For an assignment we where set, we had to construct a business plan for a potential self employed job which related to the music industry, detailing how we would go about setting it up, running costs, and being aware of strengths and weaknesses. My choice is listed below:
(Be warned there is a fair bit of writing, might be best to grab a drink or something to eat.)
Self Employment Summative Assessment:
Self Employed Photographer specialising in Music related imagery.
“A picture says a thousand words, Like lyrics to music”
- My interest in photography first stemmed from college, where I did an AS Level (half an A level) in the subject, which gave enough information in the subject to pursue it as a career. Through the course I learned how to use both manual cameras which use film, and the more up-to-date cameras which take photos digitally, with knowledge on how they work, It would mean that I know what I was looking for when purchasing one, making sure that I would be getting best value for money on my purchase.
- I have an appreciation for well taken pictures, which range from Landscape, Portrait, and Self Portrait work, both Studio and Outside. In particular I have a keen eye from pictures taken from festivals and shows, as well as promotional images for artists, something which I intend to focus on in my line of work.
- I am a vigorous consumer of music and music related news and go to many gigs and festivals frequently, taken amateur photos when I do, so doing it as a full time career would be greatly rewarding, as well as being exiting and fulfilling.
- I would also like to get out of my current employment, which I’ve been doing for the last 3 years, and although the income is beneficial, the hours are un-sociable since it is night shift.
- I currently have some money put aside as a foundation for which to get my business off the ground, paying for initial resources and equipment, Some of which I could claim money back on as capital assets.
- I have contacts within the local music scene, so I have work already available for which to start working on my portfolio within that given area, working in both live photos from shows, as well as in the studio and promotional imagery.
- I have an existing portfolio of work in my given collective, which could help influence potential clients, showing them examples of my best work to date by pooling them together.
- My current laptop computer is a top-of-the-range, which has Adobe Photoshop installed on it, which gives me more options as a photographer, letting me fine tune photos to make sure they fulfil the client’s needs, as well as coming up with ideas which cannot be taken directly.
- Bournemouth and the surrounding area is full of beautiful beaches, lush forests, open countryside and more, so as a music photographer I have many different back-drops to compose my pictures in, not only promoting the artist by backing them up against impressive landscapes, but also promoting the area the band is from as well.
- Transport isn’t an issue, allowing me to get to the many different locations my line of work entails. This is helpful as it means I can take work which is further away giving me access to surplus income I wouldn’t be able to acquire locally.
- Because my line of work entails a broad range of work, and the amount of local artists and distributers trying to promote themselves, weather and seasons don’t effect workflow, as I can go between Studio and Outside work when the situation calls for it. Time of day also doesn’t contribute to how much work I can do either.
- I’m very conscientious when it comes to the quality of my work, and will not be satisfied with a “that will do” attitude, hopefully earning me the respect from my clients, hopefully for repeat business.
- I would require a serious investment being put into the business, which would take some time to earn back, since a fair portion of it would be put into advertising to attract new clients. Even though I have enough money to get the business of the ground, I wouldn’t have much scope for development.
- Acquiring all of the equipment necessary would require some time to re-familiarise myself with the gear and work out some of its possible limitations. This would show to what extent I could operate, and therefore what work income I couldn’t achieve, allowing me to use my profits to see if I could branch into these areas in the future.
- I would have to do research into the existing competition, especially people working at my level in order to get an idea of how much people pay in this line of work. Some real life examples are as follows:
Love Through The Lens:
£15 per hour, Can hire out their studio for £20ph, £50 half day or £75 for whole day.
Operates within: Beaulieu, Ferndown, Poole, Verwood, Ashurst, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Lymington, New Milton, Barton-on Sea, Salisbury, Weymouth, Christchurch, Sandbanks, Blandford,
Counties: Bournemouth, Devon, Cornwall , Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire.
Phone: 07590 200204
From £95, though can be negotiated.
Can do on location, or work in their studio based in Southbourne.
Phone: 01202 432234
As you can see from a quick search above, the price bracket can vary dramatically, as the first place charges by the hour, while the second charges from a fixed amount and then works on top of that. Both have their benefits, by working on the cheaper price you attract more clients, but by having a larger asking price, it means less risk by having the money upfront.
Both businesses have been around for a while, with the first quoting 8 years worth of experience, while the second having more than that, with the biography of the owner on their webpage. The first one is a single self employed person, while the second is a fully staffed business, so it makes sense that they would be charging more.
Since I’ve only been into photography for the last couple of years, I don’t have the experience that these more established companies, so therefore I would have to step up my game to try and get ahead and make a name for myself.
- As mentioned before the local area has many different landscapes and venue types, which gives me many different environments to take in, plus being able to drive means I can take on work further afield.
- Bournemouth is home to many different types of events, not just limited to music, involving businesses and tourism outlets, giving me many different areas I can utilise, even though the principal of my business is to be a specialised music related photographer, I can branch into other areas for increased profits.
- It is also possible for me to establish contacts with particular venues to be part of a larger team to provide live show photography, which could lead to repeat business.
- Expansion is also a possibility, as I could take on staff in the future to double the amount of work I could take on, which would lead to more income to go back into the business to help develop it more.
- Even though I would be prepared for different weather conditions and seasons, inevitably there would be some quiet spells, such as after Christmas etc. which would mean that I possibly couldn’t maintain my equipment due to lack of funds.
- If I notice any particular patterns emerging when I’m most in demand, I could take out a Abridging Loan to cover my back and pay back the interest, increasing the longevity of the business.
- The first and foremost would be the Photographer, since it would be their responsibility for purchasing new equipment to better benefit the company, and taking the photos which would be the service the company is selling.
- Another job would be the Booking Agent, as they’re task would be getting work for the photographer, using distance, availability to help justify a cost with the clients for the work required.
- Advertising would be crucial, as it would be their job to get the companies name out into the world to get businesses to approach us. It could involve placing ads in newspapers, magazines, radio, social networks, websites, flyers etc.
- Accountancy within a business is a must, since this job would involve tracking the companies incomings and outgoings. They would also set a minimum figure of which services could be charged at due to expenditure of the business, as well as sorting out wages and the keeping of records.
- Lastly if the business does take off and more staff are needed, it would be up to Recruitment to hire new people if it was financially viable.
How it would be managed:
At first it would be just myself fulfilling all the job roles listed above, as initially I would not be able to take on a small team when I’ve just started my business. However if I was going to give someone else one of these tasks It would be to liaise with an accountant, as they would be able to advise me on what I could do to save money as well as keep my books in order.
If I did have this team this is how the chain of command would follow:
First of all it would be advertising to create the material which would get the word out about my business.
Who would work with the booking agent to go into a deal with potential clients.
The accountant would help the booking agent decide on a price and payment options.
Once resolved would then be up to the photographer to produce the end product.
IF the business had multiple photographers, there would be an extra stage when the booking agent, decided which photographer(s) where best suited to the task at hand, with experience, availability and distance being the deciding factors.
The Format these photos would take the form off would depend on what their purpose would be, for instance being part of an album sleeve, would be sent to the bands graphic design element, or if they where photos of a gig at a venue, they may wish to have them displayed on their website.
Not the actual cost of the car and the insurance, but on the running costs of the fuel and tax required to keep it on the road, and as such it is hard to come up with a figure since it will be entirely work dependent.
Being able to keep in contact with clients on the go is essential to any business, whether thats accepting phone calls, texts, emails, and messages, therefore for my business I would want to take out a phone plan which suits it needs.
My current phone plan is a contract on an Apple iPhone 5, lasting 24 months, £30 per month including unlimited calls and texts, plus 1G of roaming data, plus an additional £20 which covers the cost of the phone overall.
My current plan suits this very well, as the unlimited calls and texts would keep me contactable most of the time, plus the 1G of internet allows me access to my emails, but also browse the web for new clients, check on rival businesses. etc.
Value: £50 per month
A laptop is a vital tool for a photographer as it has many different functions which can suit many different areas of the business.
My current laptop is a Hewlett-Packard G6 Pavilion Notebook PC, valued at roughly about £400. This laptop has a internal memory of 500GB, a large enough amount to store photos, plus an additional external hard drive with a memory capacity of 1TB, for any overflow.
It also has 6.0GB worth of RAMM, which is enough to do multiple tasks at once effectively, or single tasks without any issues.
In addition to this, it also has Microsoft Office installed, giving me access to word processing, spreadsheets’, and databases. (installed on most computers on purchase, but RRP of £109.99)
I also have Adobe Photoshop CS6 installed, which as mentioned before increases the amount of techniques I can employ to get the perfect picture. (Valued at £100)
It also provides a tool for browsing the internet in the same way the iPhone is capable of doing so.
Currently this suits my needs perfectly, since it has all the software to do my work, plus the hardware to keep it running smoothly and effectively.
Value: £400 by itself, +£100 for Adobe Photoshop CS6 = £500
Obviously most of the images unless being used for big promotions are going to need to exist in a physical form in order to show the clients what the finished product might look like, as well as the numerous invoices, and letters and business needs to keep itself up and running.
My current printer is a Epson XP 305, which also has a built in scanner for uploading pictures into my computer, plus a photocopier for mass distribution of documents.
It has a built in LCD screen, which allows scanning in and photocopying without the computer or laptop being present, which also being able to print documents over a WIFI or Bluetooth connection. Documents can also be emailed to the printer for ease of access.
With the many different printing options within Photoshop, the printer can be set to print glossy, high quality pictures, which will be representative of the final images sent to the client.
The alternative to this would be going to a printing shop, which would be better suited for larger pieces, but obviously would charge per picture. By buying the printer outright means that it’s just one payment which would earn its money back the longer the business endures.
The Camera’s job within the business is pretty much self explanatory, as the camera will determine the resolution of the pictures, plus the more features the camera has to begin with the less work needs to be done in finalising them.
The camera I would be using for this endeavour is the Nikon D3200, which is a lightweight portable camera which features which suit the needs in the environment.
Having a surplus of stationary supplies, such as envelopes, binders, pens, paper, paperclips etc will make the day to day running of the business easier, for the inevitable invoices and letters.
This cost would vary depending on how much work the business was taking on.
Stage lighting is vital for studio work, as it allows you to add artificial light to a object or person to make the subject look more aesthetically pleasing.
A set of stage lights as part of a studio kit would cost around £147, which includes 3 lights, a white backdrop, and reflective screens, they benefit of these means I can set up studio space on location, or have it in my own business space.
The alternative would be to rent a studio space, but this would mean we would have to charge our clients a higher rate since we are using an area which isn’t part of the business.
Since I would be running my business from my home, I would be using the gas and electricity for lighting, phone connections, internet connections, heating etc. Since I don’t own the house, I would have to come to some form of agreement with my parents on how much money they would be asking for in return for me running the business from my bedroom.
The alternative would be setting myself up in a industrial unit, but this would be far more costly, or renting a property, where if I was at home I would have more money to develop the business with rather than paying overheads.
- First off I would have to register for self employment with the Inland Revenue which can be done by going to http://www.gov.uk/workingforyourself/overiew.
- Once here I would want to sign up to the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) Online Services, as they would provide you with a unique reference number which would be used every time you would want to liaise with HMRC.
- Because they have your financial records, they also would let you know what Taxes you have to pay, such as Class 2 Income Tax.
- You become eligible for Class 2 Income Tax as soon as you have merchandise or services to sell, which you don’t have to pay if your earning under £5,885 with a small earnings exception certificate.
- You also don’t have to pay if you are: Under 16, Over the Pension age, or are a Widow.
- If you are earning about £5,885 a year, you pay £2.75 a week which covers your Class 2 Income Tax.
- Class 2 Income Tax contributes towards your Basic State Pension, New State Pension, Support Allowance Maternity Allowance and Bereavement Benefits.
- You also may have to pay Class 4 Income Tax depending if your earning for the overall tax year is over £7,956, for which you will pay 9% of your earnings up to £41,865, and then an additional 2% if your earnings are above that.
- Class 4 Income Tax doesn’t contribute to your state benefits.
I would also set my business up as a Limited (LTD) Company, which shares similarities between being registered as a sole trader and a partnership, which means that if the company loses money I dont loss my own, which limits the risk. It also means that if the company owes money, it’s from the companies resources not the owners.
I would also create a business account for the company, which wouldn’t be directly linked with my own bank account, so money couldn’t be taken from my personal finances.
Self Development and Training:
I think my current skill set for this company could be improved by studying subjects such as Business Studies, Graphic Design, or Photography at degree level, as this would let me study industry techniques in a greater depth which would help give me a better understanding of the different ways I could develop the business.
If I chose to do a “Sandwich” Course at University I could spend a year in industry watching how larger companies work and taking some of their methods over to my own business, as well as building up industry contacts to help me get work or go into partnership with them.
I hope ive gone into a fair bit of detail with my strategy, but welcome to comments and criticism, any improvements would be welcome.