Your professional network. This is something really important to long-term success. And I have found that one of the most common things with home-based businesses, photographers, or any kind of home-based business is you start to get this feeling of isolation, loneliness, you don't know what's going on in the rest of the world, in the industry. You've got to stay involved somehow to keep connected and to keep inspired. It's very easy to lose your motivation when you're sitting at home by yourself in front of a computer, or trying to go out and work and create creative images, and you don't have an assistant or anybody to help you or friends that support you with creative ideas and all that sort of thing. So, consider how you can grow your network because you absolutely have to. As shy as you might feel you are, you have to start forming a network to support you, unless you're just an incredibly self-motivated kind of person, which is really, really rare, that you can do this all by you...
rself, you're gonna need help. You're gonna need a support network, okay? The benefits of this team which you're gonna build up is, of course, other view points. We know that, broader knowledge base, better solutions, the motivation to go out and do something, and the accountability. That's a huge one. Remember that business group that I joined in Bend? And one of the most important things of this group was the accountability where I bring a problem to the group, and they'd give me all these solutions, these great ideas, and I'm kind of overwhelmed with these ideas, but I had ideas. And then they would say, "Okay, next month, "you need to come back and report to us "what you did with these solutions we gave you." So I couldn't just go home and go to bed. I can't do any of this stuff. I had to actually get busy and start implementing these because I felt accountable to my group, and then I'd do them. And miraculously, you do them, things change. Things get better. And I could go back next month and say, I did this. I did this, I did this, this is what happened. So that accountability was really, really huge. And that's a very important part of a whole team, okay? So, you're like, "I don't have a team. "I don't know where to turn for a team." You can build your own team. You can have a virtual board of directors, your VBOD. (laughing) And I did this myself. I have a, my company is incorporated, so I have a real board of directors, but they're not really the people I turn to for photo advice and creative support and all that. So I formed my virtual, I call it a board of directors, but it's just sort of like this mind meld. I talked about that a little bit the other, too. So I basically called a bunch of other photographers, and you guys could connect with each other here, and say, "Hey, let's stay in touch. "Let's be a virtual board of directors "for each other, if we wanted to." Or contact people, whatever, you meet at other conventions, whatever. But form a formal thing and say, "We need to support each other. "We need to motivate each other. "We need to keep each other accountable. "Let's do this." Once a month, you can get on a Skype conference call or whatever, if you can't physically get together. Or you can get joint coffee if you guys are in the same town. And you're gonna support each other, talk about what you're doing, what problems you're having, what you need help with. And they're gonna throw you suggestions. And you're gonna keep the small-talk out of it. You're gonna get down to business. Each person takes a turn sharing what they need, what they're having problems with, and the others throw in ideas. And then you implement them, come back, and tell them what you did. It's as simple as that, and it's a powerful, powerful thing. So, other photographers can do it. If you're afraid of sharing information with other photographers or for some reason you just can't get other photographers to commit to this idea, you could always just hook up with other small business owners. And this is really easier than you'd think, if you just put it out there and ask. You meet somebody, you say, "Oh, I just started "my own little business." Or, "I've got my own small business or a little shop." And you happen to feel like, "I've got a connection, "this person's cool." Ask them, "Would you be interested in joining "a little virtual board of directors group? "We can help each other grow the business." I'll bet you 8.7 out of 10 people would say yes. 8.8, maybe (laughs). You guys are really tired, you didn't even laugh at-- (laughing) That was a really good joke, alright? (laughing) Alright, that wasn't that good a joke, I admit. So, we talked about these, but S.C.O.R.E. Or, did I talk about S.C.O.R.E.? I don't think I did. S.C.O.R.E. is a really cool service. This is something, Organization of Retired Executives. So these are experienced, retired executives sitting by the phone, waiting to help you solve your problems for free. Did you hear that? (laughing) Experienced, retired, professional executives waiting by the phone for you to call and ask for help, for free. It's pretty darn awesome. And I've used them myself, for my business, and there's local chapters, like every town has their own, and the guy that we contacted actually met with us. We meet at the library because they have a free little meeting room. And he'd meet us down at the library. And we'd go down there every couple of weeks. And he'd sit with us for an hour, hour and a half, and help us work through some number-crunching things we were dealing with, like that. And it's amazing. And they never charge anything. That's what they do. They donate their time to this organization when they retire. So you have these, a lot of these guys have run multi-million dollar, billion dollar, companies, multiple companies over their lifetime. So they got so much experience, so it's great. But you gotta ask for their help. They're not gonna call you, FYI. Alright, opportunity knocks, the other one I talked about earlier as well. The next piece of this is surrounding yourself. Surround yourself with the people you'd like to be like. If you're hanging around people who are sucking and doing terrible and mean and grouchy, you're eventually gonna be like that, too. But, if you surround yourself with successful people, (laughing) it'll probably rub off on you and you will eventually learn to be successful like they are. And that's just kind of this magic fact. It's not unique to us, it's just kind of the way it is. Same, just your personal life, if you're hanging around friends that are always downers and complaining, you guys know this, right? Eventually you go home and you're like, "Ah, I can't believe I just had "this amazing date with Sally." Or, you hang out with your friends that are all bubbly and happy and you go home, and you're just jazzed, and it rubs off on you. So surround yourself with the right people. Memberships, these are two that I've been members of for years. WPPI, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, and PPA, which is Professional Photographers of America. They have chapters in every state, in most cities. They both offer a lot of benefits. PPA offers a lot of the insurance stuff we talked about and the legal advice and help, so it's really quite worth getting involved with those. The only other thing I've noticed over the years here, the education we know about that, you're doing that right now, you're getting the education. Get your education, but don't be a workshop junkie (laughs). And what that means is I know of a few photographers that go to workshop after workshop after workshop and they spend their whole year going to workshop, back-to-back workshops, but they never actually use anything they learned at the workshops. They just kind of feel like it's gonna happen if they go to the workshop. So, I'd say it's better to go to one good workshop, and do everything on your list over the course of the year before you hit up another workshop. Because then you go to the next workshop, and you're like, "Oh wait, now she said "to do it slightly differently, "so I'm gonna change my plan and do this. "And I'm excited about this now, I'm gonna do that." Then you go home, and you're like, "Oh wait, there's another workshop. "Oh, now she said do it slightly differently. "I'm gonna change and do it that way." So many of these people have great advice. They're only giving the advice because it's worked for them, so it's not like it's bad advice, but it might be bad for you. But you have to start and try something, and then find out. Before you jump to something else, try it, and then change. Alrighty then, workshop junkies. I'm not gonna read over all of this, but I will put it out there. This is in the download. You guys of course here are gonna get all this stuff, so you don't have to worry about scrounging to get it all. But, these are some online things that I've talked about, some I haven't. Sarah Petty, she's a good friend of mine, does Joy of Marketing, which is a really great resource for marketing for photographers. They've got marketing classes here at Creative Live. Some of the things we've already talked about over here. Some other good books that I've found, these are more business-related books that have been really influential and helpful in some way, shape or form over the years. A lot of these you'll recognize, maybe you've read them, maybe you need to re-read them. A lot of books I kind of hear about, I go, you know what, I read that when I was like 12 years old. I need to read it again because there was some good stuff in there. So, it pays to go back and look at these things again at some point. On the next page, these are some books that are a little more on the inspirational side of being successful. And I know we're trying to talk dollars and cents and all that kind of stuff, but I really believe that you kind of have to be grounded as a person. You have to be thinking in a positive way to communicate and to sell and to work well with your clients. The body language I talked about. This is the book on body language, really fascinating. It's a fun read. Great to just understand these little subtle cues that we give off, as well as what our clients give off. So how do you know, when you're sitting with a client and trying to sell them on something, how can you read, just from their body language, whether they are into what you're saying or they're not? Or, they're believing you or (laughs) they're not, right? This is the obvious one. (laughing) "Why should I spend $35,000 on your wedding package?" But there are other, little, more subtle cues, too, that they give off that you can recognize, and sort of head it off before they have to even say something, okay? So anyway, that was really cool. I'm not gonna just read through them all. You guys can see here. I put my book in here just because I was so excited to put my book in there, too (laughs). And it's a great lighting book, but it's also, it has a little inspirational kind of secret messages in there, too. This is a great book, Fierce Conversations. I don't know, there's Fierce Leadership and Fierce Conversations. Fierce Leadership is more towards if you're kind of leading other people as a company leader, whatever, you have employees and all that. Fierce Conversations is really about how to have that real dialogue with people and customers. It's very important to learn to have the fierce. And it sounds like fierce is mean. It doesn't meant that at all. It means intentional. It means a real conversation, not a low-level conversation. And that's such a valuable skill to learn, especially when dealing with customers because you can make them feel important and heard. And you will hear them, which is actually amazing. If you think about, sometimes people are talking to you and you're not really thinking. You might be thinking about your phone. You can tell their eyes are kind of wandering. They're not really listening to what you're saying. They're like, "Yeah, oh, that's cool. "Yeah you went to this thing." Dah, dah, dah, and you know they didn't really hear anything you said. And I've done that before when I'm distracted, but I've also learned to be as present as I can, nowadays anyway, to hear what they're saying. And I've found that people are more interesting than I ever thought they were (laughs). Magically, people are really cool. People have great stories. They have interesting things to share, and I'm really actually genuinely excited to hear what they're telling me because I've trained myself to actually listen to them. Wow, what a concept. And I think that's a pretty cool skill to learn to make your clients feel special. Anyway, a lot of other good stuff in there, but you can download and check those out, and see what speaks to you. Questions anybody? Well, questions of course, but then, you have something to say, Jim, I can feel it.
One quick question from here, how do you know it's the right time to bring in your first employee?
Ooh! When you can't handle it anymore. (laughing) Yeah, that's a good question, and I think it's one of those things that you will just kind of know. You're overworked, you're feeling like you can't get it all done. Usually people don't feel like, "I got tons of extra money, I'm gonna hire somebody." It doesn't always work that way. It's like, "I'm just working myself to the bone. "I can't handle this. "I need help." And it's usually, "I don't know if I can afford this or not, "but I have to do it or I'm gonna kill myself" kind of thing, you know (laughs)? I don't mean kill myself like (screeches), I mean like, I'm just gonna keel over because I'm so tired. So, it's pretty a natural progression, but a lot of times you have to almost always it's gonna be really uncomfortable to hire your first employee. You will feel like you're not ready, like you don't have enough money, like how are you gonna afford this. Just trust me, everybody goes through that. Everybody feels that. And once you do, you're like, "Oh my God, "I'm so happy I have this help. "I feel so much better. "I can go home on time now. "I'm getting so much more done. "My business is growing, yay." So if you're hiring the right person for the right reason, it really should help you grow your business even further so that you can pay for them. That's the whole idea, right? If you're making enough extra, then you pay for them, and it's worth it.