Retiring into a whole new career

Venture Photography offers bespoke experiences in its 55 studios across the UK, as well as a further seven studios in Dublin, Hong Kong and Connecticut, USA, with plans to significantly expand its presence globally over the next few years.

Each Venture studio in the UK photographs around 1,000 clients per year, who spend on average £700. Last year Venture turned over circa £44 million, making it the most successful personal photography company in the UK.

A franchise owner agreement with Venture lasts five years and each franchise owner is allocated an exclusive 'territory'. Once signed, a new UK franchise owner will go through an initial six-week intensive programme.

All Venture franchise owners are provided with support, training and marketing from the launch of their business and beyond, with specific focus on commercial performance and photographic standards, innovation and techniques.

To be a successful Venture franchise owner, the studio will be run as their sole business (a prerequisite by Venture). They will also have good management skills including experience of leading a small team and an understanding of small business finance and administration. An interest in photography is also key - as is dedication to the business and a passion to make it work.

A Venture franchise not only presents an exciting business opportunity, it also offers a creative working environment and an insight into the lives of real people. Often this skill set is found in people over the age of 50 who previously have been in management roles and instead of taking early retirement are looking for a change in career which offers flexibility and a greater sense of fulfilment, as one of the company's recent additions found out.

Rod Broad, 59, owns the Venture studio in Knightsbridge, which he bought in December 2008 after a company takeover - the third in his business career - encouraged him to re-evaluate his life. This could have been an opportunity for Rod to take early retirement but instead he wanted a fresh challenge.

Rod and his family had been first introduced to Venture over 10 years ago when they took part in their own experience at a studio in Twyford, Berkshire. The pictures they bought reflect a memorable time in Rod's family life, when his children were young and before his wife passed away.

The idea of combining Rod's management experience with his love of photography took him to the Venture stand at the NEC franchise exhibition in Birmingham, where he discussed the possibility of owning a Venture Franchise, with its Franchise Development Director Mark Witter.

Although Rod was offered a selection of franchises, he took on the Knightsbridge studio as it already had a team in place including three highly qualified photographers and a Studio Operations Manager.

"I own the studio with my son Mike, who has a degree in photography and runs the business with both me and the Studio Operations Manager. I would encourage anyone of a similar age who is considering their options to buy into a franchise like Venture, as you have the support of the brand but the flexibility to work in a way that suits you. It's a fantastic life."

Rod enjoys working with his team and from the start they worked well together, promoting the business and encouraging people to take part in their own Venture experience through advertising in shopping centres and hosting open days and exhibitions. Now, after one year of trading, the business is making a profit. Each Venture portrait tells a story and Rod encourages his photographers to portray this in each picture they take.

Surprisingly, potential franchise owners do not need to have photography qualifications to forge a successful career with Venture, says Mark Witter.

"A passion for groundbreaking, distinctive and quality photography is essential but first and foremost we look for individuals who have the necessary drive, enthusiasm and business acumen to make their studio a success," he says.

Mark adds: "Rod is a good example of how an interest in photography and management experience can be applied to running a successful franchise. In his first year, despite a difficult economic climate, the studio is making a profit and we expect over the next few years this will grow substantially. Age is no barrier to success."

Initial Investment Requirement

From £20,000 - £50,000