This guest post is by Rob & Lauren, who are photographers, educators, travelers, and all-around fun-loving folks. They spend their time teaching on Photography Concentrate and creating portraits of fun people. They are currently obsessed with espresso and robots. Follow them on Twitter.
Once upon a time we made a really big mistake in our business. The kind of mistake that still comes back to haunt us on a regular basis. A real forehead-slapping, bad-word-saying, doozy of a blunder.
But before we tell you what we did, let’s take a second to talk about mistakes.
We’re human. So are you. (Unless you’re a robot, and then you don’t really need to read this.) Human beings make mistakes. All. The. Time. If you haven’t made a big mistake in your business yet, chances are pretty good that you will.
And so a big part of being a business owner is getting your mind in the right place to handle the inevitable missteps. Here are a few steps to take care of those problems when they pop up:
Step 1: Understand that you will make mistakes.
You’re not perfect and mistakes will happen. When you accept that, you’ll feel a lot less anxious and worried! You may even come to embrace mistakes when they happen! Maybe…
Step 2: Admit the mistake.
This is a big one. It’s easy to hide from your mistakes, and pretend nothing is wrong. Bad move. They have a way of getting worse over time, and you lose your ability to nip the problem in the bud. So when you make a mistake, acknowledge it. Write it down to make it real if you have to. Just admit you messed up, and you’ll be in a much better place to fix it.
Step 3: Look at the mistake objectively.
When it’s your business it’s easy to get emotional, and think the mistake is much more dire than it really is. Take a step back, get some big picture perspective, and figure out just what went wrong. Be honest.
Step 4: Fix it.
This might not always be easy, but do your best to figure out how to fix the mistake. Make things right with clients, with your business, and with yourself. Every mistake is different, so there’s no single answer to this one. But now that you’ve admitted the mistake, and looked at it objectively, you should be able to figure out how to fix it.
Step 5: Learn from it.
After you’ve worked to fix the mistake, now comes the most important part. Learn from it!! This is the silver lining, and the big reason why it’s ok to make mistakes. They are amazing learning experiences in disguise. If you figure out how to prevent the mistake in the future, you end up growing as a result of making it in the first place. Win!
Step 6: Move on.
Remember, it’s ok to make mistakes. After you’ve learned from it, then move on. Dwelling on mistakes you’ve made doesn’t help you at all. Focus your energy instead on doing great things in the future. You can’t change the past, after all! (Unless you have a time machine, and if so we should talk.)
So, now are you ready to hear about our big mistake? Let’s do it.
After a couple of years of shooting weddings in our hometown of Edmonton, we thought it would be a great adventure to move to another city (Vancouver) and set up shop. We went out there to look around, and even did a bunch of networking with local photographers.
Then, the big mistake: we announced that we would be moving on our blog.
And never moved.
But all of our clients and potential clients thought we weren’t going to be in Edmonton anymore. They stopped contacting us, referring us, telling people we weren’t shooting here anymore…you can see why this was a big mistake.
When we decided to stay in Edmonton we did post about it, and sent out a newsletter, but we never really admitted just how big the mistake we made was. We didn’t take the “fix it” stage seriously enough. We didn’t put in enough effort to make sure everyone knew we were staying.
And so fast forward a few years, and we still regularly get asked when we are moving, or hear statements like “Oh you’re still here! I thought you had moved!”. Bummer.
Luckily it didn’t send our business down the toilet, but that was a very real possibility. We’ve now learned to never make big announcements online unless we are absolutely, positively, 100% sure about it.
So, have you made a big mistake? Did you admit it and fix it? Or ignore it and have it grow into a big issue like ours? What did you learn from your boo boo? Share with us in the comments now!
Need to learn how to use your camera, edit images in Lightroom, design wedding albums in InDesign? Robert & Lauren Lim are passionate about teaching you through their website and products. Buy them here using these affiliate links so that you may support Tiffinbox as well.
Great post! One of our biggest mistakes was not embracing efficiency sooner. We wanted everything done RIGHT and done perfectly, meaning, we had to do it ourselves. I think that was our biggest mistake starting out, and the source of a lot of frustration. Until we learned to let go of some of the little details, we werent really able to focus on growing our business strategically…because we were too exhausted from having spent all night photoshopping a single image! Once you figure out how to streamline your business, your workflow etc. then a space opens up for working on your business and growing it to the next level.