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Create a Business Plan and Set Goals for Your Dog Photography Business

If, after doing a bit of due diligence, you determine that the conditions are ripe to set up shop and photograph dogs for a living, your first major assignment is to create a business plan, which is basically a road map to your goals. It’s an actual document that you create that lays out your objectives, methods, ways of measuring success, and more.

Your business plan organizes your thoughts and ideas into a workable and measurable strategy. It’s something you will refer to, edit, and use to inspire yourself throughout the years. If you have business partners, make sure they’re involved, too. And if you ever want to go after investors, a business plan is a must-have.

You can find all kinds of templates online that walk you through putting your dog photography business plan together; just do an Internet search for “business plan.” The U.S. Small Business Administration website is a good place to find a ton of great info on this topic, and Bplans has sample plans, including one for a pet photography business.

If you don’t feel like firing up the ol’ computer right now, here are a few sections that should be in your plan, listed in the order they should appear (bear in mind that you won’t complete all these sections before you open for business; you’ll complete some sections as your business progresses):

  • Business Plan Executive Summary: This is a synopsis of everything that lies within the plan, focusing on highlights — kind of like a cover letter on a résumé. You should write this last.

  • Market Analysis: This is where the interpretation of the information about the dog photography industry goes. Include summaries of historical data, current trends, and an outlook for your industry, target market, and competitors.

  • Company Description: This is a drilled-down write-up of what your dog photography business does specifically, who does it, and how it’s unique.

  • Marketing and Sales Management: This section answers the basic question, “How are you going to get clients?” It’s about figuring out how to penetrate the market and communicate to your clients in order to drive sales.

  • Service: This section doesn’t so much answer the question, “What are you selling?” but rather, “What problems are you solving?” This is where you consider your clients’ perspective and write for them.

  • Financials: This is where all the numbers and accounting (things like cash flow reports, balance sheets, and projections) go. You won’t have all these items when you first start, but as you get them, put them here.

  • Appendix: This is where all your supporting documentation goes, such as your raw market research data and government documents.

If you’re going after funding or credit lines (or think you may in the future), you should also include a “Funding Request” section. If you have a business partner or employees, you should include an “Organization and Management” section.

As you, the economy, dogs, and other factors change, your business plan should change, too. It should be a living, breathing document that’s as dynamic as the subjects you photograph. Keep it somewhere accessible, read it frequently, and add to it as needed.

If you still want to start your own business after doing all this, congratulations! That’s a major achievement in and of itself.

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