Two posts in one day! Lucky you... since the last post was more of a comment I wanted to follow up with a post with a bit more "meat" to it.
One of the first things that I think you should do when starting your own business is to define your core values. You can do this before you have a name, before you have even fully decided that you even want to be a business and you should. The sooner the better.
Why is it important to know your core values?
Your core values will influence everything from how you do business to the products that you offer to your company image or "brand". It will allow you to make all kinds of decisions more easily and help you to reinforce your brand in everything that you do. It is important for you to know who you are, and what your company is all about so that you can effectively communicate to the Client what you are all about. If you don't know, how are they going to know and how will you attract the Clients that you are looking for?
Now, you don't have to publish it anywhere or make a big sign. Just sit down and do some thinking about what you think is important. One thing to keep in mind when doing this is that you do need to keep the Client in mind so that you are not pumping tons of time and energy into ultra-cutting edge boudoir photography when you live in a community populated mostly by senior citizens. Not everything you like will be popular in your market, and while I am not saying to sell out or take on an image that is not who you are (please don't) you do need to be cognizant of what your particular market or niche will support.
Next, work your way down to one "Top Priority" and an accompanying list of Core Values.
As an example, my top priority is "Create meaningful, long-lasting client relationships"
My core values that accompany that top priority are:
From that list of values and your top priority you can now create action steps such as:
Always strive to listen attentively and focus solely on the customer during all interactions (In other words no multi-tasking and pay attention)
Return all phone calls and emails within 24 hours.
Develop packages that allow the client to fully customize their experience.
Offer only good quality products that have personality and stand out from the pack.
Knowing my core values helped me decide how to structure my wedding packages, choose my album suppliers, choose which products and services to offer, set my prices, and decide on a theme for my blog.
Once you know your core values you will be amazed at how much easier all of your decisions become. Sit down and give it a few minutes. Good luck!