Does your photography business need a business partner, or to outsource?

Sorry for the big gap between the last post and this one – we still love ya!

You may have seen the email a few weeks back about my business partner Jon (who does all the tech side of Get Pro Photo Club) who’s little one year old boy has been critically ill in hospital. He seems to be out of danger, but he’s still in the high dependency ward.

So, as you can imagine, we’ve had to wind things back for a while. However, we’re slowly getting back to ‘normal’ (I never want to be normal – phhhttt – wibble!).

OK, so on with today’s post….   

Does your photography business need a business partner, or to outsource?

Personally I don’t have a business partner for my photography and I don’t currently outsource either. However there are many photographers who would really benefit from letting go of some of their tasks.

But first, let me explain my situation.

First of all, I enjoy almost everything about my photography so there’s not much I want to let go of.

Secondly, I have a pretty well oiled machine so I rarely feel stressed and rushed. For example, my website alone brings me around 250 enquiries per year and that doesn’t require much effort – just one or two blogs a month (yeah – I should do more!). My business alliances bring in clients consistently too, and they only require a bit of a chat every month or two to keep the relationship going.

Thirdly, I work from home so I don’t have the huge overheads that demand I take on a lot more clients and other responsibilities.

The things I could let go of are retouching and album design. But retouching is my favourite part of the whole process. It would kill me to let that go. But, maybe I should – at least sometimes. Outsourcing album design also seems a good idea, but my mentor taught me that the photographer who attended the wedding should be the one who designs the album because if you weren’t there you don’t know the people, the relationships and the story.

My favourite thing to let go of would be the in-person sales sessions because that’s what I’m worst at and the area I’m least fond of. It’s also the most important part of the whole process, so I’d need to be confident I was handing it over to someone who’s better than me. I feel passing the sales tasks to someone else would be easy if I had a studio with a permanent staff, but a little trickier when working from my home.

Enough about me – let’s discuss you.

Maybe you hate marketing, or sales, or both. What would it mean to your business if someone else could take it all off your hands?

You’d be able to focus on what you love most and what you’re best at while someone else would take care of the stuff you hate, AND do a better job of it.

You might be thinking “Dan – are you nuts? I can’t afford to pay a staff member or give away 50% of my profits to a partner (or whatever % you agree on)”.

But consider this. A 50% increase in bookings and a 50% increase in your order value will more than pay for the business partner! Let’s take some simple little numbers. 100 family portraits at £200 is £20,000. 150 portraits at £300 is £45,000 – more than double.

Similarly 20 weddings at £1000 is £20,000, but 30 weddings at £1500 is £45,000. The maths is always the same if you’re increasing bookings and order values by 50%. A good marketing and sales person could easily do that if you’re struggling at the moment.

Plus, you’re focusing on the photography you love and not having to worry about things you may not like.

You can play with the numbers, but I’d rather have 50% of something nice than £100% of nothing. And again, you get to focus on what makes you happy – plus you have a partner to keep you motivated and inspired.

Should you choose a business partner or hire someone?

Well, your photography business is probably a bit like Get Pro Photo Club. It doesn’t earn enough to pay an assistant right now. However, a business partner may see the potential in marketing your photography talents (assuming you’re good at what you do!) and might be prepared to work hard for little gain initially while they help you build the business. That’s what you’re doing right now, after all. That’s what my business partner Jon has done for Get Pro Photo Club when I signed him up.

A business partner is as dedicated as you are about the success of the business and they give you continuity. You could try hiring someone periodically to do bits of marketing or sales on an ad-hoc basis, but a business partner gives you the stability you need and they’ll understand your business much better than a third party.

I’d recommend a business partner if you’re really happy with the quality of your photography, but just don’t have the mindset or desire to market and sell your work.

Food for thought.