Shonna Green and Shervin Campbell are the founders of CamPhoto, a photography business specialising in PR, corporate, awards and graduation ceremonies and sports and social events.
Childhood friends, Shonna and Shervin first had the idea of collaborating to start their own business after freelancing for other people for a few years. Their combined passion for photography meant that they were able to create a successful business that has seen them grow in ways they could never have imagined – partnering with others and bringing on a team of freelancers to cover jobs all over the South East of England.
We spoke to Shonna about starting and running a photography business in a competitive market.
‘I set up the business because I wanted to be that person – the one that motivates, stands out. I wanted the financial freedom and being in a managerial role while I was employed gave me the confidence to become my own boss.’
‘I thought the process of setting up my Limited Company was going to be a lot harder than it was. I thought it would be a long and difficult process that involved a lot of questions, and a lot of paperwork. But setting up through The Formations Company made it so easy. They walked me through the process and within less than an hour I was a registered business owner!’
Help at hand
‘I was surprised by how much help there was at hand, especially for a small business starting up. I got advice from my bank who directed me to other companies who could help, and I attended a lot of networking meetings. I was really overwhelmed by the support as I had thought that the process was going to be much harder.’
‘Running my own business gives me the chance to meet fun and exciting people at a lot of different events. I think that’s the thing I enjoy most about owning my own business. Knowing that my hard work isn’t only benefitting me by helping to grow my business, but others too.’
‘If you’re looking to start your own business, my advice would be to just take the risk and do it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done!’
‘The depth of responsibility that lies on your shoulder as a business owner is huge – and probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned owning and running a small business. I’ve also had to learn the best ways to negotiate but it’s all made worthwhile when I see my ideas come to life and watching other people smile from the work that I’ve done for them.’
Running a business
‘Managing cashflow can be hard as a business owner, especially as you have to do and think about so many other things – often all at once. But right now, I’m managing it quite well. I’ve had a lot of help from my business bank manager and my accountant. Getting people in to help you with the important tasks you know little about just makes it so much easier. Finance isn’t something you really want to get wrong when the cost of it could be your whole business.’
‘My top 3 priorities are sourcing and securing jobs, making my clients happy and delivering a world-class service to every customer. We like to bring in as much repeat business as we can, so providing a good service first and foremost is one of the biggest drivers that bring our customers back.’
‘I like to think that I make a difference to the lives of my customers by helping them create memories they can keep for a lifetime in the form of a photograph. A memento that never fades or changes with time.’
Marketing, Brexit and staying relevant
‘I market the business in various ways. We have a website; I post on forums and hand out leaflets advertising the business to new customers. I don’t have any employees, I just hire freelancers to help me when I need them, and usually they come recommended through online forums if I’ve not worked with them before.’
‘Staying relevant and keeping on top of an industry that’s ever-changing can be challenging and is probably the biggest issue that I face running the business. But having a passion for what I do, being confident in my decision making and taking risks helps.’
‘We still don’t know how Brexit is going to affect the business just yet. It’s an issue for a lot of small businesses. If I’m honest the economy is so shaky and changeable, I think it will lessen the market, particularly in our industry.’
If you’re thinking about setting up your own business and becoming your own boss like Shonna, it’s easier than you might think. We’ve helped more than 750,000 people turn their passion into their purpose. Find out more about making your business idea a reality here.