In 2003 I was interviewed by Derrin Hynch, Sarina Russo and a few others on A Current Affair. Derrin described me as ‘the perfect employee’ and ‘a great asset to any employer’. What he didn’t beleive was that I was capable of being handed the keys to a $250,000 business and running it. I had entered a competition to win a mobile phone business from Crazy Ron and out of hundreds of thousands of applicants and two rounds of interviews was short listed to the final five. They ended up handing the keys to the business to a young man who had run a car wash before and they felt would be a better success story than me, the 20 year old girl who had worked for someone else since I was 14 years old. I don’t know how I would have gone running that business, but something in me sparked and I knew that I had to prove that I could cut it on my own.
In 2005 I captured my first wedding as the principal photographer (after second shooting for other wedding photographers for a while) and my photography business grew from there. I have been through ups and downs, a global financial crisis, hundreds of weekends of wedding trips and thousands of client relationships and I have learned a bunch along the way.
Here are some of the tips that I love to share with many of the new business owners that come to me for photos and advice.
Niche it down.
If your market is anybody then you are marketing to nobody. By being specific with your message you speak right to the heart and soul of your target market and those people fall in love with you.
Be a first rate version of you, not a second rate version of someone else.
Imposter syndrome is very real and damaging. It’s exhausting when you spend your time looking all around you and try to model your business on others who have had success, instead of focussing on the path that lies before you. By standing in your own individuality you become a brand, a brand that no one else can compete with because there is and will only ever be one of you.
A client will become a friend before a friend will become a client.
Clients get us, they get our brand and they’ve fallen in love with what we do. They really understand us. Friends often don’t get it and when we start a business we will most likely see a lot of ’employed’ friends fall away and lose contact or interest. That’s ok, different phases of our life call for different people around us and many people are there to teach us something. Love them, enjoy them while they’re there, but wish them well if they fall away. And nurture those new friends you make, they’re already supporting you.
Believe in your product or service from the bottom of your heart.
You have to be honestly passionately and unapologetically in love with the thing you do/make. Being in business is hard enough when you truly believe in what you do, if you just have wishy washy feelings about it then it’s just easier to sell someone else’s product.
People will fall in love with your passion and confidence and this will mean you will grow.
Focus on the 90% not just the 10%.
The vast majority of business marketing strategies focus on only 10% of the market. I’ll explain: at any one time 10% of people are ready to buy your product or service and are actively searching for a business to work with. Most businesses focus solely on putting their brand in those people’s faces, so most businesses end up competing for 10% of the market. The other 90% will be customers at some point in the future. By focussing your marketing efforts on the 90% you ensure a steady stream of clients now and in the future.
How do we do this? By educating, entertaining and offering value to people who aren’t ready to buy yet so that when they are ready to buy, you are at the fore front of their minds.
People are your most valuable asset in business. I attend a focussed networking meeting every week with over 25 other small to medium business owners. The knowledge in that room that is shared has been invaluable to my small business. The trust and relationships built have been invaluable to my small business. The people in that room all have similar goals to me and we all want to see each other grow and succeed. That’s something you can’t get anywhere else.
Invest where you will see the biggest returns.
If you are a photographer that isn’t in new gear. If you are a chef, it isn’t in sharper knives. If you are working in your area of genius (top tip, this is the only place you should be working) then frequent, fancy expensive upgrades won’t make your work better. As long as you have the tools to do the job properly then the places to invest to grow your business the fastest are self improvement and learning (learn marketing, NLP, take a sales course etc), professional marketing services and networking events. Learning how to communicate how you can help others effectively and then putting yourself in positions to do so will grow your business faster and more efficiently than a new fancy piece of gear. After you grow you can invest in the gear.😉
Also invest in what matters.
While it may be hard to measure a return on investment for a quality logo and branding strategy, it’s important in order for your audience to take you seriously. Think of brands you’ve worked with in the past, did they take themselves seriously enough to invest in quality branding? What about their photos? When you looked at their socials and website did it look professional to you?
When we see a brand that has an unprofessional online presence it doesn’t exactly instill confidence in them, does it.
What advice have you heard that has helped your business and if you’ve been in business a long time, what advice would you give a new start up? Leave a comment to inspire other business owners!