Tips to Create a Photo Studio Business Plan

The adage that those who fail to plan, plan to fail holds true for any professional photographer setting up a new studio. Regardless of the size and scope of your enterprise, a business plan will be necessary to obtain financing and vital in defining where the direction of you business.

A successful business plan should tell you and your investors about your expected expenses, your initial investment, projected earnings, and marketing strategy. It should paint a picture of your studio's current status as well as its status six months and even six years into the future. 

Despite the importance of business planning, many budding entrepreneurs perceive the process as too complicated and avoid. Asking yourself the right questions, however, can make the procedure an invaluable one:

What Type of Business do You Have?

Are you buying a franchise or building a brand from scratch? Will you be a sole-proprietorship, a limited liability corporation, or will you incorporate? Each has specific tax and liability advantages that need to be weighed. Consult with an attorney if at all possible.

What Is Your Current Financial Position?

How much cash do you have on hand? Where will you find startup funds? Will your studio be your sole source of income? How much do you need to pay yourself to earn a living from your business? Do you have enough savings to survive the first six, which may be slow if you are not already a marketable brand?

What Will It Cost to Start and Run Your Business?

Calculate startup costs by assessing any needed equipment purchases, including cameras, lighting, office equipment, rental deposits, and any needed decorating. Calculate your monthly operating costs, taking into account rent (if applicable), utilities, and advertising costs.

What Are Your Goals?

Do you envision a chain of portrait studios, or are you creating a boutique business?

How will you get business?

Consider your competition and how you will distinguish yourself. Will you make a name doing black-and-white portraiture or marketing commercial photography services to local businesses? Who are the other players in your market?  How will you pull people in?

What Is Your Exit Plan?

Considering the end game may seem like planning to fail, but it is important. You need to know where your break-even point is. You need to be realistic about the number of months you can afford to operate without making enough to survive professionally and personally. It is also a good idea to plan for the sale or transfer of a successful business to a successor in the event you decide to retire or leave the field.  

These are only a few of the questions you should contemplate as you develop your business plan. If you are new to business planning, a template may be helpful in shaping your vision. SCORE ( offers not only free business planning templates, but also access to retired business owners who can provide free advice for your business as well as constructive criticism.

Embarking on your business venture with a well thought-out plan will not only help you define your goals and plan for difficult times, but ultimately grow a successful studio.

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