Capital Region SBDCSacramento SBDC

All the effort was worth it and we were glad for the expert help and information provided, free of charge, by the Capital Region SBDC.

Steven Styles

Independent photojournalist & photographer since 2005, Steven Styles is a Northern California native--member of Nikon NPS Pro & NPPA--member of the California Capitol Press Corps.


Starting an independent photojournalism & photography company in today’s market may seem like a Herculean task (it is) but couple that goal with an ardent desire to operate as lean and mean and debt-free as possible, and our photography company, Belator Media, faced nearly insurmountable odds.

We knew the direction we wanted to go – stand out from the veritable sea of wedding and portrait photographers by staying true to our photojournalism style, and finance the business by pursuing an angle the average photography company might shy away from – government contracts. While we knew our goals, we didn’t know where to begin. We needed expert help in knowing how to get on the various municipality, city, state and federal vendor lists, what qualifications we’d need and how to get them. This giant burden was made a bit lighter by the help our company received from the Capital Region SBDC.

Just a few weeks after signing up on the website, I was in a meeting with SBDC experts. One by one they approved of our honed direction, skipped over the pep talks, and gave tips and knowledge of how we could achieve our specific goals. I met with a professor who took one look at our photojournalistic style portfolio and told us we had a “high-quality product” and not to reduce our prices; she shared her extensive knowledge of market trends and responded to my progress emails with polite encouragement.

Our greatest obstacle was our own ignorance of how to go about getting Small Business Certified and becoming an official governing body vendor. The next expert we met with had extensive experience with government contracting, and over the next weeks showed us how to get certified and approved for doing business with cities, the state, and the federal government. This saved us countless hours of research and lost time.

Armed with our new information, we tackled the mounds of paperwork and got certified as a California small business and subsequently have been listed as a state, local and federal vendor for photography & photojournalism. All the effort was worth it and we were glad for the expert help and information provided, free of charge, by the Capital Region SBDC.


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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.