I recently received a message from a newer photographer that read something like this,
“I can’t see how I’m supposed to piece all of this together. I feel like I can only see the bigger picture, but need a map of how to get there and what to do next.”
She’s not alone. I can remember feeling this way at one point and I know that so many of you also feel this way, too. And although there’s not one cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all answer because each business is different, the good news is that there are a few key steps to take to start identifying the next goals you should be focused on in order to take to make your business a success.
Define your version of success.
Sit down in a calm and quiet space and clear your mind. Don’t think about what other photographers, florists, wedding planners, or any other business in your field are doing or not doing. Instead, I encourage you to think about the real reason you started your business in the first place, then write it down. If you don’t define success clearly how will you know when you’ve reached it?
For example, success to some small business owners is having the ability to make a certain amount of money and set their own schedule while another business owner’s idea of success in their business is getting published on the cover a industry magazines, being a key speaker at major events, or winning awards and notoriety. Whatever your definition of success is, try to include both quantifiable and qualifiable components because it will becoming increasingly more clear what you need to do to get there.
Clarify your reason for being in business for yourself.
It’s important to know, very specifically, why you chose to start a small business because it requires a lot more work, in most cases, than being an employee for someone else. As a solopreneur, you’re the CEO, the bookkeeper, the secretary, the PR representative, the sales force, and everything else in between. If you don’t have a very clear reason for why you’re in business for yourself, your path will always be difficult to navigate and you may even get to the point of asking yourself, “Is this even worth it?” and end up becoming a part of the staggering statistic that tells us 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. So ask yourself, are you in business because you want a certain level of financial freedom? Is your goal to retire at 40 or 50 with over one million in the bank? Or maybe you are simply looking for a creative outlet paired with the opportunity to earn some extra money while you spend more time at home raising your children. Whatever your reason is, it’s not wrong or less than the next persons, so be completely honest about this part. You’ll see having a very clear understanding of your why is crucial to knowing what the next step is towards achieving your goals.
Make a list
I’m a huge fan of making lists because when my thoughts and ideas are put on paper, the steps I need to take next are always made much more clear. To start, you can download this free Goal Prioritizer Chart I created, or you can create a chart of your own. Next, write your definition of success and your reason for being in business for yourself at the top of your chart. Then, in the first column, list all of your goals you have for your business. Do you want to make a certain amount of money this year? Are you trying to add a team member on to your staff or outsource some of your work? Do you want to start expanding your current geographic market or is your goal to become a leader in your local area? Or maybe you’re looking to add a new service or product to your business? Whatever your goals are, write each one down, then, in the next column, prioritize each goal.Once all of your goals are in order of priority, look at the first three goals on your list and write down an attainable, realistic deadline. Last but not least, review your list of goals and ask yourself if there are any goals that aren’t in line with your definition of success and your reason for being in business for yourself. If you find any, cross them off. That’s right. Get rid of them. Remember, this process is about creating and growing your business.
Creating deadlines for yourself is an important and effective necessary strategy towards achieving your goals and running a business you’re proud of. Creating deadlines also holds you, as an entrepreneur, to be accountable. Prioritizing your goals helps to put things into perspective of what’s truly most important and also makes your list more manageable.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that running your business is a lot like running a marathon. This is a long distance race. You have to be focused, committed to your success, disciplined, you have to pace yourself, and you have to know that you’re not in this race alone. So put your running shoes on and meet me at the start line because we’re in this together.
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer” – Nolan Bushnell
If you found this post helpful let me know by leaving a comment below. If you know someone else who would benefit from this article, share it with them via the ‘share’ button below.
To receive more business advice and encouragement for entrepreneurs delivered right to your inbox, sign up to receive our e-mails with the form below.