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To expense or not to expense?

17 Jun

I’ve come to a crossroads where I’d like to buy a new laptop to create my albums instead of asking my husband to lug his home from the office. At the same time, I’d like to upgrade my wonderful text-capable cell phone to a BlackBerry so that I can tweet more often and on the go among other things. The later, however can wait until I’ve gotten a few more things going.

I’m really weighing this one out. Do I work with what I have, which isn’t really getting me too far too quickly mostly because I don’t feel comfortable using someone else’s computer? Or do I bite the bullet and buy my own before I have sought out any clients? I need to get a sample album done at the very least.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever have to weigh this sort of first time business expense. I just feel that if I’m ever to really get this party started I need to rock out with my own gear and hit the ground running with what I have set out to do.

Big box store here I come! It’s time to take this gig seriously and price out some new hardware. Investment first, return second!

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Home is where the work is

11 May

As you can tell I’ve been MIA the last week or so…we were moving into our first (and brand new) home! Hooray for us!!! We had to wait for construction to be completed and so this move has been 9 month in the making… Yikes! I just counted that out! I’ll channel my father in law for a minute “You could have had my first grandchild in the same amount of time.”

Yeah, well…not just yet.

Along side the move came some other great things. First and foremost the business has officially been registered. Splendid Albums, or according to the Quebec business registry; Albums Splendides (alboom splendeed).

So how was it? Not too bad. I’ve gone through worse experiences in my life. To be quite honest, I asked the first lady who served me (in French) for the French version of the form so that I could copy in my information for the English version. Yes you read that right, they don’t accept English forms, it had to be filled in in French. This woman appeared as if I had just asked her to smell the contents of my husband’s hockey bag. She handed me the form and very curtly told me to sit, fill it out, and get a new number. All the while my best friend, who was also registering herself as a freelance photog, was served by the same one person and had to do exactly the same thing.

Finally, the second woman who helped me was very nice and even spoke to me in English, although I made the effort to speak to her in French.

So I’m registered and now I’m looking forward to unpacking and setting up an office in our new place. Something that will inspire creativity, induce emotions and will be a haven for all things albums. I’ve got a few ideas for decorating but it’s a little hard to get some vision at the moment when it’s currently a catch-all for everything we don’t know what to do with.

Step 1 – Unpack. Step 2 – ??. Step 3 – Success!

Moving and Grooving

24 Apr

Dearest readers, I’m very excited to say that there are just a few sleeps left until I become an official business registrant. It’s amazing to think of back to when the idea for Splendid Albums started and how it came about. This is a story I really haven’t told and there’s no better time like the present.

It was November 2009. Wedding bliss was still in the air in our house. We had been married for nearly 4 months, our thank-you cards, still in their cellophane wrapping, stared up at us from the coffee table and talks of our upcoming, much needed, vacation to Mexico were frequent. Our parents had just started asking us about our wedding album…

What to do? I knew exactly the look I wanted – an album with nice paper quality, images printed on the pages, a beautiful cover and a modern layout to enhance the pictures and tell our wedding story.

My natural course of action was to go back to our photographers and price out their albums.

Now, let me preface my strategic moves by stating I’m where I am for a reason, starting this album business. Our photogs are amazing, extremely talented people and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them and the beautiful pictures that came out of our wedding day relationship. There is also no doubt in my mind that their end product of our wedding album would have been an astonishing piece of work. That said, though, after having paid for the wedding and purchased a new condo, you can imagine cash flow was limited. Their prices were a little too high for us…

Facing this dilemma, my mother made the suggestion that I make the album myself, that there are plenty of sites where I could do it on my own for really cheap.

I started thinking, it’s not a bad idea…Never mind that I’ve always had a creative eye for design and a personal passion for photography, I have had work experience in layouts and design.

Along the way in searching for just the right website where I could do it myself, because god knows I didn’t want a cheesy looking album layout with borders and photo treatments; I found nothing that satisfied me. All that’s out there for the DIYer are cheap finishing, basic covers, and a limited number of pages as well as basic paper.

I still wanted this to look like a professional wedding album.

Three months of market research later and here we are: My idea to make my own album has turned into a full-blown business that will offer professional album layouts for both digital images as well as prints that will be scanned and put together in the album style I offer.

I saw a need and I’m filling the void.

All this to say, the last thing I want is to have the perception that I’m stealing business from photographers.

I’m positioning Splendid Albums primarily to offer a service to make design albums for the end users, and also as a referral for photographers to use when they either don’t offer albums.

That stack of pictures you have sitting in the back corner of your closet that you’ve always wanted to get into an album… we’ll take care of scanning, laying-out, and binding (through trusted suppliers) and delivery.

And of course we’ll work with a client’s digitals!

Well that’s Splendid Albums in a nutshell! The next step is to register for a business number on Monday with the wonderful Quebec government. Wish me luck!

Dreaming of reality

18 Apr

I had dinner with my best friend last night and caught her up on the latest and greatest, specifically speaking of my business venture in album making.

My current status has me trying to figure out the ins and outs of the Quebec government and how to officially register the business.

That said, my best friend, who is a freelance photographer, has been putting off registering herself as a business. My ambitious go-getter attitude has her thinking that there’s no better time like the present to get herself officially registered as a business in Quebec, too.

It’s a date! Next Monday, Apr. 26, we’re heading down to the Regis des Entrepreneurs to register our businesses. Things are sometimes better done in pairs and much more fun when you have the support of a close friend to help navigate through the fog of second-language legal jargon.

I have found a great resource on about.com that really broke down what tiers of businesses are available. I have heard though, that all the forms will have to be filled out in French. Not so sure how comfortable I feel about that… especially since this is a huge commitment and not just a restaurant survey.

Stay tuned…

This web page is parked free-courtesy of us

14 Apr

I took the plunge today and went for it. I registered a domain name on GoDaddy.com. How did it go? Pretty well I guess. I have NO IDEA what I’m doing but I do know that the domain name http://www.splendidalbums.com  is mine for the next 5 years for a pretty reasonable price.

Why GoDaddy? I can tell you that Danica Patrick’s cleavage (et al)  had nothing to do with swaying my decision. It was recommended by a friend (check survey box).

I have a personal contact who will be building my web page for me and in return I will build his wedding album, something that he and his wife have put off for several years. Service for service.

Because I’ll be blogging about my webmaster, and will keep things confidential, I’d like to give him an alias, nay, a stage name. Hmmm what to call him? Logan! Just like in Wolverine when Rose was hiding his true identity.

Alright, so Logan (how very General Hospital sounding…) suggested that I use GoDaddy.com. Apparently it’s easy to use, is cheaper than most, and offers lots of hosting options. Whatever that means. You can tell this is really not my domain. Pun totally intended.

I feel like my mom reading a road map…a little overwhelmed… I feel the anxiety starting with the disorganization of not quite knowing where to start. I’ve attempted to register an email address @splendidalbums…I’ll let you know how that turns out.

So far in the business management ‘control center’, I’ve been able to categorize the business. Good thing I can have up to 5 choices-Facebook makes you choose 1. Oh yeah, I’m also on Facebook now! I got that up and running today too.

My whole approach to starting this business is one thing at a time and in no particular order. My starting point happens to be WP. And why not its 100% free, so is Facebook and Twitter. So now that I’ve made my first business expense (and in the correct tax year might I add…yes I was thinking ahead there) I can and should get myself a business number. QC government, here I come. I bet the forms will all be in French.

Anyway, a little off topic. I took a pretty big step today and I wanted to share it with you. I have a ways to go and figure out tonight, like how to get something up that is representative of my business and not just a GoDaddy.com business directory card, albeit, it’s better than nothing. The good thing is that it already links up right here to the blog! I tested it out. I’m very hands on.

There’s an option to use a template which will be a good option in the interim until Logan and I have a sit down to build out my vision.

Market Research

9 Apr

As with any business, market research is of utmost importance if you plan on surviving and growing in a competitive market. The question is how do you do it efficiently to cover all of your bases?

You need a starting point. My starting point in any search is ‘ole faithful Google. (Side note-I feel that Bing isn’t quite there and I’m much more familiar and comfortable with Google’s platform.) Make a list of related words and check them off as you go. This will help you keep track of what you’ve looked up; we all know search engines have a tendency of taking us to places we did not intend, sometimes for the better.

Next, once you’ve got your list, make sure you have a goal. “Today I want to research pricing out my product. I’ll do this by looking at a variety of sites ranging from professional photographers and album suppliers to do-it-yourself album websites.”

Bookmark along the way! You can easily get caught up in looking for what you think you should be looking for and completely miss out on some great information along the way. I like to bookmark pages I stumble upon to come back to at a later day when I’m focused on another area of my market research.

I find it’s easier to do it in spurts of under an hour, take a break for a couple of days, let the information seep in and you might even find that you come up with a new direction or idea. That’s the beauty of research! You’re supposed to explore the territory.

Accidental research has lead to a lot of really important discoveries; Post-it Notes, Gravity, Golden-doodles… Where will it lead you?

I hear the question coming: How long should my market research take me? When do I know I’m done? In truth, you’re never done. Any successful business owner/executive/marketer will tell you that the search is always on for the next idea to keep you not just in the market, but ahead of the curve or hopefully leading the game.