Lots of advice here , I am not sure how many of them 1. make their sole living from photography, 2. are a sole business owner.
I am both and would like to give you my thoughts, that come from 22 years doing what you propose to do.
Dallmation Labs is a good benchmark, I believe they are who you are referring too
If you feel you are as good as them , then having their competition is better than having none. When I started my small lab in Toronto there were 5 other silver labs, not to mention the other commercial labs. My friends said I was crazy starting out against established labs.
I opened, set my prices in the middle of the pack and started working. You will be amazed at how much support you will find, there is already an established market and people will try you out. If you undercut and deliver same/less quality work you will have a hard go at it as your competitor will figure out a way to snuff you. You will need to charge the same, see below. The established lab has figured this all out for you.
If you charge the same, work your ass off, deliver quality work , you will start sharing clients and see some success.
What concerns me is I am in a the fourth largest city in North America, and frankly the enlarger business is pretty much international based rather than local.
Your competition in NC have digital fibre prints, enlarger prints and as well an international following. I am suggesting that there may not be enough local work to sustain your family, no matter how you present your work as archival benchmark.
If you have other services to offer , like framing, mounting, installation, scanning you will have a much better opportunity to get local business.
If you only see this as a part time business, and you can find some loyal customers then you are good to go..
Here is how I see the business side of thing.
Add up your hard costs, Rent, phones, hydro, water, leases,insurance......
Divide them by 12 and you will see how much you need to produce just to break even.
Then price up your materials, Silver Gelatin btw is probably the most expensive product to work with.
As a small business owner( photographic trade) you will come to the conclusion you will be working 360 of the 365 days of a year, trust me on this one.
You will also need to consider your family and how they will handle your work scheduale. This is very important just ask any owner of a small business that is in the service industry.
You will also need to add in your share of personal financial needs, food, rent or mortgage, kids clothes and teeth.
Adding this all into the equation , then divide that number by 360 and you will see how much per day, per week, per month , per year to survive.
All of this is pre tax , so add in a bookkeeper to take care of that issue.
Any money above this is yours.
If I was to do this over again I would, but here is the one thing I would have changed.. Rather than Rent I would have purchased my space, live above and each time you pay rent you are putting equity into yourself.
Once you become a small business owner you are delegated to the lowest of low when it comes to the banks,so prepare yourself, you may get lucky with them, but try to pay cash for all your purchases and lease when you can.
you will cherish your 6 days off each year.
Originally Posted by rwreich