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Working as a photographer is a fantastic job but you may have wondered whether or not you should partner with other photographers or local businesses. It’s natural that you want to grow your photography business to build bigger profits and forming strategic partnerships is one way to do this.
Before you decide to set out and create new business partnerships as a photographer there are few things you need to make sure are in order first.
- Check your insurance policy. Contact your insurer and check what kind of changes you might need to make in order to be fully covered in the context of a business partnership. You may have to upgrade your policy although in some cases it might already be covered. Either way, it’s essential that you make sure that your insurance is set up correctly.
- Research local rules and regulations. It’s important to find out if you need to register your business partnership with the local authorities and how it might impact on your tax status.
- Get Organized. Before you start creating a business partnership you should organise your files, paperwork and tax documents. This will simplify the process of establishing any business partnerships in the future.
To arrange your taxes, find out about the regulations and get your files and documents organised you can hire a professional to help you or else do the research and learn on your own. Taking these matters into your own hands will save you money but cost you some time. However, if you understand the local regulations, the relevant tax codes and insurance policies you will be a more attractive partner for other photographers and businesses.
How To Choose the Right Business Partnership?
When you’re exploring the possibilities of setting up a business partnership you need to establish the right photographer or business to work with. Setting up a business partnership is a serious commitment to make and so you need to be positive that you can work well together and achieve your shared financial goals.
- Mutual Trust. As one of the most important aspects of any business partnership you need to have a relationship based on trust. You need to be able to trust your partners to have your back and work together in a collaborative way.
- Good Communications. When you first reach out to a potential business partner you can get a feel for how well you are able to communicate. As your businesses grow you are going to need to be able to communicate clearly and consistently to make sure your plans for the future come to fruition.
- Shared Values. Does your business partner or the business you are hoping to partner with share your basic values? When you join forces you are going to have to project a mutually agreed on set of values that represents your own brand as well as theirs.
- Do Your Businesses Compliment One Another? There is no point partnering with another photographer or business that does not compliment your own projects, plans and services. Before you reach out to set up a business partnership you need to have a clear idea of the way that you and they can compliment each other going forwards.
To be able to establish whether you could have a potentially successful business partnership you should try to do as much research about the person or company as possible.
Start out by checking their online profiles and read the reviews left by their customers. This will give you a great insight into how they serve the public and the type of reactions they are getting.
How Do You Propose a Business Partnership?
Once you’ve decided that you want to proceed with setting up a business partnership you need to make a proposal. There are many ways that you can approach this but all follow a basic framework. Step by Step Framework for Proposing a Business Partnership:
- Find out who is the main decision maker in the business. If you’re approaching a freelance photographer then they will be the main decision maker but if you’re approaching a larger company or business you can contact their public relations department to find out who to contact. For small businesses you can usually ask them through the Contact page on their website.
- Once you have found out who the decision maker is you can put together an email of introduction. Briefly outline your proposal and begin a dialogue. During this phase of the proposal you should be thinking about how well you are able to communicate with one another and explore how your values and future plans may or may not complement one another.
- After you have had some dialogue with the other photographer or business then you can begin to craft a more detailed proposal. Try to present your idea in as much detail as possible, outlining how you can work together, what you hope for in the future and how you will divide the profits. Your proposal will vary enormously depending on the type of partnership you are offering and the type of services that they, and you, specialize in. Try to focus on the ways that the partnership will benefit them or their business. Don’t forget to invite the other photographer or business to add their own input.
- When you hear back from the other party you can study their thoughts and if necessary adapt your proposal to meet their requirements. You must be prepared to be somewhat flexible when creating a business partnership so it’s important that you listen to their suggestions and try to accommodate them where possible. Of course, there will be limits as to what you are able to adapt to and so being honest at this stage is crucial.
Hopefully, if all goes well and you are satisfied then you can proceed to set up a more formal business partnership agreement. This should always include a written contract so that there can be no legal disputes later on. If you need help with this phase of the process then you can hire a lawyer to draft a formal proposal and agreement on your behalf. This will be well worth the money to ensure that the partnership is legally binding and in line with any legal requirements that might exist in your state or county.
A business partnership can be hugely beneficial for photographers and open up a whole world of new opportunities. Always research a potential partner carefully in advance and ensure that your agreement is clearly understood by both parties.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Setting Up a Business Partnership as a Photographer.
There are many pros and cons that need to be weighed up before you take the leap and start a new business partnership. Each photographer will be in a different set of circumstances and will have to decide for themselves; however, there are advantages and disadvantages of starting a partnership which are fairly universal.
The Pros of Setting Up a Business Partnership:
- Increase Your Opportunities: When you work with a partner you will have access to the knowledge and contacts that they have built up. This can lead to more opportunities in the future for both parties.
- Increase Your Revenue: As your operations expand you can expect your revenues to increase. If you manage this correctly then your own profits should increase considerably.
- Share The Burden of Work: In business you often have to work late into the night, juggle multiple tasks and handle every aspect of the services you provide. Partnering with other photographers or businesses allows you share the workload and specialize in areas of the business that you excel in.
- Reduce the Financial Burden: Working together with a partner is a good way to reduce the personal financial burden when you’re setting up new projects. Despite the fact that you will have to share the profits you will be reducing the up front financial risks involved with expanding your business and services. For example, you can share the overhead costs of new inventory, gear and equipment, exhibition space and delivery fees.
- The Paperwork is Simple: Fortunately, when you set up a business partnership you don’t have to file complicated paperwork to the Federal government. You will still have to submit some basic paperwork to your local municipality or state authorities however this varies from state to state.
- The Tax Forms are Not Excessive: When you set up a business partnership the paperwork and tax forms are not as difficult as setting up other types of business entities. When you work in partnership you will have to pay your own taxes including any profits and losses on an individual tax form.
The Cons of Setting Up a Business Partnership.
- Loss of Personal Autonomy and Control: When you are working in a partnership you won’t be able to make the decisions on your own anymore and will have to take your partners requirements into consideration. You’ll have to use good communication skills to ensure the decision making process runs smoothly.
- There are Bound to be Disagreements: No matter how successful your business partnership is there will still be disagreements that arise which can cause you stress and difficulties. One way to stave off this risk is to have a partnership exit strategy already agreed upon in advance.
- You Will Need To Share the Profits: When you are working in partnership you will have to share the profits that you make together. This can be frustrating especially if you feel that you have done more of the hard work however it’s an inevitable part of working with other parties in business.
What Ways Can You Partner with Other Photographers Or Businesses?
There are many ways that you can create a business partnership as a photographer.
- Create Joint Projects: You can set up and run joint projects such as exhibitions with other photographers. When you do so you can pool your contacts, resources and networks to increase interest in the event or project as well as share the up front costs.
- Take on an Assistant Photographer: If you want to expand your services, save time on less profitable aspects of your work and have an extra pair of hands on location you can partner with an assistant photographer.
- You Can Make Arrangements to Send One Another Referrals: If you are specialized in a particular genre, real estate photographer for example, you can partner with another photographer who specializes in a different genre, wedding photography, and send each other referrals when you find clients looking for your partners services. This will benefit both of you over time and you can arrange to pay each other a referral fee.
- Partner with a Local Printing Service: As a photographer you’re bound to be producing a lot of photo prints and so if you partner with a local printing business you can come to an agreement where they give you a discount on printing costs as long as you use them for all your printing and framing jobs. This will save you money while increasing the printing shop’s trade.
- Share Your Equipment with Other Photographers: We all know that photographic equipment is expensive and often it rarely gets used. You can make agreements with other photographers to share high cost equipment with each other so that you don’t need to buy or rent it. This will save you money and build up good relations with your fellow photographers.
- Partner with Local Hospitality Agency: Many hospitality agencies specialize in weddings or other types of events where clients frequently want a photographer to be present. You can partner with the agency to become the inhouse photographer. This will provide you with regular work without having to find the clients for yourself and will help the agency because they can rely on you to handle the photos at their events.
Building Business Partnerships as a Photographer – The Route To Future Growth.
Just like any other business person, as a photographer you can benefit from creating partnerships with other photographers and related businesses in your area. When you build successful partnerships your business should grow and your profits will increase.
Although many photographers like to work as lone wolves it can often make more business sense to partner with other photographers and businesses to increase your profits and expand your services.
You’ll need to make sure that communication between you and your partner is good and that you have an agreement drawn up in advance so that there can be no legal disputes down the road. Working with a good business partner can bring new skills, knowledge and contacts into your professional sphere and so when you get it right it’s a win win situation for you, your partner, and both of your clients.
Does your photography business have partnerships?