Is The “F” Word Creeping Into Your Business and Personal Life?

“Most people die at 20 and live until they are 75.” – Les Brown

I saw this quote the other day and wrote it down to remember it. I have a whole list of quotes I love and look to them often for motivation.

And while I completely agree with this quote, another part of me asked “why”. Why do people give up everything, lose their dreams, and continue with a life they really don’t enjoy?

When I started out after high school, I attended college because my mom said I had to. I didn’t have a goal or a purpose; just my mom behind me saying I had to have a degree. She wasn’t allowed to go to college back in her day because her family assumed she would drop out and get married anyway; why “waste” the money? She always regretted it and made sure her daughters had a degree instead.

So I “fell” into a business degree because I really didn’t know what else to do.

Then I fell into a variety of “jobs”, from banking to accounting to auditing. I never loved it; I just did it. I did get paid very well for what I did. And I also traveled all the time, which I guess is what whetted my appetite for travel. But I just did it all because that’s what you were supposed to do.

Then something happened when I was 28. My dad died of a massive heart attack. It was very quick, no warning. Just here one day, gone the next. He was 54 years old and way too young to die. But he has continued to influence me more since his death than he probably ever did while he was alive. [Read more…]

5 Things A Small Business Owner Should Never Skimp On

If you are just starting out as a small business owner, or are trying to move from part time to six figure level, chances are “shoestring budget” is something you live by. You might not have a regular paycheck coming in, low or no income stream, and are probably taking on debt to help you achieve your dreams. In short, you are cash poor.

So the most logical step to take is to try and do everything on a shoestring budget.

Marketing – what’s that?

Advertising – that’s why Facebook and Twitter is great, they are free.

Business cards – why buy them when you can print them on your home printer?

Part of living on a shoestring budget means doing everything at the lowest cost possible. But if you live your entire life like that, you may be putting your business at risk. There are some things that you just shouldn’t skimp on. It shows.

Your Image

When a prospective client meets you for the first time, what do they think? People form opinions within the first few seconds of meeting; make sure those seconds count. Even if you can’t afford an entire wardrobe from Bloomingdales, you should still invest in one great outfit to meet people in. Head to your local consignment store and talk with the staff. Ask them to make recommendations about looking your best. Make sure everything fits the correct way. And pay attention to your shoes; holes, scuff marks and worn down heels say a lot.

Try to look like your customers. If you are targeting business people who usually meet you in business suits, follow their example and show up in a suit. If you work with Internet companies and start up business owners who show up in jeans and a t-shirt, dress down a bit and show up in something suitable. Never look like you’ve spent the last 24 hours in front of the computer.

The Customer Experience

Meeting a potential customer for the first time puts you on display. At all other times, its your company that is on display. Everything you do that relates to the customer should create a “WOW” experience and make them feel like a million bucks. If you are not fully vested in making your business shine and stand out, a prospect may not feel like investing in what you have to offer.

Look at what you have to offer through the eyes of your customer. Would you buy something? Are the marketing materials top notch – or are they thrown together? Is the website custom designed – or put together by amateurs? Do you use top quality albums, frames, materials, etc – or do you use your local discount store? It all matters at this stage of the game. The more thought and time you put into creating a dynamic experience for your customers, the more it will show in top quality referrals, and life long clients.

Your Website

Having a great website no longer equates to spending a ton of money. If you are even just a bit tech savvy, you can do the design yourself with WordPress.

Dig Deeper: The 10 Advantages Of WordPress For Designing Your Photography Site

Move Your Photography Business To The Six Figure LevelThere are really only two things that will provide you with a website you can be proud of.

1. Having a site that looks professional.

2. Having a site that allows you to create content.

Websites today are meant to be a window to the online world. They connect you up with various social sites and allow you to connect with your customer base on many different levels. If you still think a 5 page website will cut it, think again. The more you put into it, the more you will receive. [Read more…]

5 Questions That Will Make You A Successful Photographer In 2011

Thinking about the New Year? I know I am. I’ve been making plans for weeks now, and already have several great ideas lined up for the first couple of months.

Success doesn’t just happen; it’s created. And the more you plan for it, the more likely success will find you. Whether you have or have not started making plans for 2011, take a look at these 5 questions, and use it to move your business one step closer to success.

What do I want to accomplish in 2011?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, writing down goals, and planning your first promotion for the New Year, you’re well on your way to success. You’re making plans instead of waiting for things to happen to you. If not, its time to do exactly that. Sit down and make your list of goals today.

How can I make 2011 better than 2010?

No matter how good (or bad) business was in 2010, there are always ways to improve. What would make your 2011 better? Would you move from part time to full time? Would you increase your sales by 20 percent? Would you book an additional 5 weddings? Stretch your mind, and take your goals as far as you can.

How can I improve my photography in 2011?

Planning on going to any conventions in 2011? WPPI will be coming up in a few short weeks – we’ve attended that one for years. Do a quick search online and you’ll find dozens of different training possibilities to help you improve your photography skills. And whether you’ve been photographing for 1 month or 50 years, there is always something new you can learn that will give you a new way to look through the lens of your camera.

How can I improve my business in 2011?

If you have your own studio, it isn’t enough to be great at photography. You also have to be great at business. Don’t just take in what you learn at a photography convention, open up to possibilities beyond photography. Can you take a marketing class from a marketing guru? How about read a book from a social media expert? Business rules don’t hold true within one industry; they can be used across the board in all fields. And it may give you an idea that no one else is using within the photographic community.

What can I do to help someone in a new way in 2011?

It’s the ol’ “givers gain” philosophy. The more you give, the more you get. Ask anyone that is truly successful how they give back and they will provide a host of ways they participate in the givers gain philosophy. They may tithe 10 percent of their income. They may belong to a charity and participate frequently. The important thing is they recognize that to be well rounded, and truly successful in every way, you have to share what you have in some way.