How to create strong foundations in your life and business

Many of us in our busy lives don’t give enough thought, attention or time to all the areas mentioned above and often we’re find we’re feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, and exhausted both mentally and physically. If we are often missing key areas of our own well being, it’s no surprise then that so many photographers are struggling to create successful photography businesses.

When we think of our health, we tend as a whole to think primarily of our physical health. Many articles have of course been written on the benefits of taking a more holistic and well balanced approach to looking at our health. That means giving our mental, emotional and spiritual health as much intent as our physical health.

If you break down just physical health, you’ll find that nutrition, exercise, enough sleep, etc are all important ingredients in the recipe of good health. You can even break down exercise into stretching, breathing, cardio, strength training etc.

The funny thing is that so many of us in our busy lives don’t give enough thought, attention or time to all the areas mentioned above and often we’re find we’re feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, and exhausted both mentally and physically.

If we are often missing key areas of our own well being, it’s no surprise then that so many photographers are struggling to create successful photography businesses.

A business is much like our own lives. It needs fuel, maintenance and appropriate investment of time and attention if we expect to see it flourish and become a viable and sustainable career.

If you find yourself in a place where all the dots don’t feel like they connect, maybe it’s time for a reboot much like a 30 day challenge in the health industry.

A 30 day challenge is just a tactic designed to have us focus on nutrition and exercise so that we can start to feel better. The reality though is that just focusing on what we eat and how we exercise will not be enough if we are sleeping poorly. It’s important to look at all the links in the chain to see if there are any weak areas that need to be fixed or replaced.

For example, getting our pricing in the right place to be profitable is a good thing but without confidence and an understanding of sales along with a healthy assortment of sample products we might be spinning our wheels.

In preparing to write this article I have reflected on how much has changed for me over the years in the way I run my own photography business. I’m reminded of the saying, “ the more things change, the more they stay the same.” While the tactics of how I do things in my business have changed quite a bit, I’d say that the strategies for success are pretty much the same as the ones I employed when I first started my business over thirty years ago.

Here’s what hasn’t changed for me as a photographer and business owner:

  1. The importance of the craft and producing great imagery consistently.
  2. The need to be organized and implementing reliable, repeatable systems.
  3. Using and sticking to a schedule with time chunks allocated to specific tasks rather than taking a random approach to work.
  4. Creating a superior customer experience – Being a better listener than a talker
  5. Having confidence in my work, and my value and pricing my work unapologetically for that value.
  6. Having confidence and at the same time keeping my ego in check.
  7. Understanding that sales is just creating a desire for my services and products and helping clients to buy those things cheerfully. Be committed to providing quality samples to create the desire.

Let’s take a close look at the first point, the importance of the craft and producing great imagery consistently.

Some photographers make that their first and most important priority and give less time to the admin and business areas of their studio. They have a “Field of Dreams” approach to business. They have a, “If you build it they will come” mentality. They think that if the just produce the most beautiful work possible then customers will know down their doors. They are often perplexed why their beautiful work doesn’t provide a bigger income. They put all their eggs in the basket of being an incredible photographer and fall down on the other equally important areas that need their attention.

On the other side of the coin you have some photographers who love marketing and branding and looking at numbers but have just picked up a camera in the last couple of years and feel they take a pretty good photo. They don’t have time to practice with light and posing and learning composition because they feel the need to be focused on business.

You can see the point I’m trying to make I’m sure.

The most successful businesses model is one that is balanced. Equal attention is given to all the parts. Yes it is difficult to juggle all of them at once, but the good news is that you don’t have to. Implementing systems and having the discipline to follow them can free up time to work on marketing, branding or networking. Time chunking your schedule can give you a better work week with tasks and shoots spread out to still allow for some free time to pursue personal projects that stretch you as a photographer.

Take the time this week to analyze your business.

  • What areas are being neglected?
  • Identify your areas of strength and also your weaknesses.
  • Consider being mentored by someone whose business you admire.
  • Make time in your calendar for each of the different areas, the craft (your imagery), branding, marketing, sales, customer experience and the management systems and workflows.
  • Too often we are so focused on the day to day and we skip the necessary reflection and planning.

Approach this next week with intent and get your photography business back in balance and watch your stress from work lower with each day. If you really want things to change for the better, then consider asking someone to hold you accountable for the goals you are making.

Remember, knowledge is pretty useless without action. It feels great when you achieve a goal, so there’s no better time than right now to let that momentum start!

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