Confidence in Your Business

Hi Everyone!! I hope you're loving this gorgeous weather we're having (I'm in Pennsylvania and it's currently sunny and 65!). Over the last few months, I took a step back from mentoring creatives on their businesses so that I could take the time to focus on growing my business.  But while my wedding photography is growing, I feel a little whole in my heart for the business side of it.  I will always say it...photography is my passion, but business and accounting are my calling.  So here's a really important blog post to start us off, with hopefully lots more to come!

We're going to start off with the very first thing that I go over with anyone who takes my mentoring.  Sometimes its a subtle conversation, where you don't even know that I'm telling you it and sometimes it's a more bold in your face conversation.  Either way, it is SOOO important!  Are you ready to hear what the number 1 thing you should have in your business is... well it's Confidence!!

Now you are probably rolling your eyes at me thinking, "I am following a business blog because I want to know more about the skills it take to make my business great, so why are you talking about confidence?!?!"  Well the answer to that is easy!!  Confidence in yourself and your business is the most important thing when it comes to owning your own company.  If you do not believe in yourself, your skills and what you are capable of, your business will fail every time. 

So I want you to do something for me.  Take out an image from a recent session that you weren't so happy with.  Come on, I know you have one, we all do!  Than I want you to take out a piece of paper, look at that image, and than critique it.  Write down notes like it's the first time that you have ever looked at it.  Did you write down all your critiques?  Ok, great!  

Now look at the list.  Was everything that you wrote on that list negative criticism??  Good. Now I want you to crumple up that horrible list and throw it away.

Let's do it again.  Look at that very same image for a second time now.  Take out a new piece of paper and start critiquing your image.  But this time, write down 5 GOOD things that you see!  Is the emotion there?  Did you compose the picture correctly?  Did you get the perfect Bokeh on that image?  

My under exposed, weirdly composed, could have been so much better picture!  But in this picture, I can feel a soul in that alley...the picture has a voice, the greens pull me in... all you have to do is look for the good!

My under exposed, weirdly composed, could have been so much better picture!  But in this picture, I can feel a soul in that alley...the picture has a voice, the greens pull me in... all you have to do is look for the good!

Are you surprised that once you stop focusing on the negative parts of the photograph, seeing the wonderfulness of it comes a lot easier?  Your business is like your images.  Some days, you will have beautiful perfect days.  Everything will fall into place just right and you will feel confident in your decision to be a full time photographer.  But at the same time, there will be days that just plain suck.  You won't make your sales goal, your clients may hate their images, your equipment broke or that perfect session just cancelled on you.  It is inevitable that it will happen. 

The important thing to remember is that even on those hard days, you have to take a step back, throw out your negative thoughts and look for the good.  Find the pieces that will give you the confidence boost that you need and remind yourself that you ARE a super awesome amazing photographer.  Confidence will keep you floating on your good days and help guide you on the bad.  So remember, even when you have that super fuzzy, can't focus on anything, the color is all off day...focus on those perfect catch-lights you captured or the sweet moment that you were there for.  

Now keep that paper by your computer and every time you are having an off day or feeling that you just aren't as super amazingly awesome of a photographer as you are, look at that image and than look at that list.  Remember, even on your worst days, you are still a great photographer!

Setting Your Goal and Sticking To It!

Having a Sales Goal:
In the big corporate world, companies have a plethora of resources to know what's going to happen in the future.  The use programs to do "long range planning" and they are able to predict what will happen in the next year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years and so on! 

 

The benefit of doing these projections is so that you know going into each new-year of business, how much money you can and will make.  Now don't get me wrong, even the big fortune 500 companies don't always meet there goals, but having the knowledge to know how to plan to meet them, is a step in the right direction. 

 

What is a Sales Goal:
So I know you're asking yourself now… what is a sales goal and how do I come up with one if I am just a little business by myself, or even just a hobbyist starting out. I promise you, you can!!  A sales goal tells you how many of each type of session you offer that you should sell in a time frame.  This will help you reach the amount of income that you want to make.  That way you're not guessing about how many more sessions you need to book to make what you need to each year.  It also is a great tool to use when it comes to raising your prices or giving yourself a session amount goal!

Now Let’s Do Some Math!!
The challenge with photographers in planning is that we have a mixture of packages that we offer.  To figure out how many of each session you have to hold to make your goal you do a little math.  Open up Excel or your Google Docs program and let's try it-

1.       Look at the last year of sessions that you have and in separate columns, list out each session, how many of each session you had, and how much money in total you made from all those sessions in that type.

2.       In the last column, total up the sales from all your sessions than divide each session types total by the total sales.  This is called your Sales Mix percentage.

3.        For example- If you have a mix of packages totaling $28,600 and in the past year you had 11 sessions of Package A. totaling $1,100 and 10 sessions of Package B. totaling $2000 dollars. Your total sales would be $3,300.  To get your sales mix percentage you would than divide $1,100/$28,600 and get 3.85% and then $2,000/$28,600 and get 6.99%.  Keep doing this for all your session types.  When you have all the percentages in for all the different packages, the total percentage should = 100%.

4.       Now that you have your percentages from last year, you can calculate how much money of each type of session, you need to make in the new year to make your goal. You would take the total amount of money you want to make in the next year,  let's say its $40,000 an you would multiply the percentages for each session type by that $40,000.  This will give you the total amount you need to make for each package.  

5.       Example - $40,000 X 3.85% is $1,538.   

6.       The last step is to come up with your new session prices for the upcoming year (or if you are not changing prices, you can put your old ones in!) and divide your session price by the total dollar amount that you need to make for that Package.  

7.       Last example!!  (WOOHOO)  Take Package A. which you newly priced at $200 and divide it by $1538.46 and you get 8 sessions, rounded up or down. Then take Package B. which is $400 and divide that by $2,797 and you get 7.  Do this for each session type you have listed.

8.       Now you sit back and take a look at alllll the numbers you just produced!

What Do I Do With This Info??
Now you have the numbers what do you do with them??  You know that to make your goal of $40,000 next year your prices, you have to sell a total of 72 packages.  Based on your sales mix from the prior year, you can see how many of the different types of packages you may be able to sell to reach your goal. 

If you play with the numbers by weeks, months, days, change your pricing, add packaging, add a post-tax amount (take what you want to make and divide it by about 1.35, which is a rough tax estimate, and use that number) or any other fun combination you can think of, it can give you a lot of insight for what your business will look like next year and how to start thinking about marketing to get you there.  

Do you feel ready to set up your sales goal and achieve it?? I know you are going to rock it!! Check back with us or sign up for our newsletter for other business tips and advice!

Why Do You Need an Accountant

Hi my super amazing fellow creatives!  My name is Jess and I am an aspiring photographer (I still can't get used to saying that, since I never thought I would find this amazing talent of mine!!).  I love capturing love, family giggles, intimate moments and just the beauty that's in our everyday life!  There really is no comparison to hearing the click of my shutter and than seeing what moments I was able to capture behind my lens. 

But that's not the only passion in my life.  When I'm not running around capturing images of every amazing thing I see, I am stuck behind a desk for a big corporation, being an Accountant.  Now I know you all just let out a huge groan with the thought of  working a job like accounting, but I can't help but love it as much as I do photography.  The steadfastness of numbers has always given me a sense of security.  And I have always loved analyzing a company's financial information and than teaching and guiding them to obtaining their full growth potential.   

Than I had a thought one day...why can't I combine my two passions.  Most creative people are amazing at what they do, whether they are a photographer, florist, artist, baker, builder, ect.  Their passion shows clearly through their work.  But what they aren't amazing out is back office part of running a business.  It's one thing to put all your expenses in a spreadsheet and than put all your sales in another spreadsheet and seeing how much you made that year.  It's another thing to be able to take that information and grow with it!  So I started mentoring creatives on how to read this information, along with how to keep a stressfree bookkeeping system.

So, that brings us to the main part of this post.  Why do you need to hire an accountant??  I think the best answer I have to that is the same one I would give my clients who ask why they need to hire a professional photographer.   Because that is what they are trained to do. Accountants go through a rigorous degree course and than continue training throughout their career to hone their skills, learning the logic and details behind what they do, and learn the intricate regulations and laws that come with running a business.

Tax/Business laws and regulations are monitored by the township where your business is, the state your business resides in and the Federal Government.  Each body of government has different rules and work together in different ways.  They are also always changing.  It is practically a full time job just to keep up with the rules that are in tact to run a business.  Than interpreting those rules is another skill in itself. 

Just like photographers, there are many different types of Accountants.  There are ones that do taxes, ones that plan budgets and help set goals, ones that do everyday transactions (like bookkeeping) and ones that teach and train people how to run their business successfully.   Hiring the right professional can help alleviate tons of stress in your business and help you get to that salary goal you are trying to obtain. 

I know for a fact that you can absolutely rock your creative business!  With hard-work and dedication, you will obtain the goals you have set for yourself.  But the only way a business owner will ever be successful and not become burnt out, is by getting the help that is available.  Having an Accountant is a great step going to from being a super awesome creative to a super awesome creative business owner.