Angela Pointon is an inspirationalist and advocate for professional photographers. She is a monthly columnist for Professional Photographer mag and offers Photo Business Renovations to photographers everywhere. Her brief e-book, “The Art Of A Photo Business: what every photographer wished they knew before starting their photography business” is available for download in all digital formats. Follow Angela on Twitter or Facebook.
DesignAglow recently posted a question to the photography community on Facebook:
“What is something you still want to learn how to do?”
The overwhelming majority of responders who said “how to juggle life and a photo business” snuffed out the occasional “learn Photoshop techniques” or “how to pose newborns”.
I firmly believe that if you're talking about struggling to juggle, there is something concretely wrong with your business. It might be something huge, or it might be something small. I suppose it all has to do with the severity of the needing-to-juggle feeling.
So I figured I'd put together a few tips. They're just plain old things that have helped me. Hopefully you'll find them extremely simple and adoptable.
1. Figure out your desired lifestyle, first.
I follow a ton of entrepreneurial business leaders, and I feel bad about not being able to credit the single person who gave me this advice early on.
Because the advice was awesome and impacted the decisions I make greatly.
What they said was, “figure out the lifestyle you want, first. Then build the business to match it.”
As I was personally contemplating my own business, I was ever so grateful to have had the advantage of learning this right from the beginning.
For me, my weekends were sacred. They were focused on family, and, since both my husband and I work, it's the only time that we can all be together. Work, therefore, is off limits on the weekend. I could not build a business that required working on the weekend, or it would break a fundamental lifestyle rule for us.
I also wanted one day per week where I could focus on something mandatory for my family or me. I have one day set aside for cleaning, organizing, doctor's appointments, or whatever else is required to keep life moving, in general. This day is reserved for these types of activities so I don't feel guilty for doing them when I “should” be working.
2. Crunch the numbers and build a budget.
Jumping into a business headfirst is awesome, and in some cases, really exciting. However, not knowing how much you need to make and how the business will impact your ability to juggle it all is a huge mistake.
As I started crunching numbers for my business, my first pass included a plan for only working two days per week. That first pass, however, proved to not make me enough money. I either had a pricing problem, a frequency of work problem, or both. I eventually struck a balance and figured out how much money I had to make per day I worked.
This exercise greatly assisted me in a few ways:
a) I could see (quickly) how pricing myself too low was going to kill me. I was just going to have to work too much to make what I needed to make.
b) I could play around with working 2 days vs. 3 days vs. 4 days per week, and see what lifestyle sacrifices would gain me, financially.
c) I knew exactly why I couldn't make less than my final scenario illustrated. It made turning down business that was priced at a lower rate way easier.
3. Plan to occasionally turn it all off.
I highly value driving, reading, shooting and watching videos. More times than not, when I allow myself pockets of time to do these things, grand business ideas or ideas for books I can write myself, come to be.
Without pre-planning time to think, shoot for no reason, read or just plain think, I'd never get to do those things and my business would ultimately suffer from a lack of creativity.
There is a misnomer that if you're so busy juggling, you have no time for time off.
Constantly juggling is going to get you nowhere. Taking time off (albeit carefully planned time off) can take you to amazing places with your business.
4. Know what works, what doesn't, and continuously refine.
Nothing is more meaningless and wasteful than doing things that have little impact on the greater good of your business. Whether it's pushing a service that isn't profitable, a marketing exercise with a low return, or being a member of a group you don't gain anything from.
If there is something in your business that isn't getting you to your goals, stop it or change it. Quickly.
Don't be shy or scared to hurt someone's feelings, either. If it isn't working, be upfront and take the time to explain why. As fellow business people, we should all be able to understand this.
5. Let go and know what to outsource.
You cannot do it all.
Yes, we're all perfectionists. Yes, no one edits like we do. Yes, no one handles client calls like we do.
But it's possible to train people, and you might be surprised. If you pick the right person to outsource to or take the time to hire the right person, they might actually do it better.
What things have you found or done in your business to help you juggle it all?