At the most basic level, small business creation is a simple process: 1) Identify a problem; 2) Develop a solution for that problem; 3) Make that solution cost-effective, useful, and profitable. What follows is my attempt at the first two steps: Stop back to learn if the third step happens and why or why not. You’ll know when I know – literally!
In a previous blog, I discussed a business opportunity for photographers. I’ve recently decided to follow this advice and attempt to sell photographs I’ve taken. I am not a trained, professional photographer with expensive equipment, SLR cameras or a studio, but simply an amateur with a Canon PowerShot point and click camera. I’ve been fortunate to travel and take some interesting – in my opinion – photos in Europe, Niagara Falls, California, etc.
Why Do This?
Taking an inventory of my creative abilities, I know I can’t draw worth a darn, sing especially well or write music. I do however, take good photographs: Of landscapes, architecture, kids playing ball, animals, etc. Not only would I like to share some of these pictures with others, but I want to “create art”, in a way that I enjoy. If I can make a little side money from this hobby, great; if not, the memory of my travels will surround me in framed format. If the hobby-business transition works out well, perhaps I can develop a second income stream and, long-term, an eventual retirement career.
An Opportunity! (or the ‘problem’)
Recently, I was at my doctor’s office for a routine exam and I noticed the reception room wall was conspicuously empty and a big white block of space. Previously, beautiful paintings covered the wall, presumably gifts or exhibited products from his patients. I took a chance and asked the Doctor about the wall and missing artwork. He indicated another physician left the practice and took most paintings (by his wife) with him.
I decided to take a chance and asked the Doctor if he would consider replacing the artwork with some photos of Europe, framed of course. Surprisingly, he immediately agreed, providing an opportunity to display my product for the thousands of patients that visit his office. As previously blogged, this is an example of creative marketing at little cost to me and a win-win scenario for all parties. The office will pay me nothing, yet gains attractive and professionally framed artwork, while the artist (me) receives a permanent display of his work and a sales opportunity. In addition, this opportunity provides a personal level of satisfaction and pride in crossing off an item on my bucket list. (A solution for the problem)
Building my Team with Partners
Previously, I’ve used a professional to frame other photos or paintings either purchased or created by friends. Julie is remarkably gifted in color matching, framing presentation, and offers unique creativity. An independent, she works from home with corporate and private clients. Following the opportunity above, my first instinct was to contact Julie and set up a meeting. We’ll sit down at my kitchen table on Monday for a few hours and brainstorm ideas, sizes, pricing, and if needed, a contract for more work stemming from this project. I’m thrilled that one so talented as Julie will be part of the team. Contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s Next? (make the solution cost-effective, useful, and profitable)
Much is accomplished, yet the heavy work remains: Product selection, confirming the Doctor’s commitment, pricing models, a web site, business cards, accounting, inventory control and others I’ve not considered. I will continue to document this process and share my experiences on Homepreneurs. Check back for updates and learn from my mistakes or good ideas. Please feel free to add comments or ask questions.
A good project manager – I have functioned as one many times – always documents lessons learned, good or bad, throughout a project’s life-cycle. Here are some of mine:
– Watch for and seize opportunity when possible.
– Follow through on opportunities; a “next time” may never occur.
– Maintain old contacts and relationships. These are extremely valuable in the right circumstances.
– Take a chance and don’t be afraid to ask: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
– Ask for assistance when needed. Most people are happy to help; if not, you don’t want them around anyway!
* A Monday update: The previously scheduled Monday meeting with Julie (framer) was postponed until Saturday because of client conflicts. This minor setback provides another key lesson:
– Be flexible. Forcing or insisting on maintaining schedules can cause bad feelings and is counter-productive.
By Dion D. Shaw
Dion Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs.