“George,” as we’ll call him for the sake of this article, is a well-known photographer in San Diego, (“George” the photographer is really from San Diego) and is a self-proclaimed artist, NOT business owner! When George left his corporate job in 2008 that he was with for 10 years, he knew he had absolutely NO business experience at all. He saved up $25,000 to open his part-time wedding/special event/portrait photography business full-time. George had been shooting weddings, nature, and professional surfing shots part-time for over 12 years starting the end of his college career. He picked up photography in middle school when his father that was a professional photographer passed away. In high school he took photo classes, and actually minored in Photography in college.
George quit his corporate job in 2008 in hopes to personally profit $90,000 a year for his family of 4 (wife & two kids both under 7). That might seem like a lot, but don’t forget George lives in San Diego, CA, one of the most expensive places to live in America. George was previously making $113,000 in his corporate job with amazing benefits, but was NEVER home. George also hated his job, and it was taking a toll on his family. His goal has always been to stay in his home in San Diego because his wife has a part-time job working for the City of San Diego and the kids are in great schools. Also, his wife still qualifies for partial benefits with the City, and this helps with the kids’ health insurance.
The dilemma was actually simple for George and his family to figure out regarding running his own business; George had no prior business experience and didn’t know how to utilize the $25,000 saved up to start his full-time business. George hired a personal friend (a lawyer in corporate business) to help him start his business and run it full-time . George was able to get his business off the ground and hired a marketing intern in 2009 to help with promo and advertising. George’s corporate job was in human relations. All of his prior wedding and portrait photo clients were from his church, community, or word of mouth.
What George does know is that he is REALLY good at taking pictures and works well with the clients. George has won numerous awards over the years, and charges clients what he is worth. His prices have always been competitive with the best wedding photographers in Southern California. In fact, George brought home $83,000 for his family in 2010 & 2011 and forecasts $92,000 for 2012, the problem is that he needs to increase his businesses marketing budget, which will dip into what he personally brings home for at least one, maybe two years bringing down his take home profit around $72,000.
George is doing okay in 2012. He still is operating his photography business, his wife still works part-time, but he is barely making enough to stay in his home and pay all the bills and really needs to start saving more money each month. In the down economy the SoCal area is now flooded with “wedding vendors” that picked up a camera or started a wedding planning business with no real experience, but needed work. This has devalued other professional wedding vendors and their pricing standards. Another issue that George is having is that he doesn’t like to network that often, he is very opinionated, and he recognizes that he is an “artist” not a business pro. He does not like the game of “politics” and realized he is no good at it either.
George is years away from retirement, LOVES shooting and editing pictures for about 30-45 hours a week, but realizes he could be doing better on the business side. George’s work speaks for itself, but he realizes that isn’t enough in this incredibly competitive and tough economy. He doesn’t utilize his non-photo, business operating time very wisely. So, what did George do, he hired a consultant to help with his business and evaluate his goals, dreams, and future with his children and wife, which means college savings, retirement savings, and other forms of saving. George’s biggest concern right now and why he hired a consultant is that he is not able to save a dime each month. The money is going out as fast as it comes in, and that has George very worried.
Can you relate to George? Want to learn more about George’s journey? Sign up to receive email updates on the —-> side bar, because George is going to report back what the consultant says next week!