You love taking pictures. You’ve got a DSLR camera with some great lenses. Everyone says you’re talented, and you have done some freelance photography work. Now, you are ready to take the next step and start your own photography business.

As you transition into your new business, you will need to get more equipment and even more experience. This does not just include photography but also learning about marketing and customer relationship management, setting up business operations and taking more photos than you ever have before.

Here are a few steps to take before opening your business.

Create and Business Plan

The old adage, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there“, applies to starting a business as much as to any other kind of goal setting situation. Draft business goals that define what kind of photography you want to do, who your ideal customers are, what kind of revenue expectations you have and what kind of schedule you want. Use realistic estimates for expenses, peak and down business times and how much time you’d need for management tasks like record keeping, marketing and strategic planning.

With business goals drafted, write a business plan that includes your top business objectives, a mission statement, success factors, financials including assets and startup expenses, service definitions, market analysis, operations plans and profit and loss projections. The Small Business Administration has great references for writing business plans, or you can work with a business coach, lawyer or accountant to prepare your plan.

Build Your Portfolio

Every photographer needs to show their work to showcase their talents and attract clients. A photography portfolio represents your current and best work, and should include the type of photos you want to shoot. For example, if you want to specialize in baby photography, your portfolio needs to be mostly baby portraits.

A good, representative portfolio also is important in developing your marketing strategy including your business website and social media pages. This is where you’ll reach customers, and display your body of work.

Set Up Operations

Once you have laid the ground work, it’s time to set up business operations. Register your business name, develop a logo, set up a website and social media presence, open a business bank account, get business insurance, find an accountant or a bookkeeping software program, create business cards and start advertising.

The SBA advises that you should determine the legal structure for your business such as sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation or S corporation. You may want to take advantage of the SBA’s free business training and counselling services.

As a new photography business owner, you also may want to purchase extra protection for your photos and other important documents through a cloud storage provider. Top 10 Cloud Storage is a great reference because it provides reviews and comparisons of cloud companies, such as Just Cloud, so that you can find the service with the right amount of space with the right price. You can store and manage your startup documents such as contracts, finance documents and marketing plans as well as backup your photo files.