Arts and Entertainment

Wildlife Photographer

My name is Lori Davis and I’m a photographer.  I began meeting some time ago with counselors from the Downeast Maine SCORE office.  Although I had been working at my photography business for years, I was anxious to make the plunge to a full time career as a freelance photographer.  Specializing in nature, wildlife & landscape imagery, my chosen field is not in demand as much as one who photographs portraits or weddings on a regular basis, so I knew it wouldn't be easy.

Owner/Founder
Lori A. Davis, Photographer
My Location
PO Box 897
Ellsworth ME 04605
United States
My Successes

 

 
My name is Lori Davis, and I’m a photographer.  I began meeting some time ago with counselors from the Downeast Maine SCORE office.  Although I had been working at my photography business for years, I was anxious to make the plunge to a full time career as a freelance photographer.  Specializing in nature, wildlife & landscape imagery, my chosen field is not in demand as much as one who photographs portraits or weddings on a regular basis, so I knew it wouldn't be easy.
 
Although my business was profitable and expanding every year, when I put my finances to paper, my condition looked dreadful.  As with many businesses, I was investing my earnings back into the business again.  When it came to tax time, once I took all of the deductions into consideration, it made one wonder how on earth I could survive on so little income.
 
The SCORE counselors were enthusiastic and energetic right from the start.  They didn't sugar coat things, but they seemed to believe in my work and my business sense and came up with some great promotion ideas.  One counselor in particular was indispensable when it came to organizing a business plan.  He was able to dig through my finances and really prove that my business was indeed profitable.  He went above & beyond what I ever could have expected in providing help and guidance putting together a business plan. With his assistance, I was able to approach my bank and even impress the bank officer with my paperwork and portfolio.  I was granted a business loan which allowed me to invest in materials, supplies and equipment that I needed to expand my business.
 
It's been several years now since I was able to quit my previous job.  I am living my dream and I have the folks at SCORE to thank.  I truly never would have been able to get the bank loan without their guidance.  I walked into their office frustrated, needing help and embarrassed by my finances.  The experience was pleasant and I learned a lot.  With their guidance and my hard work and follow through, I'm proud to say I'm one of the many success stories of SCORE.
 
Thank you for letting me tell my story.

 

What's Great About My Mentor?

One counselor in particular was indispensable when it came to organizing a business plan.  He was able to dig through my finances and really prove that my business was indeed profitable.  He went above & beyond what I ever could have expected in providing help and guidance putting together a business plan. With his assistance, I was able to approach my bank and even impress the bank officer with my paperwork and portfolio. 

How SCORE Helped

The SCORE counselors were enthusiastic and energetic right from the start.  They didn't sugar coat things, but they seemed to believe in my work and my business sense and came up with some great promotion ideas.

Before you launch into your own business, there are dozens of details to be considered - from the momentous to the almost (but not quite) trivial.  Here is a checklist covering many items you need to take care of.

Preliminary Research

  • assess your strengths and weaknesses
  • establish business and personal goals
  • assess your financial resources
  • identify the financial risks
  • determine the start-up costs
  • decide on your business location
  • do market research
  • identify your customers
  • develop a marketing plan

Business Transactions

  • select a lawyer
  • decide on business organization-proprietorship, partnership, corporation
  • create your business-register your name, get incorporated
  • select an accountant
  • prepare a business plan
  • get financing
  • establish a line of credit
  • select an insurance agent
  • obtain business insurance

First Steps

  • design and order business cards
  • obtain a lease
  • get furniture and equipment
  • review local building codes
  • obtain a license or permit (if applicable)
  • send off for federal and state tax forms
  • apply for Employer Identification number (if applicable)
  • join a professional organization
  • line up suppliers if needed
  • set a starting date

 Business Plan

The most important reason to do a Business Plan is for you to become convinced that you can turn your idea or dream into a real functioning business. Until you have satisfied yourself that your plan "makes sense", you shouldn't even think of trying to sell anyone else. Once you're convinced you can make your idea work then you can show it to lenders and prospective investors. A Business Plan is not a "one-time" document just for obtaining investors or financing. You should consider it to be a "living document" which you will update and upgrade from time to time as information and circumstances change and as appropriate as you thus make changes in your business.

A Business Plan/Financial Plan is an absolute necessity in applying for a loan for a start-up business and is highly recommended in applying for a loan for an existing business.

How do you do it? It's not easy. And it's unlikely you can just sit down and produce a good plan in one sitting because a lot of trial and error and testing of ideas is involved. It will most likely evolve over a period of time.

How? Think about your business idea often and ask yourself these questions about every aspect of it. Who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, how?, how much?, how many?, how often? Write down the answers. Look for "holes". It's easy to list all kinds of ideas. Do you have the knowledge and resources to carry them out cost effectively? Are you "double counting" your resources, counting on them to do two different things at the same time?

Why do you want to pursue a particular part of your plan? Who will carry it out? When? Where? How much will it cost? How many sales will each marketing campaign generate? How does the cost to acquire a prospect, make a sale, or provide the product or service compare to your product or service pricing parameters?

Visualize some "typical days". What is being done? Why ? Who is doing it? Ask and answer these questions over and over until you are convinced you know how your business will function day-to-day. Now capture this knowledge in your plan and show how it will work financially. Make changes in your plan until you have a plan where all the elements fit together and work from a marketing, operational, and financial perspective.

There is no single prescribed format for a Business Plan. However, we believe many of you will find the format shown below to be helpful. You should feel free to adjust it to your unique circumstances.

A SCORE Counselor will be glad to assist you by reviewing your business plan draft(s) and giving you constructive comments. This can be accomplished in face to face meetings or by exchanging emails of sections of the plan as you write them. Use of a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Works is recommended.

 

Haven Art Group Finds Success with SCORE

Drawing on her experience as a paintings specialist at Sotheby’s of London, a supervisor of appraisers at Chubb Insurance and director of the art services division of American International Group, where she advised on the management and protection of private art collections worth from $10 million to $1.2 billion, Claire Marmion started her own business, Haven Art Group, in 2009. The purpose of the business is to provide art management services for high net worth individuals with major art collections and for internationally-known art collectors, as well as art claims services for major insurers.  Claire  refers to herself as “a curator for hire”.

In October 2008, Claire came to SCORE seeking help in getting her business off the ground.  As Claire said, “I first stumbled onto Score completely by accident through a friend’s recommendation.  It was one of the most brilliant discoveries of my first year in business—a bright glow while wading through the slow and sticky tar that is building and then running your own office for the first time.”

To learn more about Claire’s business, see her website at http://www.havenartgroup.com

Owner/Founder
Claire Marmion
My Successes

Since its founding, Haven Art Group has grown substantially, opening offices in New York and Chicago.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Her primary SCORE counselor has been Mitchell Morris, with whom Claire has been working on a monthly basis.  According to Claire, “Mitch and the SCORE team were absolutely vital in keeping me focused, in providing tips for maintaining discipline and solving problems in bite-sized chunks—a business partner to brainstorm ideas with.  And it’s not over yet.  I hope I shall be sapping their energy for many prosperous business deals to come.”

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