All right, well, welcome everybody we are here creative live we're going to talk about what's next mastering some business fundamentals and again it's about taking it to that next level for you for your business, for your photography. So get ready for some action packed information here so, you know, we talk about why why did we do this? You know, we got the call from creative live I don't want to come back on here and regurgitate something that you've already heard or and when it comes to business, I don't think you can ever here too much of the same thing, right? Sometimes we need that stuff pounded into our heads over and over again. Why? Because we get away from court, right? What is our core fundamental? We all do it, by the way. So for me being in business, we're going into r six and a half seven year mark we are constantly having to go back to fundamentals, right? So those aren't words were just throwing out there. So even for my business, we're still having to go back to fundam...
entals, so don't kind of zone out if you hear something or a term or a concept, you I've already heard that before when you heard it a year ago, there was no context, right? So now when you hear it again, and your business has changed, your business has evolved, you're hearing it with new context, and I'm telling you, don't spark some different thought process for you so right, our businesses again are always involving evolving, we have to innovate or die. That is something I say over and over and over again, and you might think to yourselves, how many times can I innovated? When did you innovate? If you didn't innovate yesterday, you're not innovating enough, and so you're going to see from even from my business stuff you've never seen before. All right, so we intentionally what I like to do typically is when I come out here and creative live and show the world what we're doing, I like to have a little gap of time between what I show you and how long ago I did it and the reason is simple. All my competitors are watching here today, right? I heard somebody, uh, you know, in the chat room from st louis, right? And we goto we went to a bridal show in january, and when we went to that bridal show in january, there were about thirty some odd photographers there. I'm telling you, twenty eight watched us on creative life because all their booths looked identical. Tow our booth design, they were even calling their packages the same thing, right? But instead of being like the black label collection or this right, it was called the red label collection or something like that. And that's that's great that's uh, you know, I love the, you know, it's flattering for us to see all that butt. How do I continue to elevate my own business? Because make no mistake, I'm not a professional educator, we actually run a real studio, we do forty plus weddings a year, we do fifty to one hundred seniors in portrait sessions and on and on, so I still have to be competitive and that's the best thing for all of you out there is to realize that when you're hearing our message from us, you're not hearing some theoretical nonsense from somebody. Who's, not really a shooter. You're hearing things that a really business a real photographer is doing, whether you love my imagery love my message or not, it doesn't matter your steel still hearing from a riel bonafide business, and I think you have to take that to heart, right? We put too much emphasis in our industry, sometimes on this kind of rock star mentality don't fall for that nonsense, okay, if you're gonna put your business together who do you want to model it after? Do you want to model it after somebody who's been successful or somebody who talks about being successful? I think there's a big difference, and so we'll kind of flush all that stuff out. But here's, the one thing we realized when we came off, right? Uh, you know, three or four different times that we've been on here is there's varying skill levels, and so I can dump all this knowledge on you. And you guys have been hand picked for a reason I can dump all this knowledge on you, but implementation becomes the challenge, right? If I'm, like, find the right client, you're like, I'm trying, man. We're trying to find that client I can't find I'm get I'm getting all the crappy ones out. Well, right? So you're at a different level. I'm at a point in my career now, at six, seven years in where I know how to find my client. But I don't want you to believe because I got a good story for you that we always are successful at finding the right clients. Sometimes the wrong client walks in, but are you strong enough to walk away from that client, right, right, because green kicks in. Right, we all get greedy. I'm greedy. I want money. I want success. I'm running a business, so I want I want all the money and so is I'm going after that money. Sometimes I've got I've got a balance the greed of wanting to grow my business and pay my bills and buy new equipment balance that with looking at this client is going to be a nightmare. They're going to be a bull in a china shop and they're going to cause me more pain then it's worse than any thousand or ten thousand dollars could be worth so we'll talk about that a little later. But back to this point, all of you, whether you're a newbie, intermediate or an established business, your challenges, even though fundamentals don't change right. The fundamentals of running a business are the same for all of us, however ifyou're that fifteen year, twenty years studio, you're not really worried about the same things that somebody who, you know, we heard in the beginning are going after new bride's, totally different challenges. So how do we take our messaging and apply it to each of those various skill levels? And that is the whole concept. Behind what we're going to do over the next three days is put together that road map for you is a newbie, putting it about that road map for you if you're an intermediate studio or in advance studio, right? So we're gonna talk about different challenges, but again, fundamentals don't change the other thing I want to hear from you, especially out there on the internet and you guys hear that's? Why you've been handpicked? We talked about it this morning is obviously you've watched you've learned you've heard our message, you've gone off and you've tried to three, four, five things arm or some of worked some having you run into some challenges, some roadblocks, what are they? I want to hear them. I want to help you push through them that's the ultimate goal here. So out there be active in the chat rooms, make sure you're telling us hey, here's, what works? You know, I did these three or four things that sound was talking about, but here's what's worked here's where I'm hitting roadblocks, okay? Because I am tired of hearing about the economy and that's why your business is failing. Uh, it's, there's too many photographers and that's why your business is family so I'm tired of hearing all the excuses excuse time's over right, it's time to put on our big boy pants even if your girls put on your big girl pants. Ok, pull him up and get ready for business, right? We've got to be competitive. You cannot run a business and complain that the reason you're failing is because it's someone else. So what you're saying to me is an entrepreneur. As an owner of a business. You do not control your own destiny, someone else does. The shooting burners do it's their fault? It's not their fault, man. In fact, I think the shooting burners make our job easy if you want to run a real studio it's the easiest way to differentiate yourself if you just want to sell a cd and hand over ctu to your clients and we'll talk more about that over the three days god bless you, go do it, have fun, you're never gonna be successful. Bottom line, we could have this conversation all day long if you just want to be a weekend warrior handing over cds, working for five hundred box, making no profit, keep doing what you're doing because you're making it easier for me to control market share and to dominate in my local market, but if you want to run a real business you want to pay to have your kids go to school, you want to get a new car you want new clothes you want to go on a vacation you want all the new toys that his photographers we want get your crap together and start being an entrepreneur so that we can run our business you are entrepreneurs, not photographers entrepreneurs get it through your head ok, why? Because everybody's a photographer my mother's a photographer I don't compete with her right? There is no competition between me and mama san kata itjust doesn't exist because I am a professional I am an entrepreneur so I'm going to bang you over the head with that over the next three days. Now this may be a start you've seen before I've been talking about it a lot over the last six months pay attention because it might have new meaning for you university of tennessee did a study okay and here's what came back out of that study? These air all businesses by the way, this is not just photography that's how important this is to understand this is businesses all over the country forty percent of all businesses fail in the first two years forty percent of all businesses fail in the first two years you understand where you're at if you're that newbie okay and you're two years or less do you understand the odds or stacked against you to be successful they're already stacked against you just starting your business and saying I'm putting my flag here I'm going to be an entrepreneur I'm going to be a professional photographer forty percent of you're gone in two years fifty five percent of all businesses fail in the first five years, so if you're five years or more at this stage of the game congratulations you have made it more than half of your peers have failed this is the one that scares the life out of me because this is where I'm heading now with my business, right? We're going into r six and a half seven year mark seventy percent of all businesses fail in the first ten years. That is scary. Okay, but here's, what I love the reason for all of this almost fifty percent they found is because of incompetence. Surprise! You don't know what the hell you're doing think about don't when you think about companies and businesses, you typically tend to think about these big uh, you know, the microsofts of the world, right? The monster companies but most of the companies in this country are small and medium sized businesses, okay, so when you start thinking about seventy percent of them were gone in the first ten years and half of them are failing because of incompetence, what does that tell you? A lot of businesses start from what passion we love what we're doing right how did all of us get into photography we love photography we love taking pictures if you make cupcakes how did you get into into opening up your own bakery because you love making cupcakes right and so but if you don't know what the hell you're doing from a business side you're going to run you can make the best cupcakes in the world you're gonna fail it's inevitable you can make the best images in the world you are going to fail handing a cd over is not a business model right it's almost a joke that's like opening up a big shop think about this I don't know why we're talking about bakery so much I want some cupcakes this morning uh yeah I have a sweet tooth for some strange reason but think about if you open up a big shop and you didn't sell cupcakes you sold right the flour eggs and like a packet of like cupcake mix that's what you're doing when you handed over the cd right you're saying your clients when you hand over that cd you're saying hey do me a favor goto sam's club go make your own album going on you know apple make your own ah wedding album and print your own campus and you go to all that stuff I'm gonna hand you a cd right would you goto a bakery would you go to starbucks in the morning? And then they were like here's a cop, here's some beans? Yeah, go over to that corner and you can make your own coffee. You wouldn't do that right doesn't make any sense, there's. No other business in the world that makes sense. But somehow someone in our industry somewhere along the line convinced photographers that this is how you should run your business. You should hand away digital images and you will run a successful studio, not a whole lot of those people running around. I don't personally know anyone running a successful studio, okay? Brick and mortar making a living handing over a cd of images. I don't know anybody, and I guarantee you the audience out there, you're probably sitting there and you're like, yeah, me either. I'm not successful, right? I just if you want to make five hundred dollars a weekend, I guess it all depends on how you define success, but let's get into the incompetence not only fifty percent because of the incompetence, but let's drill into the incompetence specifically. Emotional pricing you would almost think by seeing that stat that they were talking about our industry, right? We all know what emotional pricing is right? I don't know what I should charge for this uh five dollars right that's emotional pricing you don't know what the hell is based on it's based on nothing non payment of taxes whoa business related no knowledge of pricing business related lack of planning business related no knowledge of financing business related in my sounding like a broken record no experience in record keeping business related notice half of the reason you will fail as a business owner has nothing to do with your technical acumen or skill set in the industry you're in right? It doesn't say fifty percent failed because of inability to make cupcakes fifty percent failed because they didn't know what depth of field wass what boca was aura's my a czar newbies call it boki yeah so uh nowhere does it say say that's why you failed in your business it's all tied to business related topics what does that tell you about your business? You've got to get it together and this is where you need to spend your time yes, we have to learn lighting we have to learn posing we have to learn postproduction I'm not saying we ignore that stuff what I'm saying though is we've got to give this the attention it deserves because the's air stats that don't lie your business will fail or succeed because of this it's not because I said so these air studies that are out there from the small business association on universities all over the country right? So that's the part we have to stress guys if you're just tuning in we've got a insane three day agenda in fact I'm worried if we're even gonna get through this and I will not you know russ susan when I got the call to be back on um I can we put something together that will continue to blow people away and can we take it to the next level from even an educational perspective? Good luck keeping up, man, there is a lot of stuff we're talking about here it's gonna be we're gonna talk about establishing goals for your business, right? Because again everything I say I don't want to keep repeating the same thing think of it from a newbie intermediate advanced level so I want to take each one of these topics and kind of drill into each of those three levels because that newbie what's your goal is a newbie. When I was starting out I just wanted to get ten weddings under my belt, right? I thought, man, if I get ten weddings, it'll be awesome, right? But now if I had ten weddings and an advance studio, I'm actually going backwards I'm a business I couldn't survive if I had ten weddings so now I'm thinking completely differently so that's where these topics will hit each ofyou specialist they're generalist as you're growing your business do you specialize or do you become more of a general generalists in photography pricing and packaging always a hot topic today we're going to drill into pricing and packaging but I got a little treat for you because the one thing I teach all the time is I've been telling everybody for years the pricing structure we use today is the same that we've used in the past and then I realized I've never shown anyone my old pricing okay so I actually found the oldest I could find was from two thousand eight two thousand nine okay our pricing so I'm gonna bring up side by side because that's when we were kind of just starting out were right we were about two years into our business I want you to see that it's not make believe it's not smoking mirrors are pricing structure the framework two thousand two thousand nine side by side the structure and framework that you'll see today and you will see a lot of similarities even though the price point might be completely different today uh we'll talk about defining your style that's another question I get all the time how do I define my style? We do a lot of portfolio reviews for photographers out there and they'll send us ten or fifteen of their images to review and critique and one thing that stands out almost every photographer that does that and sends it to us the images are not consistent and I don't know if you guys know what I mean mean, buy that you can't have one image where you're showing this traditional pose of a bride let's say, and they're standing there holding your bouquet and then I go to the next image and you've got a bride laying on a railroad track and, you know, she's doing something like that, I mean, that doesn't make any sense you're you're sending the wrong message, your client, right? So we've got to find your style because very closely related to defining your style is finding your client. How do we find our clients, right? The only way we're going to find our client is if we're consistently putting out messaging and branding, that is like a beacon so that your client is attracted to it, right, not other clients. I don't want the wrong clients, I want the clients who see the value in what I do, uh, talk a little bit about business roadmap branding can never talk too much branding, and in fact, once again with branding and marketing, I've gone back into the archives were going look, it's, um, really horrible branding and marketing by south and kata photography from two thousand eight two thousand nine I'm almost embarrassed to show it but we will do that taylor had to go in and go through old folders tto find some of the stuff and she just she's called me a black and she's like oh you're gonna love what I found and I don't love it it's horrible s o it's just interesting to see where our brand has come over the last four or five years networking customer service right? We're going to share with you customer service issues challenges real world scenarios that we've had to deal with and I want to hear from you out there as well on this right even in the audience what are some customer service issues you're dealing with real customer service issues whether it's around digital negatives clients not happy right don't believe for a minute that all our clients love us all the time that it doesn't happen I'd be standing up here lying to you if I suggested we are perfect with customer service we're not we try to be but we're not and it's ah it's interesting to see how we handle the customer service issues so is you know it's what I always think that what defines your business is not if you make mistakes all businesses make mistakes how do you deal with those mistakes that's what will ultimately define your business new products I guarantee each one of you here and out there I'm gonna blow your minds when I show you the new products that we are offering our clients you've never seen him so there are about three or four new products that no one here or I would say in the world have seen that we wanted to take to the next level for our clients and showcase that tomorrow this stuff is being overnighted here s so it's going to be I think it's gonna be mind blowing um establishing some best practices for your business a training plan what should I what should I learn next what I focus on right? Somebody wrote into the chat rooms and this morning they said I can't balance it all right and I can't bounce it all either what there's so many things I want to do but I don't have enough time to do on so we're going to talk about what that road map should look like because when you're a newbie you're focused you should be thinking about different things than that fifteen year studio you know if you're in business at fifteen years ah and you're trying to learn about like what twitter is we got a lot of work cut out ahead of us so I'm very happy to hear that you are now part of the twitter community so I could stop pick and I won't pick on you um insourcing verse outsourcing right? You want to scale your business and you think you're going to do it all again my hat's off to you but you must not want to grow very big okay? Because the reality is you cannot grow your business by yourself, it's just impossible and some of you here husband wife teams you've got to figure out how to work together what makes sense to be on who's played and more importantly, where do you go when both your plates are full, right? How do you how do you grow from there? And that has been a real challenge for a tailor on myself you know most of you who follow us and our fans of our messaging you all know I'm on probation this year, so I am not allowed to start any new businesses for twenty thirteen but do twenty fourteen is coming quick, I got a laundry list of new businesses I want to begin in fact, you know, susan, we were at dinner last night. I'm starting a new business for you because I'm not allowed to start for myself, so I'm living vicariously through you on many others out there I'll be calling you if that's all right man, call me I can't get in trouble for you calling me so that's that's a good news um how do we build confidence all of us struggle with confidence. It's it's kind of funny. I think any artist who tells you they don't have a confidence issue is just full of crap, right? I mean, we all have confidence issues. And I was on facebook this morning as I was getting ready to come in and somebody posted and they asked me nated and he said to me, he said, uh, do you still get nervous before you go on and do something like this? Oh, my god, I still get nervous, man. You guys saw me, and here I was sitting here, I was starting a pace, right? Waiting for on my cross. Hurry up, keep talking and talking too damn slow. Russ, come on. Right. I just want to get up here starting anxious so I still get nervous, man, when I've got a big wedding or a big event, I get anxious, right? It doesn't. It doesn't cripple me. It just keeps me alert and motivated. So we'll talk more about that, right? How do we build confidence, eh? So that it doesn't paralyze us, and we and we come across a little bit more comments because with that confidence, right? It starts building momentum and suddenly you're getting clients that you never thought you would have. Why? Because you think and believe they're yours right when I walk into a sales meeting, I'm not going in there going I hope they book I hope they both hope they book I'm going on like this my wedding I own it right? You've got to start having that mindset and there's a difference between confidence and arrogance. There's no doubt about it and we've got to learn how to walk that line and then finally on day three you know, we had a big conversation about this yesterday during the pre production meeting I don't want to, dr phil okay, that's not my ultimate goal, but I think we do have some lessons learned if you will about just working together is a husband and wife team okay? So right, I don't want to get and if you're out there working with your spouse man, going into that segment for shore because what I want to do is I'm gonna have taylor out here just for perspective on as we've gone through five, six, seven years what's that roller coaster looked like and making no make no mistake, it has been a roller coaster, okay, so if you see me and taylor here on which is like, yeah, we love each other like no that's, not what it's like, right? Sometimes I want to choke her out, and sometimes she wants to choke me out, right? So that's reality, how do we make it through that? So that it doesn't affect our business, and we continue to grow and things like that. So we'll talk a little bit about it without getting into the psychological aspects of it, right? I don't giving like, marital advice to people. I just want you to kind of, from my perspective, here's, what we've done, that's worked and here's what we've done, that's, uh, failed. So we got an action packed three days, man, if the statistics of forty, forty percent in fifty five percent failure, I would take marriage advice from you, mr sticks might be similar. Yeah, no kidding about marriage, right? Yeah, if you look at that, if you look at that stack and you realize for us in our business that were within that ten year mark, right, we're here, we're getting ready to hit our six and a half seven year mark, and seventy percent of all businesses fail at that point. It's those moments when I see something like this and I'm sitting down with taylor, whether we're at dinner, something we realize how fortunate we are to be at the stage of our business and career that were at and those of you out there who follow us on facebook, whatever you've seen our new studio that we're opening up, that is that's just been amazing growth force, and we always talk about this five years ago. This is not where we expected to be. We never expected to have, like, you know, that building and, you know all the employees we have now and and and that's when irving as well, think about it. From my perspective, I feel like I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders, right? I've got my team back home that if I'm not out working and earning and shooting, then they don't have jobs when you start growing that way, it's. Not just you and your spouse or it's, not just you. You start realizing you've got a whole bunch of people depending on you that's. When you start that's, why I get nervous. I mean, why wouldn't I make anybody nervous? Right? So no it's, cool stuff.