Since Spring is here, we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn tips and tricks that will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they write a roadmap for their business!
Write your roadmap…
Developing business systems is like writing a roadmap to reach your goals. Once you identify the destination (your purpose and goals!), you need to decide which business systems you’re going to use to get there!
You can’t do it all. And more important, you don’t need to do it all to run a successful business! When you have a roadmap for reaching your goals, you’ll be able to decide which areas of your business deserve the most attention. If something doesn’t help you reach your goals, and doesn’t fit within your business’ purpose, then don’t waste your time!
Ask yourself these questions to begin writing your roadmap:
- What parts of my business affect whether or not I reach each of my goals?
- What daily activities bring me closer to reaching my goals?
Other photographers have done it, so can you!
One mistake many photographers make during this process is trying to simply replicate or emulate other photographers’ business systems. In reality, those who are sustainably successful have built systems that play to their key strengths and that help them reach their unique goals! If you want to set up successful business systems, you have to design them for yourself. There’s no magic formula for what your business systems should look like, and while it’s useful to learn how others run their business, no system is one-size-fits-all.
Understanding your individual strengths not only helps you differentiate yourself from other photographers, but it also helps you decide when to outsource tasks.
Ask yourself these questions to identify your unique strengths:
- What are my greatest strengths?
- What are my areas of weakness?
- What are the profit centers of my business?
Then, think of your business systems within four distinct areas:
- Technical processes
Within each of these areas you’ll need to establish systems that help you accomplish your goals and stay on top of day-to-day tasks. Here are some examples of which business systems fit within each of these areas.
Technical Processes: post-production, upload and image review systems, process for storing and protecting images
Relationships: managing vendor relationships, networking to grow your referral base, processes for meeting new clients, tracking sales leads
Finances: bookkeeping process, accounting system
Other Tasks: album process, client communication, Blogging and social media, marketing
In the next post in this series we’ll share “how-to” implement systems in your day-to-day operations! Get a head start with ACE Richard Esposito who shares his tips below.
Q. What’s your primary area of photography and when did you start shooting full-time?
Richard: I started photographing full time almost 9 years ago. I fell right into doing weddings and it has been my primary business since.
Q. What was your biggest challenge when starting your own business?
Richard: Marketing. And it still is to this day. It seems it changes every year!
Q. What are your favorite five tips for keeping track of client communication?
Richard: My five favorite tips are…
1) ShootQ lead tracking
2) E-mailing through ShootQ so messages are saved and archived. Also, e-mail templates!
3) ShootQ notes in my client’s account, so I don’t have to remember what I told them.
4) ShootQ Workflows to remind me when I need to contact my clients and remembering if I have or not.
5) ShootQ questionnaires.
Looking for non-ShootQ related ways? Set up your own e-mail rules!
Q. What’s the most interesting or funny thing you’ve been doing while ShootQ booked a shoot for you?
Richard: I am realizing that I don’t do anything interesting or funny. Seriously, I’ve been staring at this question for 10 minutes now!
Richard Esposito has been a professional photographer for over 8 years. He dedicates his life to his family and photography, and to teaching other photographers. He’s also an Emmy Award Winner for his work in video editing. He has won many international awards, including WPPI Awards of Excellence and CTPPA’s Court of Honor for wedding image of the year. Although he is primarily located in Connecticut, traveling is a big part of Richard’s life personally and professionally. He has photographed weddings across the United States and the Caribbean. Richard has spoken at conferences and to photography associations from California to London.