Over the past few months I’ve had ups and downs. And it’s almost a year since I started into the “gallery / photo sales / print reproduction” business. I’ve been looking at where I started and where I am now, and honestly I don’t know how to gauge where I’m at. This is all new to me.
So, for those out there pondering this business I’ll tell you frankly and up front exactly where I am.
- I laid out a ton of cash last year on equipment, software, and supplies. Before we opened I’d already spent way too much. But hey, you have to spend money to make money.
- By the opening of the gallery I’d spent even more. The incidentals you forget add up quickly.
- From month number one forward my business has paid for itself. That means rent, electric, phone, maintenance, the works. It has also paid for new supply purchases for the most part.
- Several months in I laid out a ton of cash for additional inventory. As my customer base grew I found I needed a supply of everything on hand. What does that mean?
- A doubled supply of all the inks for the Z3100.
- Canvas, photo paper, photo rag, water color paper are always kept in heavy supply here as well.
- Stretcher bars ranging from 14″ and up are on hand. That’s a lot of inventory space as well
- After those outlays from my own reserves the business has maintained itself.
- A few months this year I have not paid myself. But the business did cover itself, and I think that’s good.
- My customer base on the printing side has grown. I’ve got more than 20 regulars now, and more than 10 of them print multiple times per month with me.
- My personal photo sales have increased over the year with the exception of July. July was our absolute worst month, and I’m proud to say I still covered my expenses.
So, how am I doing? I don’t know exactly. My understanding is that 3 years in small business tells you so much more. It’s by the 3 year marker that you’re supposed to get on a paying basis…..well, I think that’s the mile marker.
Personally, I think getting a business to pay for itself in the first year is a good sign. Growing a client base is a good sign. And developing a following with some customers for my style of photography is a good sign.
So I think I have several good signs. Of course, never doing this before I don’t know……
Alright all you small business owners out there…… How am I doing? Fill me in. Ahead of or behind expectations for a new business that’s brick & mortar? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts especially from those of you who’ve ventured out to make your own way as well!