2020 just handed every small business a challenge it never saw coming. I just want to preface this post by first saying, I believe in faith. I believe in prayer, and creating calm where we can in times of chaos. But I also believe that we were never promised a life that would be easy, and so we have decisions facing us in the future and we have to continue to soldier on, especially in times such as these.
I also believe that it’s “times such as these” that will strengthen us as humans. Will they stretch us? Absolutely. But they’ll also mold us, and teach us valuable lessons. As a wedding photographer, I know you’re struggling right now in at least one area of your business. Maybe you’re working hard to figure out how to manage all things legal that you’ve never encountered before and you’re heartbroken for your clients and the future ahead. Maybe you’re running the numbers and creating a financial plan you never thought you’d need. I’m in the trenches with you, but now is not the time to give up.
We all handles things differently, and I completely understand the need to shut down, quiet your soul and just be. Take the time to do that. In fact, do whatever you need to quiet your restless mind and heart. But when you’re ready, come back and start taking action. Everything else aside, now is the time to show the world what kind of business owner you really are. Remove the emotion, take it out of the equation, buckle down and get to work.
Here are a few ideas below to keep the wheels moving in your business!
1. CONTINUE SHOWING UP
Like I said above. Now is NOT the time to stop showing up. I know it might feel like it, and as an Enneagram 4, trust me I know all. the. things. about feelings and emotions. But maybe it’s the nurse in me, I’m also a tough love type of person and I say that now is not the time to sit in your feelings. Your business was just handed the challenge of a lifetime. If you want it to survive this, then you need to put on your business owning hat and tackle it head on.
Come at this from a client perspective. How many times in the past have you seen couples reschedule their weddings on a mass level? Right… never. Be a leader in this industry right now. Now is the time to educate, serve, love, ease concerns. I know that you can’t solve the problems of the world, but what if you could solve one or two problems for a couple who just had their wedding put on hold. What if when we come out the other side of this, they sing your praises even more than normal, because despite all the uncertainties in their plans, you were the one thing that was still certain.
2. MARKET PRODUCTS
I know that a lot of Americans are currently questioning whether or not they’ll have a paycheck tomorrow. But that doesn’t apply to every person and every household. You may be limited from shooting events right now, that does not mean you’re limited from making money. There are really great humans in the world who have the ability to support small business and they want to help. So let them!
Do you have an email list? Send out a quick broadcast letting your list know ways they can support you if they want to. Allow those subscribers to opt-in to a special list. This might help alleviate some of the “ickiness” you feel with selling during a time like this. Then, run a special on print and product sales for past families, portraits and mini-sessions. It’s not insensitive to keep your business afloat. If someone cannot buy, then they won’t.
3. IMPROVE WORKFLOW AND SYSTEMS
Look back over last year’s business. Think through your successes and your struggles with your marketing and client experience. Now is the perfect time to tweak and perfect those areas and make them better than ever. Every area of your business should have a workflow. From your on-boarding process, to your marketing plan and financial management. When you’re busy working in your business (shooting portraits, events and editing), you rarely have the chance to work on your business.
The universe just handed you a pause button so here’s your chance. Most likely, when things pick back up you’ll be busier than ever with once again working IN your business and you’ll be so glad that you didn’t pass up the opportunity to work on your business and improve your workflows. The steps you take today, will set you up for success in the very near future.
4. STICK WITH A SOLID FINANCIAL PLAN
If you haven’t done this already, or you’ve been a little relaxed with your spending lately, now is the time to get a hold on your numbers. Even if you have cash flow coming in, the future still has a lot of unknowns. It never hurts to plan ahead, plus start throwing additional money into savings. To start, pull out last years tax return and print off the past 3-monthly statements from your business account. Next, grab a handful of highlighters and identify which expenses you MUST continue to pay for right now to keep the business lights on. Then, highlight the subscriptions and unnecessary expenses that are nice to have, but that you could put on hold for the time being. From here you can create a list of necessary expenses, pause the non-essentials and plan for future months ahead.
While a lot of small businesses are hurting at the moment, a lot of bigger businesses are stepping up, and it’s amazing to see! For example, if you reach out to Adobe Support, you can request a 3-month credit on your account. It never hurts to reach out to some of your big business providers and ask for a reduced payment or extension on your bill.
5. CREATE CONTENT
As I mentioned above, this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this “pause button” and create content for your business! Content is anything that will help further your business now and in the future when life resumes as normal. You can catch up on blog posts, write your email welcome sequence, or finally put the finishing touches on your pricing guide. While being handed the time and abilities to work on any and all content is nice, make sure you’re approaching it strategically. Brain dump some of your content ideas, and then prioritize one or two areas that will help stabilize your business immediately.
For example, if you’ve been hoping to catch up on all of last fall’s wedding blog posts, while also planning to launch a resource shop for brides, I wouldn’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Throw together a blog post with your top favorite images from those fall weddings, include a free download to help brides plan their best fall wedding, (ahem, for all those Spring brides now becoming Fall brides), and then wrap up with putting the final touches on your resources and launch plan! Take time from one area (writing ALL of those blog posts) and put it towards a more strategic area (serving valuable content to your audience.)
Now is the time to get creative. As an entrepreneur, this IS in your wheelhouse. You’re going to come out of this stronger than ever before.