Tag Archives: small business

5 Great Reasons to Have a Break From Your Business

I have just had 3 weeks overseas. It was a great time to have a break and to reflect on my photography business. I had plenty of time to consider where it is at now, and where it is headed. I feel refreshed! It has also enabled me to make some really significant decisions on where my business is going – more posts on that to come in the next few weeks! I was reflecting that isn’t it funny that I was looking forward to a holiday, but I was going to miss my business and my clients. And I did! But it has made me really appreciate getting away for a break. Here are 5 great reasons to have a break from your business.


This isn’t me (obviously!) but after a 3 week break I feel physically refreshed and energized

Reason 1 – A Physical Refresh.

Many of us are running one person businesses and while I love the hustle and bustle of my business, it wasn’t until I got away that I realized I was tired! I was too busy to realize it before! For most of the first week on holiday I relaxed and slept really well. For the next 2 weeks I ate a lot healthier than I normally do, and did some exercise. I feel much better for it. Do you need to schedule time for a physical refresh?


Being on holiday it was fun just shooting the people, places and experiences in South Korea. That made it one of the great reasons to have a break from your business

Reason 2 – Shooting was Fun Again.

When I’m at home I rarely find time to just shoot for fun. While I am quite good at setting personal projects for myself, it’s very rare for me to shoot random stuff just for fun. Taking a good break enabled me to shoot for fun again, and to experiment. I would never do that when I am shooting for a client. It was great to be experimenting and to shoot for fun again.

Reason 3 – Space Helps Perspective.

Being a long way away (14 hours flying time!) helped me to detach from day to day business issues and to reflect on the overall shape of my business. That helped to then re-shape where I want to move to in the future. I like to be busy shooting and meeting with clients. It was a blessing to be not able to do that for 3 weeks.

alarm clock

Without the pressure of immediate deadlines I had the space to plan for the future

Reason 4 – Time Drives Considered Decisions.

I have been thinking about taking a major step in a different direction in my photography business. When I was on the first long plane ride I had a lot of time to think through that option and to write down all of the issues associated with it. Over the next 3 weeks I had time and space to revisit and challenge my earlier thinking. It was this space that has helped me reach a significant decision on the next steps for my business. Are you making space for yourself to assess progress and future direction? or are you buried in the day to day busy-ness?

Reason 5 – Realize What You Miss and What You Don’t.

Being away from my business for an extended time made me realized what I missed the most! It also made me realize what I didn’t miss – which was the extensive time I can spend in front of a computer. I know I’m better in front of clients than in front of computer screens, and am going to start to make that work better for me.

I hope my experience and the great reasons to have a break from your business have been helpful to you. Schedule a break and make the most of it!



Seven Traits of People Running Successful Photography Businesses

This week I took part in an interesting discussion between photographers in a Facebook group. The discussion started with one photographer asking if others thought it was a good idea to do her own personal and business tax returns. (For readers not based in Australia, the tax year here ends in June and people begin submitting tax returns as early as July).

It is very hard to answer her question without knowing her circumstances. She may be a qualified tax accountant and it might be worthwhile doing her own taxes. That scenario is unlikely and my advice was that it is best to have a specialist do your taxes. That’s what I do for both my personal and business tax returns. I find it is worth the peace of mind knowing that my tax returns have been done properly. It also means that I get all of the deductions available to me as a small business owner. But most importantly, using an expert to do my tax returns leaves me more time to look after my clients.

Tax time

Taxes are one example of business tasks better left to a specialist.

The photographer in the Facebook group had just completed her first year in business as a photographer. Her comments reminded me that it is very common when we are starting out to try and do everything ourselves. We may not have the business cash flow to be able to pay for a range of services, or we just figure that because we have the time, we will do things ourselves to save money. Some might think that is a valid approach, but all of the people I know who are running successful photography businesses take a different approach. That lead me to consider the traits I see in people running successful small photography businesses. Here they are, seven traits of people running successful photography businesses.

The photographers I know who are running successful photography businesses have these things in common. They:

(1) Get help with business activities they are not expert in – that includes but isn’t limited to doing taxes, editing images, printing, preparing contracts, framing prints, delivering products to their clients. The list goes on. Where they are not expert, or where they can’t add value, they get an expert to help.

(2) Understand the value of their time. This is where being a good business person really shows. They may be able to do their own taxes, but they know it will take them 3 weeks where an expert can do it in one week. Why would they want 3 weeks of their year tied up doing taxes? They know it is not a good use of their time to be tied up doing this type of task.

(3) Build relationships with clients. This is the one element of their businesses that they won’t leave to someone else. They know that the connection they make with their client is critical to the ongoing success of their business. All other things get set aside to make time for their current clients, and for finding new clients.

(4) Build their own skills. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses keep adding to their core skill set. They invest in learning new post processing techniques, or learning how to better market their business, or learning how to shoot expertly with a new piece of equipment. They don’t get distracted with trying to do their own taxes. They build their skills so that they can better serve their clients.

(5) Network with other successful photographers. People running successful photography businesses take time to build relationships with others doing the same. They discuss the business as well as the art. They share ideas and learn from each other.

(6) Take time off. Yes, people running successful photography businesses know that they need to take time off. They need to get away and relax. They put the dates in the diary at the beginning of the year. They are deliberate about taking a break and recharging the batteries. Is that what you do? Or do you have a break when you don’t have any clients?

(7) Don’t give up. Small businesses, like people, go through good times and bad times. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses understand this. In the good times, they don’t get carried away with their own success. They view it as an outcome of the work they have put in. And equally with bad times, they know that tough times will pass. They keep focused on their clients and the quality of their work, knowing that short term down times will not effect their long term success.


Successful small businesses owners understand the importance of time off to recharge their batteries

If you are starting out or looking to refocus your photography business, challenge yourself on each of the points above. Are you doing tasks which would be better done by an expert? Have your skills grown in the last year?  Are you putting enough time into finding or looking after clients? Are you getting distracted by trying to do everything yourself? How well are you doing on the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses?

Thanks for reading the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses. Have you seen other traits that set people apart? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

Investing in Relationships

When I started Beyond Here, I had in mind that the content should apply to photographers, and also to people running other creative businesses. That has only partly been the case so far. Most readers right now are photographers. This weekend I ran across a great example of a business principle that applies to any personal service business. Investing in relationships, can be much more valuable than any revenue generated by a single job.

The incident happened with my hairdresser.

I have been getting my haircut by the same hairdresser since 2008. I had her recommended to me (by my wife!). I first visited her when she was running her hairdressing business from the basement of her house. Not too long after that, she opened a retail outlet on a suburban main road in Melbourne, Australia. Despite occasional frustrations with car parking, I continue to visit regularly. Now she has a second retail outlet with staff running both shops. She continues to cut hair, and shares her time between the 2 salons.


Choices. This weekend my hairdresser chose to invest in the client relationship and forgo the money from one hair cut.

On this occasion I visited the newer salon. I hadn’t been to that outlet before, as it is quite a bit further from where I live. To fit in with my hairdressers schedule, I agreed to go to her new salon. So far, so good.

Now, I am a stickler for being on time – and she is too. I regularly arrive early, and nearly every time she is ready early or on time, and occasionally just a little late. This weekend, I arrived 30 minutes before my appointment time. I didn’t mean to arrive that early, I had allowed too much time, there was little traffic, and I got a car park 25m from the salon front door.

When I arrived we said hello. The salon was busy. She asked me to wait to my appointment time (which I expected to). I set about reading a magazine, and surfing on my iphone. My appointment time came and went. Twenty minutes after my appointment time I was still waiting and starting to get frustrated. I had been reading a trashy magazine for 50 minutes now – 30 minutes being my fault for being so early, and 20 minutes more as my hairdresser was running late on her appointments.

When the haircut began, she asked where my car was parked. I explained it was outside. She explained that unfortunately it is only a 60 minute parking zone. She was genuinely concerned that I would be there for over an hour. I appreciated her concern, but wasn’t very excited about the idea of running late and getting a parking ticket. (I was even less excited when I realized how much grey hair was showing through!) At this point, I was getting slightly cranky, but doing my best not to show it. My hairdresser is a great person, and has been cutting my hair for years. I wasn’t about to let being a few minutes late and a parking ticket ruin that history.

Now, cutting my hair isn’t a very lengthy experience. I was all done in less than 20 minutes. As we finished she apologized for running late, but the next thing she did took me by surprise and reminded me of a great lesson. As I walked to the cashiers desk, I reached for my wallet. I wanted to pay and get moving so I wouldn’t have a parking ticket and wouldn’t be late for my next appointment. It was then she said – ‘Craig, this time its on me. See you next time’. I was genuinely shocked. I understand that sometimes things run late, and wasn’t expecting a free haircut.

Instead of having a loyal customer leaving feeling frustrated and cranky, I left feeling great that I was appreciated as a customer – she knew we had been unusually late and she wanted me to get moving so that I wouldn’t get a parking ticket. It was a great reminder that investing in relationships is worth much more than the money that would have been generated from that job. I will continue to be a loyal customer as long as my greying hair keeps growing.

As photographers or personal service business owners, investing in relationships is key to our long term success. Today I shot a 30 minute portrait shoot for a friend. I charged nothing. I decided this was my opportunity for investing in relationships. Have you got an ‘investing in relationships’ story to share?

Just in case you were wondering, I was parked in the 60 minute zone for about 75 minutes. I was pleased there wasn’t a parking ticket on my windscreen. All good, and a great reminder about investing in relationships.


Jump Start Your 2015

This year has raced past and its already December. At this time of year many photographers pipeline of work slows as domestic clients start to think about Christmas and holiday time, and commercial clients have a ‘crazy busy’ few weeks before the end of the calendar year. December is a great time of year to take a few simple steps to jump start your 2015.

Jump start

Making time to contact past clients in December can jump start your business into the new calendar year

I take a few simple steps at this time of year to jump start my business for the new calendar year. Many of my clients are domestic clients who I have shot weddings or family portraits for. Over the next 2 weeks I will send each of them a 6×4 print, a business card, and a Christmas card. In the Christmas card will be a hand written message. This contact helps maintain a connection with each client, and makes it easier to strike up a conversation the next time I see them, or they refer a friend to me. I want them to think of me as their family photographer and holidays are a great time to reinforce that connection. For my commercial clients, I call them in early December. No one needs another email at a busy time of year, so I choose to call to either speak with the client or to leave a voice message. My message is a simple one, are there any projects they need assistance in getting completed in the next few weeks? How can I help? If there aren’t any, what date will my client be back in the new year? Can I touch base with them about new year projects? All simple stuff to maintain a relationship with each client and to see if I can assist them.

What do you do to maintain contact with your clients? What approach will you be taking to jump start your 2015?

10 Things to Consider as You Start Your Photography Business

This weekend I swapped messages with 2 people who are about to start their photography businesses. They are both confident with camera and client skills, but starting a business is the great unknown. I started to make a list of business things to consider. In most cases, these things are not hard, they are just new. Keep in mind I’m not an adviser, a lawyer, or an accountant – I’m a photographer. I have done each of these things in setting up and running my own business. Here are 10 things to consider as you start your photography business.

My business

Setting up in business is an exciting time. Enjoy it!

1. How Your Business Will Operate? There are a variety of ways a business can operate (this varies depending on what country you are in). Will you operate as a sole trader? Will you establish a company? Here is Australia the simplest way to start operating is as a sole trader. This is how I first set up my business operations. As the business grew I changed to a company structure which is how I operate today. If you want expert advice, an accountant will be able to give you the pros and cons of different business structures.

2. Register Your Business. Once you have decided how your business will operate you need to register your business. Again, this process is different in different countries. Here in Australia you need to get an ABN number. This can be done online at www.abr.gov.au. If you want help an accountant will be able to assist in understanding and completing this process.

3. Insurance. Now that you are in business you will need to get appropriate insurance to protect your business in the event of something going wrong. Your photography equipment may have previously been covered under your contents policy. Now that you are using it for commercial purposes it is unlikely to be covered by your domestic policy. Insuring it under a commercial policy is the answer. And very importantly, you will need Public Liability Insurance. Here in Australia it is available for just a few hundred dollars per year from any of the major insurance companies or through an insurance broker.

4. Bank Account. You will need a separate bank account for your business. This keeps the businesses banking needs separate to your personal ones. Here in Australia it is very straightforward to set up a business bank account. I have mine with the same bank I do my personal banking with. They offer a fee-free business account which is nice.

5. Online Presence. Having an online presence is a key business tool. I see some beginners setting up pages on Facebook as their only online presence. This makes me cringe. You are going to need your own website if you want to control how your information is laid out and presented. Social media channels like Facebook and Google+ can be used to drive traffic to your website, but you will need a functioning website as your foundation.

6. Marketing Materials. I am avoiding going into the topic of generating clients here. Let’s just say that when you are starting out it is handy to have some simple marketing materials – like business cards, letterhead, envelopes, note paper etc. It adds to your credibility and can present you much more professionally than an enthusiast who just has a camera and a smile. Choose what you like and fits into your budget.

Take time to set you business up, so when you are with a client you can focus on great images

Take time to set your business up, so when you are with a client you can focus on great images

7. Contracts. Contracts are critical in photography business. They outline the agreement between you and your client. Make sure your contract covers what services will be provided, who owns copyright, and issues around model releases. I have never had a disagreement with a client about services or price, but its nice to know that if I did, I have a written contract to revert to. Some sample contracts are available online, but talking to a lawyer will give you peace of mind.

8. Invoicing System. Starting in business means you are planning to get paid for your work. To do this you need an invoicing system in place. That is a fancy way of saying, you need to know how you will get a bill to your client. Don’t be intimidated by this – when I started my system was to hand write all my invoices! I bought an invoice book at the local stationery store and literally hand wrote invoices to my clients. Low tech but effective.

9. Understand Expenses. When you set up in business, understanding the revenue side of your business is straightforward – it is the amount of money your clients are paying your business. Understanding expenses is slightly more complex, only because some of your personal expenses will be tax deductible expenses to your business. For example, if you are driving your personal vehicle to shoot weddings, the mileage you are doing in your vehicle can be claimed as a company expense. It is worthwhile talking to an accountant about business expenses.

10. Learn from those Who’ve Been There Before. There is now a good range of business photography books available with some outstanding advice. Three that I really like are:

Keep in mind that getting started in business is not complex and you shouldn’t feel over whelmed. I hope these ’10 things to consider as you start your photography business’ have been useful. Have you set up in business? What was the most challenging aspect? If you haven’t set up yet and would like some more help, please add a comment to this post.

Three Tips for Getting Started in Small Business


Having a clear plan and commitment is key

Since 2008 I have been running a photography business as well as working a full time corporate role. This post covers three tips for getting started in small business.

There are a myriad of issues to consider when you are getting started in small business. Here are three tips which have been useful for me.

Tip #1 – Decide the operating and income model

This step is all about defining what you are going to do and how you are going to generate income. You need to be clear on exactly how the business will operate and where the revenue will come from.

For me, back in 2008 I decided that I would start my photography business by focusing on stock photography. I could shoot images on weekends, and edit and upload during the week around my other commitments.

Being clear on this step is very important. How will you generate income?

Tip #2 – Give it Time

A lot of new businesses are born with what we perceive to be a great idea and start with an explosion of energy. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t take long until the reality doesn’t match the dream.

I recommend taking time when you have the brilliant idea. Rather than beginning with enormous energy, take time to think through the plan. Reflect for a moment – even at this early stage. After some thought, if it still looks as good a week later and you feel passionate about the business, then it is time to start.

Tip #3 – Plan Your Time

This was the key for me! I set aside 2 hours each week night to work on my photography business. I stuck to the same 2 hour period for the first 2 years.

It is remarkable how much you can achieve in 10 hours per week when you are focused and it is part of your daily routine. That time was spent researching and planning stock photography concepts, editing, uploading and keywording images. The photo shoots happened on the weekends.

The habit of setting aside time and working the plan was key! Without a plan and commitment your business may fall over.

Are you running a small business? What have been the keys to your success? What lessons have you learned that others may learn from?