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The Most Important Secret to Owning a Business

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Do you remember when you first decided that your passion for photography was more than just a hobby and you wanted to turn it into something more than just a fun activity that you did in your spare time? You had a moment of clarity when you found your calling, and that THIS is what you wanted to do with your life. And somewhere in that moment, you decided you were going into business for yourself.

When people start a business that revolves around what they love to do, there’s a sense of fire and passion that one brings into their business. Starting a business is no easy task. What is even more challenging is keeping it in business year after year while still continuously growing and making a profit. All of a sudden, the one task of taking photos as a hobby turned into several tasks to keep your business running: marketing, blogging, buying insurance… the list goes on! So how do you keep that initial excitement and passion that was originally brought into the business as the reality of owning a business sets in? Start by working ON your business rather than IN your business so that you can increase your overall growth and profit. This is the most important secret to running and owning a successful wedding photography business, and we’re covering how to achieve this goal.

Know your Role in your Business

Think critically about the following two phrases. Ask yourself which one is true about you:

“I am a self-employed photographer,” OR “I am the CEO of a photography company.”

You love what you do, and there is nothing wrong with being a photographer. But, there is a paradigm shift that happens with professional photographers as they transition from thinking like just a photographer into thinking like a business owner. Your decision making process will change when you think about the business in addition to thinking about the images.

Related: The Professional Photographer’s Paradigm Shift

Once you opened your photography business, at some point, this thought may have crossed your mind: “What if I fail?” This is a common thought, and several successful business owners think about it at the beginning of their careers. Author of The E-Myth, Michael Gerber, discusses the fatal assumption that can cause most small business owners to fail:

“If you understand the technical work of a business… you then understand a business that does technical work.” – Michael Gerber

In photography, the assumption is made that if you understand how to take pictures, you know how to run a business that takes pictures. The assumption continues that if you just keep taking pictures, your business will get better; however, being an excellent photographer and being an excellent business owner are not the same thing. There is more to running a photography business than being a great photographer, and it requires you to take a step back and look at what role is most important for you to take on.

Work ON your Business rather than IN it

The solution is rooted in shifting your mindset to think like an entrepreneur first. Treat your business like a business owner would. Once you have grown your business to the point that you have a constant stream of tasks, a typical day can look a lot like this:

• What emails do I need to send?
• What images do I need to add my Signature Style to?
• What blog posts do I need to write?
• What meetings do I need to schedule?
• What do I need to DO?

This is working IN your business. And, let’s be honest, everything needs to be taken care of. All of those tasks must be accomplished to meet the needs of your clients. Every minute you spend taking care of those tasks, though, is time that you are no longer dedicating to growing your business.

Related: The Wedding Photographer’s Business Plan

To think like a business owner, you must ask yourself:
• How must the business work?
• How do I get the business to work on itself?
• How do I get this business to work better?

This is working ON your business. As photographers, the product is what you deliver to the client: The beautiful pictures that you take and the moments that you capture. This is the product you invest your time on. As entrepreneurs, the product is the business. The business is what you build and what you manage. This is the mindset of the business owner, and this is the product they focus on.

No doubt – managing this paradigm is the ultimate challenge. A growing business will have a continuously long list of tasks that need to be performed. And yet, the more time the business owner spends on those tasks, the less time there is for growth. Eventually, the list of tasks grows so long that it is all the business owner can tackle each day. This is why you must transition from a DOER to an OWNER.

Invest in systems

In order to work on your business rather than in it, you must have effective systems in place for consistency and progression. Working IN your business means trying to do every task of your business by yourself, which is something you want to avoid. When you take care of every single task in your business, you cannot spend time growing your business. Instead, you are spend your time keeping up on tasks that you should not need to do. Investing in systems allows you to delegate specific tasks to others who specialize in that field.

Related: Top 5 Workflow Apps

Find specialists that can help you with the tasks that you do not necessarily need to do. One of the most important parts of investing in systems is to find a specialist to take care of your photography post production needs. Freeing yourself from hours of working on your images allows you to spend more time doing what you love: meeting clients and taking stunning images of their big day.

Transition your thoughts to think like an owner

When owning a photography business, you have to think like a business owner and not just a photographer.  The best way to switch how you think about the business is when you start thinking about how to expand your business rather than focusing on the images.  When you start focusing on your business rather than taking a bunch of pictures, you will see the growth that you accomplished. Because of this, instead of referring to yourself as a photographer, you will start referring to yourself as the CEO of your own photography business.

When you start to think like an entrepreneur, you will start to make money like you deserve in your successful photography business. Learn more about how to act like the owner of your business by checking out our updated FREE guide How To Grow Your Wedding Photography Business.

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