How to Create a Super Simple Recipe for Business Planning: Part Two - Services
Business planning doesn’t have to be extremely difficult or overly technical. It does need to be carefully planned and detailed enough to provide accountability and effective measures as you progress. If you’re just joining, please review Part One where I summarized my method of creating an active business plan. We discussed the foundation and expectations for an awesome business plan: the Vision, the Hustle, and the Success.
In this section, we will dig deeper into what these sections require to make a clearly stated plan. Let’s assume you are an entrepreneur who wants to offer your services as a wedding photographer [what] for newly engaged couples[who AKA your target market] because you love to capture art through a lens and you have the gift to capture memorable moments at weddings during ordinary interactions that usually, always become framed as favorites [why]!
The Vision should be as clear as possible. You know your idea (wedding photographer), how couples will reserve services (by contacting you), and you have a general idea of the target market for your business (newly engaged couples). Now you need to discover how couples will find your business, how will you find your target market, what services will you offer, how much will starting inventory cost, how will couples place/receive their order(s), what is the time frame for receiving pictures after the engagement/bridal/wedding photoshoot?
Researching your industry and target market will shave down a large amount of time. Things that you should research are:
- Your target market’s buying behavior (how often will they buy your services)
- Your target market’s demographics (their age, their income levels, etc.)
- Competitors in your chosen market.
- Some of the more popular wedding photographers that you know
- New wedding photographers that you don’t know, local and nationally (Familiarize yourself with their business. Find out what they are doing well and what you could do better. This will help you find your target market faster and save yourself some time.)
Thanks to a newly digitized world, building a great online platform that shows your high-quality images, great lighting, great editing, and scenery will promote growth for your business. Your target market and competitors can be found through search engines and with free marketing on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Your target market can also be found with paid advertising through Google Ads and Facebook. Remember, word-of-mouth never dies so that is free marketing as well! All channels are interrelated. Your customers can find you through the same platforms you use to find them. These techniques are similar for how a business locates its target market offline. Physically doing the “leg-work” offline such as networking and collaborating with other wedding professionals by providing photography for their services, passing out business cards, attending networking events, and sponsoring fashion and trunk shows brings awareness to customers.
Figuring out how to find and purchase starting inventory starts with more research. Here are a few things you should consider:
- What kind of equipment would I need? How much will equipment cost? Research and observe other equipment photographers are using. Shadow a mentor or be an assistant at other weddings to learn as much as you can! (Let’s assume you chose Canon or Nikon and will search for appropriate lens [Ex: 70-200mm lens; Cost $XXX]
- What kind of photography software should I use? How much will that cost? (Photoshop: $XXX)
- What kinds of packages will you offer, what will they include, and how much will you charge the customer? (Silver, Gold, or Platinum Packages)
- How will you set your pricing for the wedding day? What things will you take into consideration that may affect the final cost for the customer?
- How will couples review and purchase their pictures for events? (Pass for Professional Wedding Photographers)
- Will you offer additional products such as calendars, planners, posters, etc.?
- Will you ever need an additional photographer?
You should tailor your research to the type of business you are looking to start. Identify a few key photographers that may mentor and inspire you during the journey. Once you have your list of photographers you’d like to work with, contact them to see if you can become an assistant or shadow them during a session. You can definitely learn a lot of the business from a pro!
You should also research websites to review the kind of wedding sessions that are normally offered as well as any other unique sessions that most couples aren’t likely to see. This will get them inspired and create a competitive edge for yourself. Research what local and non-local couples are paying. Read several wedding blogs and find out what brides are looking for. The goal is to educate yourself by researching your competitors and your market. This will help answer the starting inventory costs questions as accurately as possible.
Finally, consider how couples will receive their physical orders. Consider all shipping options and review them as if you are the couple. What is reasonable to pay for shipping, considering the location and size of the package? What options do you have? FedEx, UPS, USPS are the most popular ways to ship. DHL, is also popular for international shipping. In our example, let’s assume you will ship through USPS for both domestic orders ($8) and international orders ($12). [Shipping rates are hypothetical]. Shipping rates, retail prices, time and labor should all factor in your final purchase price.
Now that all the basics have been recorded, it’s time to create goals, objectives, and strategies to implement. The material in this section will directly relate to all of the Vision section. Remember, you can tailor this plan for the needs of your business! In reference to our example of the new wedding photographer, we can start small and build as we learn and grow.
Objectives: List 3 - 5 short goals within the next 6 months to a year.
- Earn $XXX within the first year
- Take 3 beginner to intermediate photography classes
- Create a mock wedding and “save the date” look-book for each season. A look-book is a presentation of pictures displaying different styles to market specific products.
- Gain 30k followers on Instagram and Twitter (combined) within the first year
- BRAND! BRAND! BRAND!
- Interact with customers
- Watermark everything that’s posted
- Print your logo on all letterheads, brochures, thank you cards
- Embed your logo in your emails
- Increase traffic by 5% each month
Strategies: Create action plans and implement them to make your objectives come to life!
- Optimize earning potential: Offer additional items to purchase such as calendars, mouse pads, or posters
- Learn different angles to shoot from, why more than one lens is necessary, professional editing for weddings.
- Establish large audience and platform on social media (Facebook, IG and Twitter).
- Develop a plan and vision board for the look-book.
- Hire a professional team to bring the look-book vision to life (hair, makeup, model(s).
- Develop a website plan for web developer or for you to design (overall look, navigation, perks, desired customer experience).
- Publish a look-book online through paid advertising across social media and relatable companies targeting newly engaged couples.
- Pass out business cards to wedding vendors [create minimum per day].
In addition to those goals that you will implement, you should to establish a social promotion plan and implement those strategies such as:
- Post consistently on each social media site: FB, Twitter, IG, Pinterest.
- Post engaging content to get genuine feedback from followers.
- Use hashtags to get discovered by audience.
- Implement brand across all platforms.
- Genuinely promote relatable businesses such as wedding boutiques, wedding designers, wedding planners, bakers, and florists to invite cross promotion.
- Start a blog.
This stage is a way to audit yourself and your business to enhance highly effective action plans and discard plans that were not so effective. Revamp and revise as needed!
Once you’ve created goals and objectives and implemented your action plans, you should see results, whether favorable or unfavorable. You are at the start of a legendary business, so be patient and take the time to build a strong foundation that allows you to earn great success!
Here are a few questions you should consider as a new business owner:
- Did I accomplish my 6 months goal? My 1 year goal?
- If so, how did my action plan achieve this? Whatever the answer is, KEEP DOING IT!
- If not, what could I have done better? Could I have interacted with my customers online more? Are my products well-designed and appealing to women in the marker? Is my pricing reasonable? Are my shipping rates too high?
If your business was profitable you should establish great business practices by recording your income and expenses incurred throughout the tax year. A great way to stay organized is using the 50/30/20 rule for business budgeting. I discovered this budget model through LearnVest and Get Rich Slowly . I’ve included my own slight spin on the business income model below:
Once you’ve received net income (all income received less taxes and expenses), split the amount into 50%, contributing that amount back into the needs of the business operations. With these funds you can upgrade your equipment. The other half will be split into paid advertising or a paid investment that will get the business more exposure and your take home pay. Place 25-30% into reasonable investments that will help build and develop your brand and skill. You can take a class, attend a seminar, or continue education with a new relatable skill. The other 20-25% is take home pay. If you find this to be an effective tool and remain organized with your accounting records, you’ll be able to remain consistent in building your legendary business.
Revamp any actions plans that were not successful and implement plans that could help the business operate more effectively. Take customer surveys, read all comments, and make the necessary adjustments to raise awareness and create the brand you want!