Good Morning Everybody,
We had a 5 hour drive to the Indiana Dunes National Seashore yesterday, got settled into our hotel and headed to Mt. Baldy, the largest sand dune in North America. Yep, our plan was to re-live LaDawn's Mt. Baldy experience of years ago and climb to the top.
Now many of you don't know, but about two months ago, I decided to "clean up my act" and get into shape. Hey, better late than never, right;~). Anyway, I have fully embraced a much healthier diet, and dare I say, exercise. Yes me, exercise - yikes. But the reality is that I’m walking up to about 4 miles a day and feeling better. As a matter of fact the results of my new health venture has resulted in a nearly 40 pound weight loss, blood pressure well into the normal category, and a cholesterol reading that is literally one half what it was - yes, 1/2 the previously number and now well below normal.
Anyway, I'm ready for Mt. Baldy, right? WRONG! Good ol' Mt. Baldy did me in yesterday. At roughly 125 feet tall, Mount Baldy is the largest "living" dune in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As the dune moves, it buries everything in its path, including trees.
You know, walking uphill in sand is quite a chore. And when you're trying to do it on one of the biggest sand dunes in North America, it's both daunting and exhausting. The dune is actually three times higher than it seems. Why? Because for very three steps you take forward, you slide back two. But after a lot of effort, we did it.
Now take that adventure off my "bucket list". I am over sand dunes, sand, and Mt. Baldy. Heck, I don't even know if I ever even want to walk on a beach again! OK, maybe I'm over reacting now. Beaches, oceans, and sunsets are still OK for me :~)
Wait now, maybe hang gliding off Mt. Baldy would have been better – uhmmmm…
Hey gang, enough of my adventures yesterday. How about we get on with today's Business Day Thursday. Here we go.
Resting On Your Laurels, A Guaranteed Path To Failure
Over the last 5-7 years I have watched many photographers studios "bite the dust" and go out of business with those business owners lamenting the fact that times and customers have changed and today's customer just doesn't get it anymore.
These photographers, and I was guilty of that too for a while, have been resting on their laurels for the last several years of their careers reaping the benefits of a business that has remained basically unchanged for over 50 years. But change happens, the cheese gets moved, and the successful entrepreneur make moves quickly to adapt. Like I said, resting on your laurels is the surest way to failure - I've seen it over and over.
Having said that, I've also seen a new crop of young, talented photographs move quickly to fill the vacuum created by the "laurel testers". Photographers like Lynn Michele, one of the top new wedding shooters in Dallas. Blair Phillips is tearing up the photography market in Charlotte, NC. And, Zack and Jody Gray are rocking it down in Nashville, TN after only a few short years in business.
So what's the big difference here. Is it just out with the old and in with the new? I don't think so. I think it comes down to the new kids on the block figuring it out a whole lot quicker that the photographers of yesteryear. "Digital" as they say, has changed the way photographers have done business nearly overnight. To many of us, and me included at first, we're slow to change and adapt. But, the new stars on the photographic horizon figured it out early, grabbed the digital tiger by the tail, and are having a great ride.
What does it come down to to be successful in this brave new photographic world? I think it comes down to the same factors it always has and always will - regardless of the age or era entrepreneurs are doing business.
It’s Time To: Invigorate / Innovate / Interpolate
Invigorate: Get yourself excited about what your all about. Get yourself excited about your photography again. Nothing hurts success like apathy. And, when business is slow - apathy, like a cancer, can start to erode away your optimism and enthusiasm. You need to take time to recharge your batteries. Give yourself a creative photographic self-assignment. Start pointing your camera at subjects outside your normal "business box". Take a photo-walk around your city or town and shoot street scenes, flowers, people - start a creative conversation, a dialogue if you will, with yourself with your camera.
Innovate: Shake the dust webs from your product offerings and offer something new. Every six months you need to re-visit what you offer, how you offer it, and consider how you can do better. In that same vein, you need to constantly innovate and introduce new product offerings. Like I said, every six months you have to force yourself to go through that innovating process. Frankly, in today's super fast moving digital world, it's do it or die. Is that really the music you want to face professionally? Then get busy!
Interpolate: Look at where your customers are coming from now and see if there are more customers there. Reach out to your current clients for new referrals and leads. Give them rewards or special incentives (spiffs) for sending referrals your way. The easiest way to do that is with "Two for One", Buy One, Get One", or "Bring A Friend" promotions.
Don't forget to stay connected. That means staying connected with your current and prospective clients. You can do that with all the social media options available to you - from Facebook to Pinterest. Learn and embrace the social media opportunities today. There is no away around it - just do it!!!
Folks, those are a few places to begin. But the real new beginning comes from you and you wanting to make that effort. I always said it was easy to be the best photographer in town. You just have to work a lot harder than the next guy. And, guess what, that's the easy part, because a lot of people just don't want to work that hard. The path is clear for those who want to walk that road less traveled.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. We're spending a few more hours in the Indiana Dunes area and then heading up to Grand Rapids and then onto Frankfort, Michigan later this afternoon. Then for me it's banging out about 6,000 thousand words on my book and a big three day wedding this weekend. Have a good one and I’ll see you soon.