It can be difficult to watch the lack of progress of so many promising photographers. They’ve dreamed for so long about creating a solid, sustainable business, and yet, all they do is dream.
You know the people I’m talking about. They attend conferences, sign up for free business webinars, buy paid photography training, and sometimes even work with a mentor or two. And yet week after week, month after month, year after year, they fail to make any progress toward their dreams.
Are they just lazy? No. It’s something worse. They don’t know how to move from a dream to a plan and they’re stuck.
Start With the Long-Term
If you’ve ever been on a job interview and were asked, “Where do you want to be five years from now,” you might have thought it an odd question. But as a business owner, that might just be the most important consideration you can have.
Without knowing where you’re headed in the long term, it’s impossible to create a map to get there. You need to know what your destination is, so that every day, week, month, and year you can check your progress to be sure you’re still headed in the right direction.
When is the last time you asked yourself this question? It is important to continue to evaluate your long term goals, no matter how long you have been in business.
Once you know your ultimate destination, you can draft a plan for getting there, and create the interim goals that will help you stay on track.
For example, if in five years you want to be free to travel for 8 weeks every year, then you need to have a few pieces in place before that can happen:
Enough income to cover travel costs
Passive income to sustain your business while you’re not working
A staff who can manage the business while you’re away
With this list, you can then work backwards from your five-year goal, and create milestones along the way. If you know you’ll need to earn $150,000 annually in order to fund your travel plans, and right now you’re earning $60,000, then reasonable milestones might look like this:
Year 1: $70,000
Year 2: $85,000
Year 3: $105,000
Year 4: $125,000
Year 5: $150,000
With these milestones in place, it’s much easier to figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve them, by setting monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Create Small Goals
If you say to someone, you need to move from $60,000 to $150,000 in five years, that’s a pretty overwhelming task. After all, it’s a $90,000 increase and most people will look at that and immediately dismiss it as impossible.
But when you break it down as we have above, and then again into smaller steps, it suddenly doesn’t look so daunting.
In the first year of the plan we have outlined here, your income needs to increase only by $10,000. That’s less than $1000 per month! Surely that’s easy enough to accomplish!
You can further break that down by week: $1000 per month is just $250 per week. If you sell just one premium package, or five more of a $50 session upgrades, you’ve already reached your milestone.
That might mean sending one more email to your list, or investing an additional $20 per month in Facebook ads, or perhaps reaching out to one more community influencer. The point is, reaching this much smaller goal is far easier than thinking about that five-year plan.
Use a system to keep yourself accountable
Consistency is key. If you leave it up to your mind alone you are bound to forget something. That is why having a system in place is so key to make your big dreams a reality!
We use 17hats as one of our systems. It allows us to track our communications with clients and keeps us in line with checks and balances to make sure we have consistent communication across the board for all of our clients. You can also track your financials within 17hats so you have a better idea of your numbers.
Celebrate all of your wins, big and small!
Achieving your big goals is no easy task and takes time and dedication. It is important to celebrate all of your wins along the way, big or small. Having celebrations as you are working towards a large goal will motivate you to keep moving along and give you something to work towards. Make sure you reward yourself along the way!
So what’s your big dream? How can you deconstruct it into achievable milestones, workable goals, and finally, daily and weekly tasks? If you can do this (and you definitely can) then you can achieve anything in your photography business and in life.