Most photographers begin their journey as a hobby. Over time, that hobby can become a side business, which then becomes a full-time career with energy and determination. Watching photographers grow their business from a hobby to a full-scale career is such a blessing! There’s nothing like realizing that what you love to do can generate money and has the potential to turn into something truly life changing. But, at some point in the journey photographers start to wonder if and when they should turn their side business into something more. Today, we’re going to talk about when to take your photography business full-time.
If you’re at the point that you’re asking yourself this question, congratulations! This is an exciting time!! To think about taking a chance on yourself is life-changing, but also can be a stressful decision to make. Owning your own business can give you flexibility in your career, give you more time at home, the fulfillment of doing something you love and being in control of your own career path. While it’s very exciting…
Here’s a few things you should consider about when to take your photography business full-time.
1. Income Dependency
Evaluate your financial situation and dependency before making the leap to full-time photography. Perhaps the biggest fear when it comes to deciding on whether or not to take your photography side business full time is usually about money. When you work for someone else, there is stability in your schedule and income in most cases. As an entrepreneur, there is a lot more risk. You wear many more hats and the fate of your success ultimately relies solely on you and your ability to work and book sessions. Obviously everyone’s situation is different, so determine exactly how dependent your household budget is on your income.
If you have some wiggle room in your overall household income, you have some flexibility to invest in your business and allow it time to develop. There will undoubtedly be more time to invest in your business when you go full time with it – but again, that comes with the risk of a slow start. If your family heavily depends on your income or solely relies on your income, this decision is understandably more difficult. In this situation, you need to have clarity, consistency and sustainability in business. This all depends on having a good plan for yourself. It doesn’t mean the leap isn’t possible. It simply means you need a bit more time to plan ahead.
2. Getting Organized
Before you go from side hustle to full-time business owner, get your finances and business organized with a plan. No matter how you operate, you should have a system to track and organize your finances. You should feel comfortable with the momentum of your business and the outlook for bringing in new income. Watch how consistently income is generated. Set some goals for yourself in how far out you want to be booked prior to making a decision or how much money you want to have saved. This is important so that you have some stability before you shift into the full-time business owner role.
As a side note, remember that there is unpredictability in owning your own business. You need to have a backup plan for slower months or unforeseen circumstances. Build this into your goals and your plan to go full-time.
3. Your Mindset
Give yourself time to be comfortable with your decision before making the leap. Whatever decision you make should be done once you have given yourself time to digest everything. While making a big life change isn’t always comfortable, you should feel comfortable with the decision you ultimately decide on – knowing that it is the right thing for you. Once you make your decision, sleep on it for a week or two. Give yourself some time to think through all the repercussions and outcomes of your decision. I know it sounds a bit silly, but truthfully you NEED to be sure that you’re ready to make this change.
If you do take your business full time, you need to invest in a healthy mindset. Running a business takes determination, grit and the ability to remain focused even when faced with challenges in your business or things like imposter syndrome. Find a good support group and allow yourself to lean into them when things get tough.
Going full-time in your photography business is a big decision to make! With clarity and comfort in your decision based on your financial outcomes, your organization and planning as well as mindset, you will be set up for success in making a great decision. I also want to assure you: there is no real right or wrong answer. No one gets to tell you what decision to make and everyone will have a different set of circumstances and needs to work around. If you find that the decision you made feels wrong for your situation, you can always make another change. Nothing is ever set in stone!! Believe in yourself and trust your gut as you make this decision!