CETLE Entrepreneur case study questions

By Tracy Ford,2014-10-23 09:39
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CETLE Entrepreneur case study questions

    John Tudor Photography

What service or product does the company provide?

    I run a freelance photography business. I take pictures of things that people

    want pictures taken of although I made the decision recently that I don’t want to go into the wedding market because that’s a specific market with a lot of specialists and I would rather not be a generalist in a specialist area. I don’t

    do portraiture in a studio either. The overheads of a studio are probably

    ?70,000 to ?100,000 per year on the high street so you’ve got to take a lot of

    pictures and charge a lot of money to stay open as a business. It’s a high client turnover type of business and that’s not what I’m interested in. I’ve also started doing some freelance assisting i.e., working with a much

    more established photographer on advertising campaigns for clients such as

    PR companies.

How do you find your business?

    Well, I’m relatively new to this so as you can imagine, it’s a vertical learning curve. I have an advert in Yellow Pages and I’ve signed up to which

    cost ?500 but one good job will pay for that. I’ve registered for a few things

    which are free and I’ve got a ?120.00 membership to a photographers on-line site so hopefully some business will come from there. I have a website too and I’ve done things for free such as

    photograph a big musical production at Bretton Hall Campus. That way you

    get in the list of thanks and credits so that’s useful advertising.

What is the current ownership structure of the business?

    I’m a sole-trader. It isn’t set up as a limited company and there aren’t any directors or share-holders. I looked into all that but I don’t think it’s worth it at the moment because it changes the way you do your tax returns and I want to

    keep things as simple as possible at the moment.

Tell us about how you got started.

    I never wanted an office-based job, I wanted a job where I could travel and

    meet different people and work for myself. I’d graduated from Leeds

    University with an Arts Management Degree and I needed to decide what I

    was going to do. The technical side of photography had always interested me

    and I wanted to know a lot more about the industry. It does involve a lot of

    Arts Management because I am managing myself as an Arts Professional and

    so my degree is very relevant. A couple of friends in particular said look,

    photography is what you are obviously passionate about so why don’t you try and do that, you’ve got nothing to lose really. It’s very much a case of

    learning as you go along and of course learning to motivate yourself as well. inspiring enterprise 4 all

    There’s the whole transition from being at University to having a job but it’s an exciting transition. The buzz that you get when you’ve done a job and it’s

    gone well and you know your client is pleased, well that’s a great feeling.

    Graduate and Student Businesses 4x

    This case was researched and written with funding from WR CETL Enterprise at Leeds. It may be used

    freely with HE students. Suggestions, enquires and updates should be directed to Page 1 of 4

What about the financial aspect?

    I took out a small bank loan, the bank invested on a matching funds basis in

    terms of what I put in and I had quite a donation from my family to buy

    equipment. I bought three cameras, a computer and a printer. It’s an A3

    photo printer, very useful but not cheap! I’ve been looking at an even better

    one but I don’t have the money to buy it or the jobs to warrant it at the


Did you have another job when you started the business?

    No, I went straight in. My dad suggested, why don’t you get a job and do the

    photography on the side and build it up? But I don’t think that was ever going

    to happen, it’s not a conducive way to turn a hobby into a profession. I think

    that people make the mistake of thinking that maybe you can build it up in

    your spare time but for me it would never have worked like that.

What barriers were there to becoming self-employed?

    I’ve found it quite easy actually, I haven’t really found that anything has got in

    my way. I use a bank-recommended accountant, his yearly fee is pretty small

    and he sorted out my self-employment status and national insurance status

    and that sort of thing. I decided early on that that was the way I wanted to play

    it with official things like forms and the Inland Revenue. I keep records but

    there comes a point where I just hand it all over to my accountant. I need to

    concentrate on what I’m good at so I pay him what I consider to be a reasonable fee to do something that would take me a lot longer.

What are your plans for the future of the business?

    I’m looking about two years ahead at the moment. I’ve thought a lot recently

    about whether I want to become an established generalist in a geographical

    area or if I want to go higher up the photographic chain and work on a more

    corporate level for businesses.

Can you tell us a little about your general background?

    When I left school after A Levels I took a gap year which involved teaching

    drama. I taught drama for a year in the school which I went to which was an

    interesting opportunity. It was fascinating and a real vertical learning curve. I

    had six classes of eleven and twelve year olds and I also did lots of

    departmental administration. I was sort of assistant to the Director of Drama.

    After that I still wasn’t ready to go to University and I decided that I would like

    to learn French so I moved to Paris, or as near to Paris as I could afford.

    I did a course at the University for International Students. The only trouble

    with International Students is that their main common language is English so

    you spend a lot of time speaking English. My French is ok but I didn’t get to be inspiring enterprise 4 all as fluent as I hoped. When I came back to England I ended up with a really

    nice job in Public Relations for the Navy in Portsmouth where I come from. I

    was only there for about three months but it was very interesting. At that point

    Graduate and Student Businesses 4x

    This case was researched and written with funding from WR CETL Enterprise at Leeds. It may be used

    freely with HE students. Suggestions, enquires and updates should be directed to Page 2 of 4

I applied for University. I decided I was finally ready and went to University

    College, London to do Philosophy. After about three months I realised that it

    wasn’t really for me and the combination of Philosophy and London was a bit

    too weird. I dropped out, it was quite a traumatic time. Throughout those early

    years I had also been working in the arts in Portsmouth, related mainly to the

    school that I went to. I’d twice managed a fledgling arts festival so I realised

    after the London disaster that perhaps I should do an Arts Management

    course so that’s how I ended up in Leeds.

What skills or knowledge do you have that make you suited to self-


    Stoicism maybe, bravery in the face of adversity! I think my Arts experience

    and doing Drama teaches you a lot about people and how to communicate

    with them. That’s very important. Whatever you are trying to do, I’m a strong

    believer in being nice to people. If you are fair then people will do anything for

    you. I think it’s to do with confidence and you need to have a tremendous awareness of people as well. Also, I think that having tried a variety of things,

    you know what you don’t want to do in terms of a career and that can be very conducive to self-employment

What reaction did you receive from people around you when you

    decided to start a business?

    My family have been very supportive. My father was a doctor, he’s retired now but he has always been supportive of an entrepreneurial spirit and following

    something that you want to do. He wanted to be in medicine and so that’s what he did. My sister wanted to be a vet so that’s what she did.

Are you a risk-taker?

    Yes, I suppose so. I mean it was a risk doing this in the first place. I went on

    an entrepreneurial summer school run by Leeds Met and we were all asked

    why we wanted to start our own businesses. One guy stood up and said, ‘I’ve been surrounded by security all my life, I just want some risk!’ I thought, yes, why do we want to be secure all the time? I don’t have huge assets behind me so I don’t have much to lose. If it all goes completely wrong it all goes

    completely wrong but the chances are it won’t so hurrah for risk! It does make you feel more alive I think. I’ve met so many people who could be doing a lot

    more for themselves. They don’t like their job and at the weekend they spend

    their free time in the pub or whatever, moaning about how much they don’t

    like work and I think, well that’s your whole life, you know and I never want to be like that. People do get addicted to having a salary though. I’ve only had a salary once, when I was teaching and the security of a salary is enormous. It’s like your teddy bear at night, you don’t want to give it up.

     inspiring enterprise 4 all

    How do you identify your competitors?

    You have to do your research. When I went to the bank for my loan I had

    already researched how many photographers there were in this area. There

    Graduate and Student Businesses 4x

    This case was researched and written with funding from WR CETL Enterprise at Leeds. It may be used

    freely with HE students. Suggestions, enquires and updates should be directed to Page 3 of 4

are plenty of photographers but a lot of people I’m not in competition with, for

    example, wedding photographers. My strength is not having the overheads of

    a studio and the fact that I can go to customers rather than then coming to me.

What are your weaknesses?

    I think it’s very easy to lose your motivation. I am trying to be tougher on myself otherwise you can have days where you achieve nothing. I think I

    need to be a little bit more aggressive, not outwardly but in a sort of unseen

    way whilst still looking polite and still being tenacious.

What threats are there for your business?

    Not making enough money would mean the end of the business but hopefully

    that won’t happen. It’s a very busy market with many different sectors and levels of the industry. The main thing is making sure that people know I am

    here and what I have to offer.

What facilities are available to you here at the university to help you?

    The Spark Office has always been enormously helpful. It’s a great place to

    come because there are so many other people doing the self-employment

    thing in different areas but with common problems. At the office there is a

    desk for you and you have free Internet access for the period that you are

    there, which I think is for up to a year, and a free outward telephone line. I did

    on the Entrepreneurial Summer School through the Spark program. It was

    a five day event with networking event and business start-up advice. One of

    the best things they did was they brought in real life entrepreneurs, people

    who had been running businesses for a couple of years. They came in with

    real problems and we tried to give them real answers so it was very much


Do you have a mentor?

    Well funnily enough at the moment I’m setting up a meeting with someone

    who has agreed to be a mentor for Arts related businesses. I’m not

    specifically Arts related so I’ll have to work out whether he is the right person

    to spend time with but really anyone that has run a successful business is a

    useful mentor.

     inspiring enterprise 4 all

    Graduate and Student Businesses 4x

    This case was researched and written with funding from WR CETL Enterprise at Leeds. It may be used

    freely with HE students. Suggestions, enquires and updates should be directed to Page 4 of 4

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