Starting a Business Case Study – with Sophie Skipper Photography

Sophie Skipper is a professional photographer based in Suffolk but also covering Essex and Norfolk. Sophie started Sophie Skipper Photography business in early 2016. In early 2017 she attended Colbea’s first ‘In the Market for Success’ (IM4S) business course and later that year was named ‘Best Young Client’ in the 2017 Colbea Business Awards.

We spoke to Sophie about her journey from the sacrifices of the early days of starting a business, to winning awards and growing her client base to 200 and counting…

I first started my business in February 2016. I studied Photography at uni, and had a number of photography jobs; I worked in London for a year, then as a medical photographer at Basildon Hospital, which I left the department was being dissolved and privatised.

“I was already desperate to go freelance so took a leap and started my business. It was big risk at the time; I had no clients, no money, and flat to pay rent on, but I just went for it!”

I first heard about Colbea when I was taking some photos for the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and met Kate Everett (one of the trainers on Colbea’s IM4S course). Kate said I should take a look at Colbea and recommended the IM4S business course to me.

When I first went on a Colbea business course, I’d been trading just under a year. I went on it to make sure I was on the right track and that I wasn’t missing anything important! I was starting to develop a second business, and the course really help me with that.

“The really positive experience from the course is the support network at Colbea, and the contacts I’ve made.

“I’m always in contact with Colbea! I’ve taken headshots for the new businesswomen on the three IM4S courses so far, and refreshed the profiles for Colbea’s board and staff. I’m very aligned with the agency, and hope to be for a long time.”

 “Because I’d already been trading, the finance and business plan side of my business I’d already overcome, but the marketing stuff was really useful; full of little tips & tricks which were really helpful; links for things like websites, quick and easy design, little resources that Kate & Mandie Holgate (another of the IM4S course trainers) could recommend.”


When Sophie started her business, she had plenty of expertise in photos, but not the experience to match when it came to running a business. Her answer was to throw herself into it and make some big sacrifices…

“Alongside time & money, I had no social life for the first 6 months! I worked all hours. I didn’t have any part time work, I went into my business full time saying, “let’s go for it!” and I put every minute into it. I still do, but I’m more structured now. It’s definitely very challenging, going to networking events early in the morning and working long days, spending lots of time working alone at home in the flat.

“But it was 100% worth it, the best thing I’ve done in my whole life. I’m very proud of it, I enjoy it and have no regrets.”


And the business is certainly keeping Sophie busy…

“In the short term, I’m still working on growing my client base – I’ve now got about 200 clients so the business is growing quite rapidly. But the big, big thing moving forward is launching photography courses. Next year I’m going to be running intensive, one-day photography courses at Wivenhoe House (where Sophie recently picked up her Colbea Business Award). I’ve now started marketing these (available from Sophie’s website, including as gift vouchers), and next year I will be starting a series of online courses, including interactive tuition, videos and more.

“I am also in the process of starting a second business around visual campaigns, which I’m working towards in the next six to twelve months.

“Plus over Christmas I will be running my first photography competition, which I’m really excited about! The challenge is to visually represent the word ‘Winter’ – Be that the changing season, the winter of someone’s life, or an image that represents coldness/darkness… the word is up for any interpretation – and the winner will receive four hours of 1-2-1 photography tuition worth almost £300.”

(To enter send Sophie your photograph, including a short image caption, and your full name and age, at or enter on Twitter using the #hashtag #SSPWinterComp.)

To find out more about Sophie and her thriving business, visit