To make a constructive move forward often requires a serious review of where one is, has been or started from and a clear knowledge what the destination is, taking stock of how far one has come, in what direction (the right one hopefully) and at what pace.
When I started out as a photographer, all I wanted to do was create great images that people loved and appreciated. The ‘business’ aspect of it did not matter or kick in till later on. There was no thought or considerations about ‘profit’ or ‘viability’, I wanted to be a photographer so badly I was desperate.
So much so I did it for free for years – in short it was a passion that became a job as I eventually needed more money than I had to keep going (as was the case with many other photographers, I found out much later).
Because this was not a natural approach to starting a business venture, it failed to trigger a business like attitude or manner – it was an affording it state of mind that developed – as in ‘how can I afford to keep doing this’ which eventually results in a lets charge something for it mindset. A price list is deviced, based on some one else’s without proper consideration for profitability because all we really wanted at this poitn is to make a little money to continue doing what we love.
Well, that’s my story to some extent. I had a good job, a comfortable financial situation and kids in private school. Life was great – until I decided to take up photography FULL TIME, having no thought for what was profitable to do or how it could be managed successfully. I just loved being a photographer so much.. and still do.
I started trading and for many years just bumbled along whilst bleeding away my savings. It was not immediately apparent I was losing money because my passion shielded me from the truth and added to that was a good credit history so loans where readily available and I went along like this for a long time (most photographers and photography businesses still do this even in this harsh economic climate).
Most creative people suffer from the syndrome I describe here – they find something they love to do. They do it a bit, get better at it, do it some more until one day they find they’ve committed too much resources to it to stop, so they can’t stop and don’t really want to. This is where the transition from hobby to job happens – and it happens because they now have to find imaginative ways to continue indulging the ‘hobby’. Some go on to become very successful and rich but far too many often don’t.
A few years back, as the economy nose dived I began to see the danger of the situation I was in and decided to take action – the result of realising that things were not what they ought to be coupled with a desire for and the need to grow a better and stronger business for mine and my clients benefit.
And to this end I’ve had to allow the ‘entrepreneur’ in me to grow both in strength and boldness. Having to revisit all the assumptions I made in the beginning and revised a lot of things I used to do, and why I did them.
The result is that I am wiser, smarter and on my way to being a lot more profitable – by being focused on what has worked in the past and why. Looking at what were the strongest sellers in the mix of products I offered with a view to concentrating more on those and not waste energy and resources on being ‘a jack of all trade and master of none’.
To go forward, I realised that I needed to MANAGE my business more. I have spent and continue to spend a lot of time and energy educating myself on ‘managing’ growth. It has been very hard coming to terms with and having to accept that whilst talent and skills are great to have, they are not nearly enough to succeed in business – YOU NEED STAYING POWER, A GOOD BUSINESS HEAD AND SOUND STRATEGY.
In closing you need to know your ‘strengths’ and play to them (be aware of the things that work to your profit and advantage. Do them diligently and consistently). Avoid (like the plague) those things that are not profitable and resource diminishing – you need to identify these early and avoid them with strong determination and commitment.