You Don’t Need to be a Lone Wolf


Running a strong business is often about how good a team/network you’ve built.

Lately I keep finding high-impact quotes that hit on some aspect of running a successful business. While most of my readers are photographers, the message with each quote is universal. Here’s a favorite that I tweeted earlier today:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”
African Proverb
Here’s what I started thinking about when I read this quote:

Success isn’t overnight!  New photographers especially are chasing success almost instantly. While now and then there’s somebody who catches an amazing image and becomes a hit out of the box, running a new business is about sustainability. Any moron can get their first customer; the key is getting that first client to come back and spread the word about your business so that you get your second, third, fourth, etc.  Repeat business is about exceeding customer expectations and making working with you not just a purchase but an experience.

Stop acting like a lone wolf! “Networking” is one of the most abused words in business these days, but it’s your network that’s a key to your success. Don’t just collect business cards, build relationships. It takes time, but there’s nothing you need to do alone. Work together and cross-promote with other vendors.

Partnerships save money! Let’s assume you’re thinking about doing a postcard mailing as a family photographer. If you do it alone, you’ve got the burden of 100% of the cost for creative, printing and mailing. However, bring in two partners and your cost drops to a third! That also leaves money to purchase a stronger list for the mailing itself. Plus, with partners you each become an ambassador for the other partners businesses.

Here’s an example: For Mother’s Day a photographer, florist and local restaurant are perfect partners for an over-sized postcard featuring each of you. Your pitch as the photographer is for a family sitting with the other two partners tying into their expertise. Wedding photographers have a ton of potential partners – florists, caterers, venues, salons, wedding planners, limo companies, tux shops, etc.

Be active in your community! In photography, you need to be active in your local PPA affiliate chapter, photographer’s guild or whatever group of photographers meet each month. This not only adds to your network, but it’s also going to give you support when you’ve got a challenge to deal with. Just being able to talk to other photographers about the business is going to give all of you more insight into running your business. Not a photographer? Get active in the local business groups within your community. 

Get to know the vendors/manufacturers! Every product you use in your business has a support team, especially in photography. Your lab, album company and frame company all have staff working with other photographers. Also, whatever camera company you’re using has tech and sales reps. Get to know them by attending the various conventions. Most important of all, get to know the crew at your local camera store. All of these people are a wealth of information. 

More than once, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer had a problem in a shoot, and our local rep would jump in with additional equipment and expertise to help. Getting to know all the reps in your area is an important aspect of building a stronger business.

There’s an easy to understand point to today’s post: You don’t have to do anything alone. Put your ego on the back burner and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks that are simply beyond your expertise or a waste of your skill set. Most important of all, stop acting like UPS is going to deliver a box of success tomorrow. Remember that success is also about the size of the smile on your face every morning.

Photo Credit: © Kletr


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