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  • frustrated with new business

    HI everyone! I started my own business with photo restoration back in the summer. I did some advertising but was limited because i don't have any extra money. I put a ad in the paper and handed out some fliers and posted a post card flier in some convenient stores. I haven't had one call or anything. So my question is has anyone had this problem with clients starting out and how long did it take to start getting calls. I might just quit this whole thing.
    I'm a stay at home mom with a 1 year old and another hopefully on the way soon. This was just going to be money on the side. Thanks!

  • #2
    Just some thoughts:

    First of all, any customers you get are giving you something very dear to them, otherwise they would not spend any $'s on it, so you have to make them trust you.

    Are you a business? Do you have a business phone that is answered as such? Do you have a business office instead of the living room of your house? When customers call, do they hear the child in the background? Is your place of business easy to find? Do you advertise as a "residential business"?

    Do you have a yellow page ad and/or website? Newspaper ads have to be repeated to be effective, do you repeat? Have you also offered your services to photo studios in your area? Do you have examples?

    Try to do some research to find the right areas to advertise in. You want customers that have the type of income that will allow them to buy what you are selling.

    And the list goes on, but I hope that some of that helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm with you 100% on this one. I registered my business on August 29, had my first customer on August 30 (a very close, supportive friend) and nothing since then. Everything sounds exactly the same: very little money for advertising, stay at home dad, looking for something on the side. You have put more time and money into advertising than I have so you're ahead of me there...

      I am also a professional trombone player and was hoping for this r&r business to fill the gaps in my freelance schedule. I have been having a great season with trombone playing and have had to spend time at that at the expense of my r&r business, a major audition plus a week away from home for a recording project and concerts definitely put a crimp in my looking for xmas season r&r work.

      My only advice would be to keep at it. If you really like it you will find it rewarding in and of itself. I find that with trombone playing and the r&r work. Very similar disciplines, in fact.

      I'm going to keep mine going despite the fact that it doesn't provide much money (none to this point in time) and is a bit of an expense at times. I am hoping to grow the business over the next couple of years to the point when both kids are in school full time. Then we'll see what happens.

      Comment


      • #4
        Some suggestions/advice:
        I wouldn't bother with advertising unless you have a store front.
        The best way to generate business, and get yourself known, is by word of mouth. Start restoring photos for your acquaintances: friends, family, coworkers, clubs, and churches. Initially, try charging for just the cost of your supplies (think of this as advertising costs). If you're good, it will pay off down the line.
        Carry a very good portfolio (professional) of your work, wherever you go. Have your pricing and other order details ready to quote at any given time.

        You can't sit at home and wait for people to find you. Find the people who need your services. Most customers will be looking for a local camera/photo center for the service. Approach those places and find out where they're getting their work done. Perhaps you can strike up a trial work/job arrangement with them.

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        • #5
          The business plan!

          Do you have a business plan? I'm guessing the answer is "No". I think you need one, but it doesn't have to be something complicated. It can be very simple. You need to have written realistic goals (short term and long term), how you are going to meet these goals, and written plans on what you should do if the goals are not being met. This might mean scrapping part of your plan, and replacing it with something else. A business plan is not something written in stone. It can be changed to accomodate successes and failures in different areas of the plan.

          Do a search on this site for posts made by thomasgeorge, concerning work practices. He hasn't been on the site for quite some time, but if his posts are still available, you'll find someone who practices professionalism.

          S.C.O.R.E. is a free (at least it used to be) program in all areas of the U.S., where retired business people help others get their businesses going. If you are serious about a business, this is time well spent. If you haven't heard of them, go to SBA.gov. This is the Small Business Association, and they have links to a ton of information and help (including S.C.O.R.E.), to accomodate you. Don't rush through the site.

          If your work is professional level, I would not advise you to advertise rock-bottom pricing. If you need to get work badly, I'd drop the price by running "Specials" on some of your pricing. IMHO, it is a mistake to advertise regular prices much lower than your competitor's.

          If you do a search, you should find a lot of good information right here on this site. Best of luck.

          Ed

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          • #6
            Someone once told me "People do business with people they like".

            About four years ago I started a small computer business in a rural Maine town. I started off in a 7' x 12' little office. Now I have moved twice. I'm in a large office space with three employees. A year and a half ago I started another company through which, amongst other things, I do photo restoration.

            "People do business with people they like."

            The first two years of working on my computer company it was in conjunction with another full time job. I got a business phone line (cell phone at first). I bought a small yellow pages ad. I tried the local paper, nothing. It was hard. When I did finally get work I charged very little and it all went right back into building up the business.

            The Change

            After two years and with not enough income from the computer business to support my familiy (I had two children at the time, three now) I decided to make a go of the computer business full time. I had enough money saved up to get me through three months. I had three months to make it work.

            I went from business to business ALL AROUND. I introduced myself and told them what I could offer. When I didn't get any results at first, I did it again! "In your face" advertising pays off! Little by little I gained customers. I put up professionally made signage. I put vinyl signage on my vehicle. I talked to people with confidence. Remember, there is a difference between cocky and confident. When you talk to people about what you do make it sound like you've been doing it for 100 years.

            I made my three month goal and ended up having to hire a (very) part time employee. I never took out any loans to start my business.

            After a year of gaining customers I started to look more on how I 'fit in' to the surrounding community. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce. I was invited to speak at the Rotary Club. People began to know me. I never stopped going to various businesses just to "let them know" that I was here.

            Well, on the computer business I now have about 900 customers.

            On the other business it hasn't been as hard to get started. Why? I already have the reputation. I just sort of have to say "I'm doing this now".

            "People do business with people they like"

            Work will not just fall into your lap. You have to get out there and not lose hope. You have to be a different breed to be a small business owner. A little bit crazy I think. You're going to try things that won't work but don't get discouraged, those are all parts of a learning process.

            -Bryan

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            • #7
              Thanks for the advice everyone! You have made me think twice about quiting. It's hard to keep going when your husband it saying why bother when your not making any money. But i think the real problem is that i have never had any real confidence in myself. Blah Blah Blah! anyway thank you Smiley and Bryan with sharing your story. They are inspiring and make me realize i'm not alone with this problem.

              One more thing. If you make no money then when it comes to taxes, state and federal you don't have to pay anything right? I know that i have to send in the state form no matter if i make money or not. But my husband seems to think that, and is worried that we will have to use his (Bill ) money for my taxes. when I contacted my acountant he said save 20% of what you make for federal. Anyway thanks again!

              Comment


              • #8
                I am really glad to see that you have an accountant. I think that is about the most important person to have on your side when starting up a new business. Most of the tax things are so complicated, change so often, and are so different from state to state, that having an expert on your side is just mandatory in my opinion.

                Most of the taxes I pay are on the $'s I bring in. However in some areas you will pay taxes on the equipment you use to do the work. Ask your accountant, I talk to mine about 3 or 4 times a year to make sure I am doing things right. I have been using the same person for 20 years or so and I work at keeping the relationship going.

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                • #9
                  Having a good CPA is a must. If you asked MY CPA she would say "Don't ask Bryan for any Tax advice."


                  -Bryan

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                  • #10
                    I agree because honestly i don't know anything about how to do taxes. My CPA has been a friend of the family for many years. He helped me out for about 10 yrs when i use to be a dancer a few years back.

                    What program do all you use to keep record of you clients? I bought Proventure something or other. It is a little confusing to me though.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I use Quickbooks for both businesses. I find it very easy to understand, easy to teach, and easy to send to the accountant.

                      I am familiar with Peachtree but I do not find it nearly as intuitive as Quickbooks. I have used Quickbooks Customer Manager which works as a stand-alone program or in conjunction with Quickbooks. It adds the ability to keep more detailed information on a client. It does not do any billing or anything like that.

                      I've found with the latest Quickbooks Pro 2006 that I no longer need the Customer Manager solution as the Quickbooks software itself has added the features that for which I used Customer Manager. As a beta tester for Intuit I was really impressed with the 2006 version. It had really good changes to make it even easier that ever.

                      For a small business with no inventory you may want to consider the SimpleStart version. I think that would do everything you would need. The suggested retail is around $99 I think, but I've seen it for as low as $75.

                      You may want to bend to the accountant on this one if the accountant has a preference. When I need to do my taxes or anything I just save a file on to my thumb drive and take it to the accountant...not one shred of paper. Its great.

                      -Bryan

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