23 Mar A Note from NAPCP Ambassador Heather Crowder
Start. Stop. Continue.
Where is your mind right now? Spinning? What if’s? Juggling home-schooling your children, with keeping everyone fed, cleaning up after all of those meals (omg is it really time to eat AGAIN?), feeling worried, overwhelmed, and maybe a little terrified about when things will return to ‘normal?’ Busy season is looking pretty good about right now, isn’t it?
We have a choice. You have a choice. You can let your mind run wild with fear, negative thoughts and panic, or you can put it to work for you. I know, I know – it’s so easy to say one thing, but when the thoughts keep coming, it can be hard to control, and your brain just wants to ‘go there’. So let it go…just give it a little direction.
Here’s an exercise that can give your mind some structure (and a feeling of hope) so that when this time of ‘pause’ in your business passes, and everyone starts to push the play button again, you’ll have used this time as an opportunity.
If you’re like me, I’m guessing that there are regularly things that happen in your business that show up on repeat. Some are positive, some are frustrations, and some are those bang-your-head-why-does-this-keep-happening kinds of things. YOU are the common denominator. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Let your mind re-imagine your business. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Start with positives. What would you love to START doing in your business? Is there a new type of client you’d like to start serving? Is there a new session type you’d love to offer. Is there something technical you’d like to learn, but never ‘have time’ to dive in? Is it time to start using legit client management software? Do you want to start offering online scheduling? Have you often thought of shooting a new genre – newborns, headshots, school pictures, commercial work? Is there something missing in your client experience you’d like to initiate? Is there a personal project or non-profit you’d like to start supporting in a big (or small) way. Have you put your marketing ideas on paper and started implementing your NAPCP marketing calendar? Mmmhhmm – I just heard you. “How on earth can I implement a marketing calendar when I don’t even know when I’m going to start shooting again or when clients will start calling…” Stop. You’re right – you don’t know. None of us do, but there will be a time when things return to a new normal. Just think of what it will be like if you’ve taken the time to reimagine your business for the better, instead of being focused on the roadblocks. This time right now can be a gift and an opportunity if you choose to see it that way.
Speaking of stop…what do you want to STOP in your business? This one may be a little tougher because we’re all likely going to be so eager to kick things into gear that we’ll have a sense of “I’ll do anything” when business returns and we start shooting again. In a different time, stops may be things like shooting on the weekends, shooting a genre you don’t love, etc. and I would write those things down for future planning as the ideas come. If it feels a little ‘safer’, think in terms of business practice here. Stop communicating entirely by email with clients and pick up the phone. Stop including too much in your lowest package. Stop communicating with clients ’round the clock’ and set up office hours and stick to them.
What frustrates you about your business? There’s likely something that comes up again and again that you’d like to change (and this one often means taking a hard look in the mirror). Many of the things we want to stop, are the product of our own habits and things we’d like to change in ourselves. Do you need to stop doing everything at the last minute? Should you stop working at all hours with no structure in your day? Maybe you want to stop jumping on social media whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t want to start a task you’re dreading. Whatever it is, don’t oversimplify with just “I need to stop doing…”. For this one, you’re going to have to dig a little to get to the why of what’s happening.
Time for the best part, but it’s easy to skip past this part of the exercise. What do you want to continue doing in your re-imagined business? This is all about your strengths, what you enjoy most, and perhaps, some boxes you can consider checked in your overall process of doing things. Continue delivering an amazing client experience. Continue outsourcing that thing that you hate to do (this is a place where you might be tempted to ‘save money’ by bringing it back in house, but believe me, you overcame something to outsource it in the first place, so leave it there). Continue creating beautiful photographs in the style you’ve become known for. Continue working with a non-profit that you love to support. Continue offering the unique style of mini-session that fills your heart (and is wildly successful). Continue your uber efficient work-flow that you’ve perfected over the years. These can feel easy, or unnecessary but don’t skip this part. This is the ‘feel good’ that you not only need right now, but also deserve to relish in. You built a business. A BUSINESS. Your blood, sweat, tears, energy, money, etc. have all gone into that business so let the words and wins flow.
Don’t be tempted to let that need-to-be-perfect brain of yours feel all overwhelmed and shut down. This exercise isn’t a business plan – it’s a brain storming session. Start with 3 things in each section and see where your mind goes. Give yourself a few minutes, grab a notebook, and start writing…
What would I love to START doing in my business?
What should I STOP doing in my business?
What will I CONTINUE doing in my business?
Heather Crowder Photography
2020 NAPCP Ambassador