How long have you been talking about starting up your photography business. Months? Years?
What are you waiting for?
If you are like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs out there just dreaming of the day you can start up your own photo studio, I bet the one thing that is holding you back is the fear of “stuff”.
The “stuff” being – all the “stuff” you have to go through to make it official, especially if you aren’t 100 percent positive you really want to go through with this.
Chances are that “stuff” is the things you are afraid of. It’s the things you simply don’t know and aren’t sure how to put into place. You are intimidated by what you may not know, so it’s easier to say “someday” and keep putting it all aside. Its easy to stall when you think things are complex, and the administrative and legal tasks seem to be way over your head. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today’s your day. Quit saying “someday” and make it today. The basic startup tasks can be accomplished … today! Use this list and work your way through.
Get over the “perfect name” thing
So many photographers agonize over what to name their business. But the longer you put your business on hold trying to come up with the perfect name, the longer you are going without making money at your business.
Start with your first instinct – your name perhaps. File your paperwork, get everything completed and move on. Remember, its easy to operate a business under a different name than your company name. A simple “doing business as” form takes minutes to complete, and will allow you to migrate into different names and different branding as you become more secure in your direction.
Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Your EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business – think of it as your business’s social security number. While an EIN isn’t mandatory unless you have employees or are planning on running your business as a partnership, LLC or corporation, get one anyway. They are free to get, take minutes to apply for, and can protect you from identity theft by allowing you to use separate numbers for your business and personal dealings.
Take the few minutes necessary to head over to the IRS website, fill out the form and submit.
Now that that’s taken care of, lets move to local tasks.
Visit your state office for more information
Many people struggle with what to do because they don’t understand how easy it can be. “Registering with the State” sounds complicated. But a simple visit either to your local website or your local office will give you everything you need. They really are in business to help you start your business, and they can be very friendly and helpful if you just ask. That’s why its great to start by reviewing their websites, but you may want to head into the local office as well. They can quickly hand you a variety of brochures and helpful flyers that can have you on your way in no time.
Start by finding your local office’s website here. Or you can type it into Google as well. They should have their local address and business hours on their site to make visiting easy.
Register your trade name
Again, don’t focus on your name – start simple. You can’t operate a business until you register your name, so just do it.
Get your business license
Your city or county will require a business license to conduct business. The form will take a few minutes to fill out, and you’ll be on your way. Make sure you have your EIN and use that instead of your Social Security number.
Search for permits or unique items for your local area
Do a quick search or ask about special permits. Some cities and counties have special rules for businesses that work out of the home. Make sure you understand the rules and policies that apply to you. If you have questions, ask and get things in writing. Its better to know upfront the thing you can or cannot do.
Set up a business bank account
One of the quickest ways to run into problems is to run your business by commingling your transactions into your personal account. Its easy to set up a business account, and even credit unions these days have great deals for helping out small businesses. Check with your personal bank, or do a quick search online to find a great local institution that will offer you a great deal on a checking account. Bring in your name registration and your EIN, and they will have you set up in no time.
Start up your accounting
This may seem like a step you won’t have to do until you bring in clients. But I have an easy way for you to set it up now and make it easy to operate as you start to grow. I use a great online program that makes accounting easy for small businesses. Its called Wave Accounting. In just minutes you can have an account set up – its free – and even incorporate your new checking account into it, meaning you’ll automate the process of having to enter things that go into and out of your checking.
That’s it! If you use this as your checklist and work through it step by step, I guarantee you’ll have everything completed in one day. And with all of this behind you, you can move onto the more exciting things tomorrow – like photographing and bringing in your first clients!