Do the Hustle.
I'm not referring to that catchy disco tune released in 1975 by Van McCoy. Although, if you like to dance while you read, please be my guest.
Hustle. I use that word quite often when I'm teaching my college photography students, especially in our business class. I encourage them to hustle because success demands it.
I personally don't believe that most of the successful people you know got to where they are without a good measure of hustle.
While I'm aware that there are some uses of the word that have a negative connotation to them, I like the definition that should describe entrepreneurs. “Hustle– an enterprising person determined to succeed; a go-getter.”
I like the term go-getter as much as I like the word hustle. Go-getter, go out and get it. It requires action.
Too many of us have great ideas and then don't execute on them. Action creates a result, good or bad. Better to have a few bad results than none at all. Especially when we know that we learn from our mistakes.
As a photographer who has spent thirty-four years in the business, I can attest first hand to the value of hustle. Hustle has been a part of networking, referrals, learning best business practices, finding new clients, finding better clients, and learning how to create lasting value.
There is not much room for timidity when it comes to business. Your competitors are busy trying to get the same clients as you are. We all need to pay our mortgages and put food on the table, so those that hustle and create exceptional experiences win.
I remember overhearing a conversation at a photography conference not long ago where three photographers were discussing the platform class of a very well know photographer and entrepreneur. “It must be nice,” they said, “to be able to get 100 people come out to hear you speak and get asked for product endorsements.” “Yeah,” said another, “they always win the print competition, too. I wish my photography was that good.”
Most people focus on the “overnight success” in front of them and don't consider that most overnight successes were ten to twenty years in the making. That platform speaker wasn't just naturally gifted at photography. They put in the time and practice. They hustled! They spent countless hours honing their craft and it often pays off come competition time.
For most leaders in our industry they didn't just get on a stage a year into their business. They worked tirelessly on learning everything they could about creating a brand, marketing that brand and delivering a consistently amazing client experience, before during and after each session or wedding.
The problem with social media today is that we see everything on a surface level. Some photographers make it look easy so we think success should be easy. Reality check! There is no magic bean that makes everything fall in place.
If you aren't sure you how to get your hustle going, here are a few hints to point you in the right direction:
Love what you do!
Most of you do, but perhaps a few of you are still forcing yourself to photograph things that you're really not passionate about. If you love what you do then it's much easier to work hard at the thing you like the most.
If you're outgoing than this should be easy. For those that find networking awkward, then you really need to hustle here! The hardest part is always the first minute of introduction and then it usually gets easier. Understanding that networking is an opportunity for you to help others, instead of seeing it as a way for you to get something from someone, can transform your attitude about networking.
Focus and rid yourself of distractions!
This one discipline can quite possibly be the most important way to increase success. Set clear goals based on well-thought-out strategy and then map out the path or tactics to get you there. Don't let anything distract you from getting tasks done. There are simple ways to declutter your daily routine so that when you need to knuckle down to the work, you can get it done and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Try turning off notifications for email, Facebook and Twitter as a start. Put your phone on vibrate and let the voicemail take messages.
Finish what you start!
This creates an ongoing momentum for life. If it's worth starting, it's worth finishing. That's why setting goals is so important. Make sure what you start is going to be worth finishing. Hustlers are not quitters, they endure, and they complete the task no matter the hardships. Begin each day with an attitude of gratitude and treat each client and assignment as though your business depends on them. Because it does!
Most startups these days understand the need for hustle and every photography business is or once was a startup. The need for hustle should not diminish as a business matures. But too often that is the case. We become a bit complacent when we feel we have “made it.”
I mentioned at the outset that I wasn't referring to the disco song “Do the Hustle” but on second thought maybe that's the best way to remind ourselves that a parked car gets no mileage.
Success requires a goal, a plan and a whole lot of hustle to get you there!