Hopefully everyone had mind boggling sales last year & had to reinforce their doors with steel to keep back the swarm of clients. I know how that goes right? Just living the dream. But maybe good isn't good enough. Why not great? How about we have to build a great wall to contain the mob of people trying to work with us? It's already the end of February & hopefully you took the time to hash out goals for 2014 & get all your ducks in a row but if not, it's not too late. There's some important questions you should have answers to in order to set a clear plan for 2014. A big one being: Do you know what worked for you last year & what didn't? It's hard to set goals & find direction if you don't know what's going on. It's something every successful company takes time to do regularly. So get a pen & some paper & take time to assess your business set clear goals for this year. Start by answering:
1. What aspect of your business do you enjoy doing most?
Many times we start a business because we love doing something so much that we want to do it all the time. Unfortunately then we get into business & realize there's so many things that go into running a business that you don't get to spend enough time doing what you love anymore & it can cause us to lose our passion. Losing your passion is the equivalent of dumping your business off a bridge. It means you probably aren't happy or excited about new work which shows in the quality of what your putting out & the level of service your providing to your clients. So if you found yourself loathing your daily to-do list at work, it's time to figure out what those things were & how to do them less so you can free up your time for the stuff you love. Which leads us to our next obvious question of,
2. What aspect of your business do you dread?
Whatever it is the next question to ask yourself is how can I do it less? With Photography for example it's usually sales or editing. If your spending a bunch of time editing & you don't like editing:
- Outsource. There's plenty of companies that do high volume editing as well as some that will do more custom work. If you don't want to hire a company to do it look for retouchers or other Photographers that are accepting new clients. I've come across talented photographers who edit on the side for other's during their slower times.
- Try to get your settings better in camera so there's less editing needed. If you're always in a rush when you shoot & don't take the time to correct the white balance as you move between locations or don't stop to adjust your lighting...make time. A reflector for example, or a speedlight at a low setting for barely there fill will save hours of editing time in post where you'd normally have to brighten the subjects otherwise.
- Create actions/presets & shoot consistent so you can minimize how much editing you need to do. Find your shoot style & the camera settings that work best in different situations & stick to them. Customize a few actions for each setting like one for shooting in the sun, one for shady day shoots, one for indoors etc so you can click them & get consistently good results that don't need tweaking.
3. Did you meet your goals last year?
This could be so many things. But if you didn't meet your goals last year figure out why. Are you where you need to be skill wise? If not take time to perfect your craft & learn. The worse thing that could happen is you get a lot of business but aren't ready for it. Maybe its not your skill that's behind but you just don't have a solid workflow or business model in place to be consistent. Do you have a clear & consistent flow of how to do things when you get a new client or do you find yourself struggling to stay organized & on point? Getting everything streamlined is HUGE I tell ya, HUGE! For one & most importantly it helps you avoid people falling through the cracks or customer service fails which lead to not only unhappy people but a giant loss of potential customers because a happy client is your best source for new work. By having a clear definition of how you'll handle inquiries, how you'll book & then communicate & work with clients...you can avoid making mistakes & not giving them exceptional service.
Continue reading by clicking here. The link will take you to Dawn Alderman Designs blog where I originally wrote the post along with others about marketing & branding.