I’m happy to welcome Ingrid Abraham of Candid Creativity, an innovative photography company, to our chat over a cuppa this Saturday morning. Ingrid came to this series via a Facebook networking group where Mel Carpenter had been talking about her interview, and decided to submit her answers to me. I’m always happy to receive speculative interview responses, although I reserve the right to edit them or not to publish them at all if they’re not suitable, but of course Ingrid’s was eminently suitable and she has some very sensible things to say about starting a business in an economic downturn, and having fallen into the business, she shares lessons learned about marketing plans and NOT playing safe!
Read on to find out more …
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
I established Candid Creativity in January 2010.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Ironically, I think that setting up a business in the middle of a recession is a good move because it’s a viable alternative to employment due to job shortages.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I’ve been a very keen photographer since the age of seven, and based on the quality of some of the work I’ve seen, I believe I have something different (and better) to offer.
Had you run your own business before?
N,o but my background is in accountancy so I’ve learned a lot from the business people I’ve worked with over the years
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I took voluntary redundancy, not to start a business, but just because I needed to escape! My original plan was to indulge myself with a few months of travel and photography and then return to full-time employment.
However, I started getting more and more photography bookings which then convinced me that I could really make a go of it.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Get to grips with marketing – make a list of potential marketing strategies which can be developed as the business evolves.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Don’t be afraid to turn work away!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish that I’d been bolder right from the start, which is actually more in keeping with my personality. In my former careers I was far from conventional and that’s what made me successful, but I started my business by playing safe, which actually slowed my initial growth.
What are you glad you did?
I chose my business name carefully, got a professionally designed logo and established my brand.
What’s your top business tip?
Network or die!
How has it gone since you started?
I’ve only ever previously worked in full-time employment, so it’s been scary at times. Having to source my own work and not having a guaranteed income was a major shock to the system. On reflection, I’ve experienced continuous growth, although it was slow at first, so I have a lot to be thankful for.
Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I have grown in terms of workload, but I’ve fine-tuned my services. I have chosen to specialise in weddings, portraits and events – less is more.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I’ve had photographs published in national newspapers and magazines, but I want to be more established closer to home, exhibiting at local wedding fairs and to being the preferred photographer for a few local event promoters. I want to see my work regularly appearing on clients’ blogs, websites and social media. I’m also a qualified teacher, so I want to set up regular photography workshops aimed at teenagers.
It looks like Ingrid’s got some exciting plans there – I particularly like the idea of the photography workshops for teenagers. More and more photographs are taken every year, and it’s a great hobby for young people. It’s interesting to see Ingrid refining her offering as she goes along – we’re all guilty of taking on too much and too wide a portfolio at the beginning, and refinement and optimisation is the way I’ve gone, too.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.