The back end of very small business

As I’ve been working through what I want to be when I grow up, I’ve done a lot of work to grow my skills and to connect with people who might be interested in what I have to offer.

While I’m not making money yet (soon, if all goes according to plan!), I consider myself to be self-employed and am laying foundation that I might have done in tandem with a day job if there hadn’t been a pandemic and ensuing dominoes.

I’ve gotten some comments about having a lot of free time, and while it’s true that I have significant flexibility in how I spend my time and what gets done when, I spend more time on work-related tasks now than I did when I was teaching.

Whether I have all of the tasks under control comes and goes. Sometimes I only work during the day. Sometimes I also work in the evening. Often I work some on the weekend. Sometimes I do something fun during the day and work in the evening instead.

I had better boundaries as a teacher. I also had clearer expectations as to what needed to be done and, by the time I quit, I had solid knowledge of how to do everything that my job required with room to experiment.

I posted on social media the other day: my boss is a disorganized jerk sometimes.

Funny not funny. While there are snafus that involve other people and/or technology, for the most part, problems are self-made.

If I’m in a rush to get something done by deadline: 1-I didn’t do it earlier and 2-I created the deadline.

Yes, I take my deadlines wicked seriously. If I don’t, it will be far too easy to just blow things off and then they don’t get done at all. So while I do it to myself, I also do it for myself. And for my audience.

You are reading this today because today is Thursday and at some point, I decided that blog posts were happening on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a photo post every Sunday.

The other piece people make assumptions about is income.

As I get into charging for personalized services, I expect to hear comments about pricing. Everyone I know who has sold their own products or services has gotten comments about pricing.

A photo shoot takes a lot of time—scoping out a location, actually doing the shoot, editing and delivering the photos. All of the communications and travel time involved at each step in the process.

A photo shoot also has a lot of overhead. I spent money on courses to learn different aspects of portraiture. A lawyer to draw up a contract. Multiple types of insurance. Paperwork to be a proper business entity. Wear and tear on my equipment and my car. Computer, software, backup storage, website. Web services for photo delivery and/or contract delivery. Plus paying taxes. Plus paying whoever is processing your credit card. 

Not including any tangible equipment, all of which I owned when I started, I will spend close to $1,000 on All The Things prior to receiving my first dollar.

That’s without buying any of the products or services, either tangible or online, that look like they might be useful or fun or helpful but aren’t completely necessary to get started.

People who run their own businesses with a higher number of tangible things, or with a brick and mortar space, or with more than one person, or with higher insurance needs will have significantly higher startup costs.

This isn’t just about me. It’s about your friend the massage therapist. Or the person teaching your kid to play piano. Or the mom-and-pop hobby shop. Or the little coffee place you like to go to. Or the wife of the guy at work who bakes and decorates cakes. Or the neighbor that does landscaping. 

These are not complaints. It’s the cost of doing business. 

I’m trying to show you that your insistence that my photo shoot should cost $100 and include 50 fully-edited photos is not grounded in good business practices and I’m nowhere near getting rich quick. And also that while I might be together with you for an hour, trying to create both an hour and artifacts that you will treasure, it takes more than an hour. And that most of these threads are just as relevant to other very small businesses.

Support local.

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