When we get around Valentine’s Day everyone is thinking about love, flowers, and candy! But we often forget a very special aspect in our life that needs some love too. Our businesses.
It’s no coincidence that Valentine’s is smack in the middle of the second month of the year. It’s given you enough time to start implementing your business and marketing plans, AND you’re starting to see whether they are actually going to pay off.
Valentine’s is a perfect time to LOVE your business and re-evaluate.
Because once you get far into the year, it’s too late. Generally speaking, business plan execution and marketing activities take a good 3-4 months to be seen on the surface. You can see these by generating revenue, converting more inquiries, creating new business partnerships or simply getting inquiries in the virtual door.
Stop now. Love yourself. Love your business.
If you are not seeing any return, you may not be doing things right. Admittedly, time may just need to go by a little bit more, but I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been hitting the pavement and planning hard since January 1, you should’ve already seen some return.
For this reason, I want to share with you seven ways to love your photography business (and yourself!) so that you can make some changes to your plans so that you’ll have a fighting chance for success this year.
Pay your business (and yourself) right!
Did you know – by paying yourself a formalized paycheck you can reduce your personal income tax liability AND save money? If you have reached a certain threshold of receipts but are an LLC or Sole Proprietor without a formalized paycheck (or other income limiting measure), you are potentially liable for the majority (if not all) of the monies that come through the door. Income tax liability can be at a higher rate than business tax liability. Consider setting up a formal payment system (complete with employer taxes), so you can take advantage of these benefits.
Understand your contracts
Contracts are way more than protection tools. They are expectation setting tools and serve as “no” man for your business. Let the contract be the no-fun tool to keep them on track so the client’s interaction with you can be fun.
But it’s scary when you are unsure of how to write them (hint: you don’t!), use them, and explain them to your clients.
Furthermore, contracts are to be used to create a GOOD relationship – and not simply be signed and put away. You, hopefully, already have the contract signed from client – why not use it to further the relationship in a good way?
Have an attainable budget
Budgeting isn’t that hard but is an often overlooked element to business. Many of you may mistakenly write down just your costs and leave out some or all of the following: paycheck, rainy day savings, educational savings, long-term retirement savings, equipment upgrade amounts, etc.
The other end of the spectrum is for those that “over-save” in the wrong areas. True, over-saving may not be a bad thing – but it is when some areas are ignored. Many times there will be tunnel vision for upgrading glass or bodies, but forget that you may need an insurance deductible or income coverage, should the need arise.
Cushion your business in case it stumbles
Many photographers jump into a business formation (sole prop, LLC, corporation) or insurance policy and never look back. But hopefully, your business is growing – which also necessitates the need for changes in protection. Take some time to evaluate if your liability protections and policy coverages are in line with your current situation and future goals.
It may be as simple as picking up the phone to call your insurance agent and throwing situations at them – their knowledge is deep and assistance can be a low-cost way to ensure you are protected.
Also, digging into the mind of fellow business owners (including your lawyer!) can reveal examples of when others around you have changed their formation status to align with their business growth.
Go into every session knowing you’ll make X
I don’t know about you, but I when I get up and head out for a session – I’d like to know I’m going to make X amount of money. The idea of walking into the session with a hope that I’ll reach a threshold is hard.
Think about it this way – you are standing on a chair. Your client is on the ground. Is it easier for your client to pull you down or for you to pull them up on the chair with you?
Answer: It is easier for them to pull you down. Especially if you’re not strong and/or confident in your abilities.
Managing the expectations of money from the beginning through presentation of pricing and sales will help to ensure you are rolling out of bed and taming that messy bun into a presentable set up for the money you WANT or NEED to be making.
Give your business direction
Ah, direction. Everyone starts out the year with this excited, motivated and (hopefully) clear direction. Or so they think. Many of you who have been in business awhile have already wandered these woods. You know the path where you need to walk and when to walk it. For those that are charting a whole new direction or are brand new to business – you need help. You need guidance. You need a clear map.
Sit down and draw up clear goals + directional plan (map) + benchmarks for review.
To be successful you need all of these. Not just create a plan, then execute. You need the reevaluations and revisions. Quarterly, if not more.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about – you may start feeling the burn out of no return. Stick with me – go back to the formal above. Get clear. Get planned. Get reviewing.
For additional help in giving your business direction, read 5 Quick steps to making a business plan that works: Business planning for photographers.
Give your business long-term health
Just like you should be taking care of yourself, you should be taking care of your business. This includes putting the proper efficiency supports, legal protections, and future plans in place. Through retirement and savings you can set your business to be a benefit should an issue arise with your health or ability to work. Legal protections can also be there to safeguard your personal assets and keep your business out of legal hot water. All of these work to maintain a healthy business that can continue serving your clients. If you don’t have the proper legal supports, retirement and insurance plans in place. Make a note on your calendar NOW to do them by the end of the month.
Not sure what to include in a what-if kit? Check out Oh Snap! Business Prevention Toolkit. Includes everything you need to prepare for the unexpected to give your business a safety net.
Need more help?
On-Demand Education: BizRevamp® – the biz and legal webcourse for photographers – 6 modules, on-demand video lessons, transcripts, private community and LIFETIME access.
*Biz Formation (types, licenses, name choosing)
*Insurance & Retirement
*Pricing and Sales