Friday, December 12, 2008

Starting a Small Business - Entrepreneurship as Fun

It's said that good photography alone will never sustain a successful business. Artistry is valued at nothing if one cannot run the business end of a small company. The fun part of being an entrepreneur, in my opinion, is the challenge of balancing both the the art and the business aspects of the profession.

Before filing the paperwork for my business license in September, I spent the months prior reading books on running small businesses. I spent equal amounts of time reading law books to understand the legal side of owning a company. The Hawaii State Library had sufficient information on both of these topics of which I was glad to find.

I also made appointments to meet with three photography entrepreneurs to learn about their experiences, gain words of advice, and understand the photography industry as a whole. I'm grateful to Nely, Mike and Garrett for the presence of their company and the time and wisdom they shared with me.

The fun part of it all was choosing a business name, thinking about logos and branding, learning how to build websites, and designing business cards. Once the formal paper work with the State was done, I couldn't wait to get this part of the business rolling. (...well, building websites was semi stressful--a whole new world and high learning curve for me). After spending a couple months building up my portfolio, I'll be using this month to meet with a tax attorney and launch my official website. The early part of 2009 will be dedicated to completing my Ph.D. (hooray) and thereafter I plan to market my company in Hawaii and Southern California.

I can't recall the exact day or moment when I decided to take a risk on this venture. All I know is that one day I simply had the confidence, courage and faith to take a risk on living out this dream and putting action toward setting things in motion. I couldn't have done this alone however. There were key people who helped to support and fuel this dream along the way:

I'd like to acknowledge Shelia and Jon for their early subtle nudges (you didn't know you planted the seeds, did you?!), Andrew (especially) who was there from the start and who fueled enthusiasm along the way. Andy was particularly helpful in helping me to get my first paid gig only two weeks after my company was in business and generous in offering subsequent Event Photography opportunities thereafter. Garrett has been an amazing mentor in the wedding industry. Working with "the legend" himself is a gift. (Can't believe we did three weddings in seven days.) Christian never laughed at my vision and provided incredible support as my personal web teacher (mahalo for the late nights). Dave gave early words of encouragement (whether he knows it or not), and Chris continues to offer generous interest and support of my work and has been instrumental in connecting me with leads in Commercial Photography. Julianna was my first model years back; I'm grateful for friends who patiently allow me to develop my Portrait photography skills along the way. (Thanks for being generous subjects.) Last, my parents and family have been cheerleaders and staunch supporters each step of the way and deserve steep recognition.

I'm also grateful for the photography community in Hawaii (special shout out to Terry, Alicia, Willy, Cindy, Abby and Austin) and Irvine (a special hello to a new friend and fellow entrepreneur, Stacy).


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