAKE YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESSFUL, or have clients booking you in the blink of an eye. You download all the free courses you can find, the ebooks and pdfs. And you sign up to all the newsletters of the great photographers you admire, so you can see how it’s done. Suddenly, you have all this information and you’re paralysed under the weight of it all. What the hell should you tackle first?

The answer… in a nutshell… is this… Do whatever you want. Because it doesn’t matter. There is no right way to run your photography business. ONLY YOUR WAY.

The Must Dos

Ok, so there are some important things you should tackle before anything else, granted.

Things like getting insurance for your kit, as well as for yourself (personal liability insurance – very important for business owners!).

Getting registered as a business, or with the tax man, is something I would also advocate from the very beginning. While you might feel it’s not worth it yet, because this is a side hustle, if you get these things in place from the start, they encourage you to take the business more seriously.

The same thing goes for either employing an accountant, or getting your accounts set up and working right from the start. I’ll be the first to admit, I have no head for numbers and the thought of submitting my own tax return terrifies me. So I was very happy to find and book in someone to do this for me from the very beginning.

pathway through a forest

The rest is up to you

But that’s pretty much where the checklist ends. Because from here on out, running a business is one biiiiiig adventure. And you’re on the rollercoaster now baby! 😉

I jest, of course. But the point I’m trying to make here is that there is no right and perfect way. There’s no sure-fire checklist to follow, that will get your business from zero to rolling in dollars in no time. There is only your way and what works for you will not work for others. What others tell you you should do may be the completely wrong thing for your business. You may not even WANT to do the things you’re being told you should (errrrr niche down, everybody? Why?!).

That being said… if this is the first time you’ve ever run a business then reading the advice and following it is not a bad thing to do. Following in the footsteps of those who have gone before can mean the way is paved and will make things easier for you. But it’s ok to try those things and then decide they’re not for you too. It’s ok to stop at a fork in the road, or turn away from the well-paved path and take the overgrown, lesser walked path instead. Especially if you think that feels right for you and your business.

Go with your gut

The best advice I can give you is to go with your gut. Gut instinct has been my saving grace over the years. It’s meant I’ve done what feels right for me and has made me a happier person for it.

The moment I’ve tried to go against my instincts, to follow the advice I’m being told I ABSOLUTELY MUST follow, is when things have normally gone wrong, or made life and business more difficult or less enjoyable. And I don’t know about you but I’m not on this path to do something that doesn’t fill me with joy, right?

So yeah, if running a business is what you want to do… tick off the absolutely important ‘must dos’ first of all, and then figure out your own path! By all means, read all the guides and checklists and free downloads you can get your hands on. But don’t get sucked in by them. Only take the information that feels right to you and works for you. And then strike out into the world photography friends! The next few years are going to be pretty damn exciting for you!