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Wow! How time flies. All of a sudden I have owned and run my own company for five years...

When we started this oddity back in March 2011 there were three of us, hence the name 3Objectives. Like in all walks of life, business takes many twists and turns. Some you can deal with yourself, some you need to ask for help with: professional or sometimes just friends or family.

I have had the good fortune to meet over the years many good people who have passed on some great advice, one of those being my business guru Alex Petty. Alex runs his own business coaching company, supporting entrepreneurs of all ages and experience. Alex has passed on invaluable information over the years.

Having a good accounts team behind you is also a must, and Andrew Bowtle has been more than helpful in guiding us through the pitfalls of business. My brother Mark, who operates in big business, has been a pillar of strength. Then there has been my Dad, who lent me the funds to buy the equipment to help set up, and my wife Kim, who has had to live with me!

I also have clients who over the years have become friends. Two such people are Laura and Rosie, two sisters, one who works for Good Housekeeping magazine, the other runs her own boutique model and creative agency Scout Management. Both these ladies have been helpful in supporting my venture over the five years.

The good mates who have their own companies (Nic Burrell at Kube and I go back 35 years), they help you when you are down, they keep telling you how good you are, keep encouraging you when you think it may not work. Jo Wills, who has her own retouching salon, we worked together on E6 film back in the day for the then WT Graphics, my first job.

Many people call you randomly and amongst the junk calls there is always a diamond. One such call we received was from a rates rebate company that contest with your local council that they are overcharging for the unit you are working in. Our studio for example has no windows, so the company contested this on a no win no fee contract with Lambeth council. After a two year battle they won, and we received a £14,000 rebate!

As a small company your biggest challenge is to try to spread yourself evenly across the many areas of your business. This can become very tough and can lead to many more hours spent working than you first imagined. I for instance knew I would have to work solidly for the first three years, which would include taking no holidays. Five years later and I'm still waiting for that next holiday - but this could be the year!

If I could list the amount of people who have helped me along the way, it would be as long as my arm, and back. But, we also like to return the favour.

3Objectives enjoy helping people, particularly youngsters who seem to be getting a rough ride on the employment ladder these days. l set up a work experience programme for students who require 2-3 days work experience as part of their education course. This is with the local, and not so local, job centre in Southend-on-Sea.

From this scheme we now have our trusted freelancer Lee Murrells, who works with us on many projects. Lee is just one part of the 3Objectives team. The others being in-house retoucher Glyn, photographer and videographer Aneta, accountant Sharon, plus a pool of freelancers. All these guys play a massive part in your success (or failure), and it's like a marriage, you have to work at it, and trust these people to do a good job as your reputation depends on it.

If people were to ask me what is the biggest change over the five years, it would have to be the advancement in technology, which now allows everyone to take a picture (and has in a lot of ways undermined our industry).

Clients now request images at an even faster rate than ever before, and at even lower prices. Technology has brought with it the demanding increase in social media requirements. Images are uploaded immediately and flashed around the globe in seconds. This has created a new market place in which to sell.

Big companies have grasped this, and invest in quality images. Smaller ones may ask an employee or intern if they enjoy taking pictures, and if so, would they like to upload their images to the company's blog or social media sites, thus cutting the professional photographer out.

It is understandable, as the pressures on all budgets these days to cover everything required of a company large, medium or small is immense. But are you showing your company in its best light?

Finally, after five long solid years, and the massive roller coaster ride that is called 'Business', our light at the end of the tunnel is ready to shine brightly in the form of a partnership with pre-press company Ec2i, an established company based in Southend-on-Sea that would like to extend their business in London.

Between us we are going to offer a photographic studio, film, proof reading, retouching, and an image tracking device for clients that is unique to Ec2i-Renaissance.

Please save Thursday 28th April when the partnership launch party will take place at the studio.

Thanks to all again, and I have a feeling the ride isn't over just yet!

Paul Downes -
3Objectives Director & Photographer