3 “Rules” to Break as a Business Owner
What’s one business “rule” that you found online, or someone told you to follow? Like “fake it until you make it” or “it takes money to make money.” These rules get thrown around a lot because, honestly, they work for some people. And they can inspire many people.
These rules are great and all, but the truth is, you don’t have to follow them! Here are three pieces of advice you’ve probably heard since you got into the photography business — and my take on why you should bend or break them.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
This is a fun rule that people love, isn’t it? It basically means to not waste your time on something that doesn’t need fixing. Focus your energy and resources on other stuff.
While that’s true, you shouldn’t always follow this rule. If you did, you’d never come up with an exciting idea for your business. Or you may not want to pursue this idea because everything’s working just fine already!
Even when there aren’t any problems in your business to fix — which is always a good thing — greatness can happen when you let yourself think outside the box.
For example, in 2017, I was really busy. I was booking months in advance. While my booking process wasn’t necessarily broken, I was spending way too much time manually booking sessions, sending invoices, chasing down invoice payments — you get the idea.
So in 2018, I automated the entire process. Now I don’t have to waste time booking, following up, and figuring out payments. The system I chose made communication easier, and it also helped me get paid as soon as clients booked! This change literally cut my booking process time down to almost nothing.
Don’t ignore things just because they’re working. If I had done that, I would still be spending hours sending reminders and booking sessions and asking for contract signatures! Look for opportunities to create systems and workflows.
Ask yourself why you do things a certain way. You might realize that you’re doing something simply out of habit…and it can be improved. If your reasons aren’t that strong, why not explore a different option? You’re the boss, and you get to make the rules.
“Know your competition.”
You have to know your competition to keep your business going. Understanding what you’re up against will help you figure out the demand for your services. It’ll also help you price your services accurately.
And honestly, not all competition is “bad.” It’s nice to make friends with people in the same industry as you!
However…there is a point where “knowing your competition” can go too far. When you become obsessed with what other photographers are doing right, what they’re charging, or why they have more clients than you…it’s now a problem.
You start to think “I should be doing this” or “I should be as successful as that person because we’re doing the same thing!” You’ve fallen into the comparison trap, my friend.
Here’s something I say all the time; in fact, it’s one of the core values of my business. Stay in your own lane. You don’t have to keep tabs on what other photographers are doing in your area. Nor do you have to become besties with them. Whether you do that is up to you, but what I want you to do most is focus on yourself and your business.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who your competition is or what they do. What matters is that you build a business you love.
“Live for the weekend.”
Last but not least, we have “live for the weekend.” Yuck. That means you get to enjoy two days out of seven! We can do way better than that.
Instead, I say “work to live.” Or, “live the life that you want.”
Isn’t that why you pursued your dream of launching your own photography business in the first place? To create a life that you wanted, based on your own goals and passions and dreams?
As photographers, we actually have to be careful not to go too far in the other direction. This goes for small business owners in general, I think. Work-life balance is important.
People say to do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, but that’s not the case at all! It’s very easy to blur the lines between work life and personal life when you’re the boss of your own business.
As for me, I work less than 30 hours a week. I spend the rest of my time doing what I love: hanging out with my husband and my pups. Traveling. Reading. Watching Netflix. You can do the same thing!
Think about how you’re spending your time now and how you can spend it more wisely. Do you really need to be available to clients 24/7? How many days a week do you really want to work?
Again, the most important thing is to do what’s best for you, your life, and your business!
Be a rebel and break the rules
At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules for being a successful entrepreneur. There are only popular pieces of advice that have worked for many people, many times.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. And it doesn’t mean you have to follow them!
Be a rebel; don’t be afraid to bend or break the rules. Make up your own rules based on your hopes and dreams, your vision for your business, and your life. That’s just one of the many fun things about having your own photography business.
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