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As soon as my husband and I bought our first house, I knew there would be some life lesson I could take away from yard work. You see, our first house sat vacant on the market for over a year, and by the time we put in an offer, it was in short-sale. What that resulted in was a yard full of WEEDS – lots and lots and lots of weeds. The first spring we were there I remember spending over 8 hours one weekend just pulling weeds!
What on earth does this have to do with your photography business? Well, I’ll get to that…
Have you ever driven by someone’s house that has a perfectly manicured, luscious green lawn with beautiful blooming flowers everywhere? Of course you have! Maybe you even have one. Before I owned my own home, I was completely ignorant of how much time – and money - went into maintaining a beautiful yard.
Now, how about this question: when you first started in photography, did you ever stumble across another photographer’s beautiful, perfectly “manicured” website with a fully loaded portfolio and feel a little embarrassed of your own “seedling” site? The truth is, you may not have realized when you first started out how much time – and money – went in to building that business. Hopefully, now you do! And since we’re starting to enjoy the Spring & Summer seasons, I thought we could take a few lessons from all our hard yard work and apply it to our businesses!
Identify the Weeds
One of the biggest challenges for me when we first bought our home was to know what a weed was – and needed to be pulled up – and what was purposefully planted. It may seem silly, but in the spring when you are a novice gardener, everything that comes up looks green – some weeds even bloom and look kind of pretty! How can you tell them apart? Similarly, in business, it can be challenging initially to know where you need to spend your energy, and what can become “a weed” or a bad habit that just eats up valuable resources, like your time.
My biggest “weed” in my business is planning. It’s challenging for me to plan my marketing ahead, plan my time for a session and stick to it, plan time for editing or plan time to continue improving my photography skills through webinars, workshops or e-books. What is your weed? It might be sales, accounting, taxes, time management, or any number of things. Do yourself a favor right now and STOP.
Spend a few minutes and try to identify the weeds in your business. Write them down. Then, make an action plan for how you can start eliminating them from your business. For me, I need the accountability of making monthly goal and to-do lists. This helps me stay on top of my planning and not let weeks and weeks pass without being proactive! Outlining a specific action plan helps you be purposeful about changing. In the same way, looking at your garden weeds, acknowledging that you have weeds and then doing nothing, will not make them go away. It takes work to rip them out or put poison on them!
Don’t feel bad if you have to ask for help either! Our first year in our house I called a landscaping company to help me figure out what to do. There are plenty of resources available through mentoring, forums and free webinars that you can utilize!
Finally, share with others! It’s healthy to admit you are human! Find a local business network and learn from experienced professionals. Meeting others outside your industry can be a huge asset for learning new skills!
What are some of your “weeds”? I’d love to hear!
Check back in for some other fun business lessons from the garden (and see all my flowers when they bloom!)!
Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler. Visit her on Facebook!