How to Start a Photo Booth Business
Most of us have taken funny photos in a photo booth at some point. It’s fun and captures a memory of an event or just a fun time in your life. Someone is making money every time someone goes into that booth, so why not you? A photo booth business could be a fun and fairly simple way to make some money.
Photo booth Industry Overview
A photo booth rental business places photobooths in malls, events, or gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties, or other social events, where passersby or attendees can take photos in the booth. For events, the person or company holding the event pays a rental fee. The photos are digital and can be printed immediately. It operates like a vending machine.
According to WBOC, the photo booth industry had a market size of $378.2 million as of 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.6% to reach $730.6 million by 2026. The industry was affected by the pandemic due to canceled events and stay-at-home orders but is rebounding as the pandemic winds down.
Party Rental Business
Photo booth rentals for weddings and parties, birthdays, etc are driving the growth of the industry as well as becoming more popular at corporate events. The industry is sensitive to economic fluctuations due to the fact that their rental is considered somewhat of a luxury purchase.
Your target market will be people who are holding events and want to add another element of entertainment for guests.
Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Photo booth Business
There are several specific skills that you will need to open a photo booth business.
- Experience. You need to understand the concept of a photo booth and gain an understanding of its mechanics.
- Business knowledge and experience. You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
- People skills. You’ll need to be able to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and keep them coming back.
Checklist for Starting a Photo booth Business
If you’re thinking about starting a photobooth business, it’s important to do your research first. Here is a checklist to help you get started.
Step 1: Write your Business Plan
After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your business should be to write a photo booth business plan. The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.
Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 2: Name the Business
Finding the perfect photo booth business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name. Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.
Step 3: Form a Business Entity
A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.
When deciding on which business entity is best for a photo booth business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.
A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.
That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.
The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.
Related: 3 steps to forming your LLC
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
Some popular LLC formation services include:
IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!
ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Step 4: Select your Location
Most photo booth businesses will operate out of a home office and store the booth and equipment.
Some will rent a kiosk in a mall to generate awareness and to book appointments.
Related: Choosing a business location
Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits
While there are no licenses specifically for a photo booth business, general business registrations may still apply. Common requirements include a local business license, sales tax permit, and an Employer Identification Number.
Step 6: Find Financing
Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a photo booth business is another. In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.
Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account
Keeping your business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.
Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place
A photo booth business will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a photo booth company include social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, along with online advertising with Google, as well as brochures and flyers.
Developing relationships with event centers, event planners, etc. can turn into a great referral source for additional work.
Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business
Every business is going to need a logo. Make a professional logo in no time with the free logo makers from BrandCrowd and Canva.
Step 9: Get Business Insurance
A photo booth business needs several types of insurance to protect the business. Some of the more common types of insurance include:
– General liability insurance can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage.
– Professional liability insurance protects you from claims of professional errors or negligence that result in a financial loss.
– Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.
Step 10: Hire Employees
You may need to hire employees to help you run the photo booth rental business, or you may choose to be a one-person show. If you don’t have a consistent or regular need for employees, you can consider using a temp service for larger events.
In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.
Related: Hiring your first employee
Step 11: Set up an Accounting System
Setting up an accounting system for your photo booth business is critical to the long-term success of your business.
Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.
How much does it cost to start a photo booth business?
The startup costs for a photobooth are quite low, and you may already have much of the equipment. Here are the typical costs you will face when you open a photo booth business.
– Equipment like a photobooth, camera, printer, props, green screen, backdrops, etc.- $5,000
– Photo editing software – $100 +
– Computer – $1,000-$3,000
– Vehicle for transporting equipment if running a mobile photo booth business – $5,000+
How profitable is a photo booth business?
Your revenue will depend on how many booths you have. The average rental fee is $450, so if you consistently rent it out three times per week, you would make $70,200 annually.
It’s recommended to require customers to pay a deposit upfront to reserve your services. Without a deposit, it’s very common for customers to change their minds at the last minute, leaving your business without an event to generate money from.
Are there grants to start a photo booth business?
It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a photo booth business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.
Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.
What is the NAICS code for a photo booth business?
The NAICS code for a photo booth business is 541920, which is classified under Photographic Services.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.