I love this time of year. The trees are flowering. The grass is turning green. And with the gorgeous 70 degree days, nothing is better than heading out and cleaning out the gardens, getting ready for a new year of living outside every chance we get.
While much of my weekends and afternoons are spent outside in the gardens right now, I’m also spending an equal amount of time on the inside, looking at my business.
Have you heard the phrase, “two steps forward, one step back”? I like to spring clean by keeping that phrase in mind.
If you spend any time in the garden, you know some things grow, and some things don’t. Especially in cold climates like Colorado, some things make it well over the winter months, and some things die out. We plant all summer long, then spend the springtime looking over the garden, evaluating what came back, and what didn’t. Sometimes it means pulling out old to make room for the new.
The same applies to your business.
Every year, I come up with new ideas, design new promotions, plan new products and services, and release a lot of new things to my clients and prospects. Some things stick. Some don’t.
But while its okay to try new things, you also have to take a step back occasionally and make sure things are running efficiently. Are there things you can change that would make your business even better? Can you add things? Delete things?
Review Your Goals
By now you know I’m a huge planner, and goal setting is a necessity to stay on track. I talk about it again and again.
While its good to set up goals on a regular basis, it’s also a good idea to review and change them along the way.
I’ve read books that show you how to set up 100 year goals. And I’ve also read books that state setting goals for anything beyond a couple of years is a hindrance, because things simply change too fast. My views fall somewhere in the middle.
I agree that to set up long term goals of several years can be difficult in today’s marketplace. Technology changes and becomes obsolete every few months. Yet you have to understand your long term plans in order to set things in place today.
If you want to be a successful six figure travel photographer five years from now, you have to have certain goals today to make that a reality.
- Practice your photography
- Connect with publications
- Start traveling
- Research how to publish books
That’s just a starting point. While I may not understand the nuances of what I’ll be doing five years from now, I still can do things today that will put me one step closer to my long term goal.
So as you spring clean, make sure you are still on track. Change what you need to. If you’ve have “travel photography” on your goal list for two years an you are no closer to it than you were two years ago, its time for a change.
Review Your Products and Services
Chances are you only have a handful of products and services available to your clients. And chances are you’ve had them for a long time. Do they still work?
If you are making sales regularly, it’s easy to say “yes”. But do they really? Could you change a few things, and double your sales?
Instead of relying on what you’ve been selling, and assuming it’s the best options for you, take some time to see what everyone else is doing.
Start by making a list of your competitors, people you know in the industry that are doing very well, and people you find by reading magazines or doing an Internet search. Take a look at their packages, products and services. What do they do differently?
While it’s never a good idea to radically go through and change everything you have, you may pick up subtle ideas that can have a major impact on your bottom line.
Review Your Pricing
Now that you have your products and services in place, how is the pricing? Have you changed your pricing based on estimated cost increases? Do your prices work for the type of clientele you are going after?
Look at your prices realistically for today’s economy. Don’t automatically go up because you do so every year. Likewise don’t cut your prices just because we are in a recession. Put those thoughts aside, and look at it realistically for your target market, and what you need to keep your business running profitably.
Review Your Equipment
As a photographer, you have a variety of things you need to create your photographs. Camera bodies, lenses, computers, lighting equipment, etc. The more you use it, the more it wears down and begins to give you less than stellar results.
Instead of waiting for the worst, plan out your replacement system. Is it possible to get one new camera body a year? How about one new lens per year? Then rotate the equipment out, and sell off what you don’t use, or have purchased new.
Review Your Tools
Don’t forget about your online tools. While its easy to say “I have a website”, is that website doing you any good? If you haven’t updated it in three years, chances are the answer is no.
Just like your camera equipment wears out, your marketing materials soon look outdated and worn. To stay on the cutting edge, you have to be changing, growing and morphing all the time.
If you’ve built your site yourself and are hosting it on a slow server, maybe now is the time to move to a blog platform, and use cloud base hosting to speed things up. If you’ve used Flash for your site, upgrade so your site will be visible on mobile devices.