Sources of Funding your Real Estate Photography Business

Please note: The information in the article is for informative purposes only and is not financial advice. You should seek appropriate independent professional advice before making any decisions based on material found on this website or any linked sites.

The start-up costs for a real estate photography business are quite low (compared to many service-based businesses), and if you are already a professional or amateur photographer, you will already own most of the equipment required. Depending on your financial situation you may need to borrow funds if you do not own a mid to high-end digital SLR camera, do not own a vehicle or you wish to purchase a real state photography franchise instead of starting your own business from scratch.

If you have done your research on starting a real estate photography business, you would have come across franchise opportunities available in your location. The franchise option can assist you with getting started if you have no experience in real estate photography as they usually provide training, equipment, and some even offer ‘guaranteed income’ for a certain period.

Be aware that ‘guaranteed income’ is usually just ‘cashback’ from the initial sum of money you used to purchase the franchise. Some disadvantages with the franchise option are restrictions to operating in a specific location and sharing your profit with the franchisor. The franchise agreement will also dictate how you run your business which limits your input and creativity.

Purchasing a franchise can be beneficial in some industries when you want to benefit from the strength of an established brand (i.e. purchasing a Subway franchise if you are going into the sandwich business). In real estate photography, it is usually easier to set up your own business, and your clients will judge you by the quality of your work and not the name of your company or franchise. You are much better off learning the skills you need to produce high-quality work
through practice and saving the money you would have invested in a franchise. Invest this money
into the business to assist with cash flow throughout slow periods, and your marketing budget.

The following lists will assist you in obtaining the required equipment to operate your photography business.

Photography Equipment
▪ DSLR Camera
▪ Wide Angle Lens
▪ Tripod
▪ Speedlight/Flash
▪ UV filter
▪ 64GB Memory Card

Depending on the other services you are providing you will also need the following equipment or you can hire a contractor who already has this equipment.

Floor Plans
▪ Tablet
▪ Infrared laser

Aerial Photography
▪ Drone

3D Tours
▪ 3D Camera
▪ Tripod

Photo by Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd. on Unsplash

▪ Gimbal
▪ Tripod

In addition to the above equipment, you will need working capital to assist you with day-to-day operations such as editing costs, petrol and parking, etc. I believe the best way to start this type of business is, to begin with the bare minimum (i.e. a DSLR camera, tripod and wide angle lens) and then invest the money you earn from your first few jobs back into your business to upgrade your equipment and deploy your marketing strategies.

If you do not already own the equipment necessary and need to purchase additional equipment or cover other expenses related to starting the business (i.e. outsourcing editing, marketing, business registration, etc.) there are many ways to fund these costs.

Personal Savings
In every business always consider yourself as the first investor, either with your cash or with collateral on your assets. There are no interest repayments if you use your savings to pay for start-up costs and you will generally be more invested in the business and its success if you have funded it yourself instead of borrowing other people’s money.

If you have no other source of income when you start your business, ensure that you have an emergency fund saved so that you can afford your living expenses for at least 12 months in case your business does not generate an income as soon as you anticipated. Avoid tapping into this ‘emergency fund’ to pay for business expenses.

Friends and Family
Another source can be your friends and family, also known as “patient capital” which is money that will be repaid sometime in the future as your business profits increase, usually with no interest
depending on your relationship with friends and family.

Be careful when borrowing money from friends and family as they may expect to own a share of the business and if things don’t go to plan and you can’t afford to repay them it can sometimes harm the relationship. Even though the money is borrowed from friends and family, it is still a good idea to prepare a contract before any money is transferred so each party clearly understands what they are getting, if anything.

There are many financial products available to assist with funding your business expenses. Bank loans are the most commonly used source of funding for small and medium-sized businesses with many fixed and variable rate loans offered.

Make sure you review the different financial products available by your current financial institution to decide whether a personal loan or business loan would be best for your situation and be aware of any additional upfront and ongoing fees that the financial institution may charge. Another form
of funding is with equipment finance, which is effectively secured borrowings against new equipment you may require.

Note: This article is an extract from the resources on the Education page on this website.

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