Different Thinking in Different Times

When I first started into this profession most photographers dreams of the future were similar.  Work hard in your current situation until you have enough business to get a storefront studio, then work even harder until the day comes when you could build or buy your own studio building.  Over the years I have seen some very talented photographers and smarter business people follow these dreams to ruin.  The problem with storefront studios and even worse owning your own studio building is that you are counting on your business needing in the same amount of space and producing the same amount of money for the length of the lease or for the next 30 years if you are buying you own building.  This is putting your business on a treadmill that many find hard to keep up with.

The ultimate dream of buying you own studio building can quickly turn into the ultimate nightmare.  You business slows or changes direction and you have a building designed to be a studio, which is un-rent-able in today’s economy.  I know photographers who have built larger studios on to their homes, talk about an invested with no return, who is going to want to rent a studio that is attached to your home when you retire and who wants to buy a home to live in right next door to their large studio building?  And what photographer is going to be in the marketing for a studio and home and will have the money to pay real market value?

In our 25 years in business we have used up to 7500 square feet and needed as little as 2000 square feet.  We have been at 3500 square feet for the past 8 years and it has worked out well.  Photographers dreams need to be adapted to fit into these times of change.  In any business, the businesses that survives over time are the ones that can adapt quickly to change, because the one thing you can count on is your business changing over time.  You need to have options of adding space when it is needed to expand and be able to reduce space when it is no longer needed or your business can no longer afford it.  We all think bigger is better, but we have to make decisions based on profit and need, not a dream we have envisioned.

Some photographers might argue that in buying a studio building you are making an investment and not throwing your money away in rent.  Two things to consider if buying, in 20 to 30 years from now (the average length of a mortgage) will your studio building still be located in an area that you want to be in? (I have been in business for 25 years and have moved three times as the areas changed)  Second, if it is truly an investment you will set up your studio building to make it easy to downsize and create usable space to rent, which does away with the idea of a customized studio built just for you, doesn’t it?

Some of the most profitable studios today are home based business which have a very low overhead.  As our profession and the economy change we need to be careful about the cost of running our businesses and keep ourselves able to adapt to the changes that will be upcoming.  Even in this time of turmoil, I have new photographers that email me questions and act embarrassed by the fact they work out of their home. If you make a good living from your home why would you want to increase your expenses 3, 4, 5 times to be able to have a store front studio?

Adjust your dreams to create a business that will profit in any economic climate and give you the greatest ability to adapt quickly to change, because changes will be coming quicker than ever in the coming years!


~ by jeffsmithbooks on March 23, 2010.

One Response to “Different Thinking in Different Times”

  1. thanks for sharing Jeff, very informative.

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