Guest Article: Stick to Money-Making Activities

A big thanks to today’s guest blogger, Emily Potts, for sharing her secret to keeping sane when business picks up.

When I first started my business, I had no money, no clients, but plenty of time. Needless to say, it was very easy for me to assume that all of my time was a free commodity. Now with two very busy businesses and a young family, I realize that time is my most precious asset and is something I would pay dearly for if I could get even a little more of it!

Today, more than ever, I see photographers making the same mistake I did. They believe that their time is free, and they spend it unwisely. As their business grows and their time becomes more scarce, this “overspending” winds up bringing them to their knees.

As a business owner, it is important to differentiate non-money-making activities from those things that add revenue to your bottom line. For example, holding an in-person consultation with a client and educating her about decorating her home with photographic art makes an impact on your sale. Paying your sales taxes does not. Creating a great newsletter that informs clients of your holiday card event helps you book sessions, which generates income. Editing sixty images does not.

My guess is that many of you are running your business completely on your own. You don’t have a staff  doing things for you like answering phones, packaging orders, editing images, or doing your bookkeeping. You are responsible for doing all of the tasks that keep your studio running. In the beginning, when you don’t have many clients, this isn’t such a big deal. You’re able to keep up with all of the to-do’s because, frankly, there aren’t that many of them!

As your business grows, you’ll find that handling all of the tasks tends to mean one thing: You don’t sleep, and your blood-caffeine level should be illegal. Not a good situation to be in long-term! As you grow, it will become more important to only spend time on the things that must be done by you, and that bring revenue to your business. You’ll need to delegate the tasks that that aren’t necessary for you to do and that don’t generate income for your studio to someone else.

Fortunately for those that aren’t really ready to hire someone, there is an option between full-blown insanity and acquiring a staff. You can outsource! In my studio, I outsource three main things: my bookkeeping, my post-production, and my cleaning! I determined that it does not make my business a single dime if I sit there and struggle with figuring out how to do payroll. I don’t make a penny more if I spend three hours or three minutes retouching a portrait. And, I’ll admit it, I didn’t run the numbers on cleaning . . . I just wanted to hand it over!

For those of you who are considering outsourcing things like your post-production, I encourage you to build it into your workflow and your pricing as soon as you’re possibly able. You will maximize the growth potential of your studio by implementing systems that allow you to spend all of your time doing more profitable things, and this will prevent the headache of trying to make big changes when you’re buried under a pile of work!

Today, I encourage you to sit down and think of at least three activities in your business that you could delegate to someone else. Develop a plan to outsource those activities over the next few months so you can focus your energies doing what you love . . . and what generates income!

Emily Potts owns Emily Potts Photography, a boutique portrait studio specializing in newborns, families with small children and high-school seniors. She is also the writer of the widely-read blog Moms With Cameras