David McAuley: A hobby transformed into a business has to be treated like one
DAVID McAuley established his photography business back in 2010 after he decided to turn his back on the corporate world following 20 years in the IT sector.
After a stint doing 360 degree virtual tours still images of properties for sale, he also taught himself the fundamentals of lifestyle photography.
Then David McAuley Photography was born.
His business was selected as the #Irishbizparty winner this week.
Here are David's top tips for running a creative business:
1. It's no longer a Hobby – You may have decided to evolve your hobby into something more and create a business around it, therefore you must now treat it as a business. That doesn't an d shouldn't mean losing the passion for what it is that lead you to that point, if anything it should drive you on even more. Professionalism is about mindset as well as skills. Make time for the 'business admin' stuff or if you really dislike it, get assistance.
2. Showcase correctly – You have to put your work on display physically and virtually (even if not using e-commerce). Use events appropriate to your target clients like craft fairs, farmers markets, wedding fairs. Use professionally produced imagery both online and offline, the investment will return. Don't stop at your product include yourself, your team, your workshop, premises, showroom etc so you have a portfolio of images ready to pull from if you get a sudden call for a PR opportunity.
3. Is the price always right? - most creative businesses, whether it's a product or service, require an emotional purchase on behalf of the client. They will have decided upon the value they will get from it e.g a bespoke jewelry piece or wedding album, but will you have received the right price to give value to your business? There are the obvious tangible costs to cover but it can be hard to quantify the hidden hours or extras you put in. Try to be consistent but not fixed with your pricing and offer a range to suit different budgets.
4. The only constant is change – focus on your core product or service but adopt and adapt as necessary. In creative businesses especially, trends change, sometimes very quickly so try to evaluate the trends from the fads. Keep up with what is happening in your field and the wider business climate. Indulge yourself some time to train or practise new skills be they creative or business related.
5. Love your customers – You are most likely to be dealing directly with a high proportion of end-users. This a great opportunity to build lasting relationships with them and even get a glimpse into their lives e.g. before, during and after stages with a wedding couple, conversing with regular visitors to your market stall etc. Make it easy for them to contact you, make payments, receive goods etc. Be flexible, friendly, positive and remember to thank those that support you.
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