In Matthew 7:24, Jesus says “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Day Three at the NC edition of Extreme Makeover:Home Edition was one of the most important. The foundation was poured for the Friday family’s bigger and better home. Great care and attention was given to this step in the building process and the foundation had to remain untouched for a good period of time too. If the foundation was not structural sound, the entire structure would crumble.
As you’ve been reading, we have torn down the walls of In His Image Photography by Julie and surveyed what remained after the dust settled. Now, we are laying a foundation of our own for our future. This time, it will be more calculated, more strategic and strong enough to handle all the storms likely to come our way.
I love Jesus’ promise that the house built on the sturdy foundation of His word would stand when (not if!) difficult times come. Running a business is not all sunshine and butterflies. In the real world, there will be hurdles in our way, tough days, times when we fail and times when we feel the rain beating down on us. BUT, our faith in His promise will remain. He had led us this far (with ZERO debt I might add!!) and we are fully trusting that He will continue to bless the work of our hands.
In more practical terms, we are now running a small business with eyes wide open. Gone is that blind optimism I had as a newbie that my “passion” alone would keep a company afloat. No matter how much you love what you do, if you don’t run a systematic, profitable business, you will inevitably have to close your doors. PASSION WON’T PAY YOUR BILLS- that foundation alone will not stand! 90% of our time is spent running the business while only 10% of our time is spent behind the camera. How we operate behind the scenes will make or break us- no matter how pretty our pictures are.
Over the past year, Andrew has been SO instrumental in streamlining our company’s processes. Before he joined me, I had a fantastically unorganized system of “sticky notes” as reminders, e-mail chains a mile long with clients and no real filing system for the hundreds of thousands of images we were managing. He is obsessed with systems and helped me to see there was truly a RIGHT way to run this company. We dove into a fantastic studio software program to manage our 600+ clients and developed workflows for every type of photography (bridal shoot, wedding shoot, engagement shoot, portrait shoot, boudoir shoot) with tasks assigned at each level. There is a date and a name assigned to every step in the process from charging batteries, packing lighting equipment, uploading RAW files, posting wedding galleries, ordering canvases, reminding clients about wardrobe consults, etc. etc. NO STICKY NOTES ALLOWED!! We can maintain deadlines and exceed client’s expectations when we are organized at every level.
Our foundation now is so much stronger. We feel it is so strong, we can build a much bigger and better house than ever before. I see hundreds of talented photographers drowning in debt and despair from trying to run their own small businesses. They don’t have a partner to help them and truthfully, aren’t that excited about running a business at all. They just want to follow their passion and take gorgeous images. We hope to open our doors to them. We will manage the “foundation” of client relations, post-production, sales, delivery and accounting and hire them to do what they do best- take pictures!! One extremely talented newborn photographer told me how overworked she felt. She would love nothing more than to photograph 2-3 newborns/week and be a stay-at-home Mom the rest of the week. Leaving the “business” of photography behind means freedom for her and it allows us to expand into a new market. Up to now, photographers in our area basically had 2 job options:
1. Stand behind a pre-set camera with boring studio lighting and work for a “high volume/low quality” generic studio for about $10/hour OR
2. Become a full-time entrepreneur pursuing photography and managing every aspect that goes with it (marketing, advertising, accounting/taxes, bookkeeping, file management, education, website/blog/Facebook management, editing/post-production, sales, delivery, client relations, etc. etc.) and the exhaustion that comes with flying solo.
What if there was an option 3?
3. Identify your favorite style of photography (family, pets, boudoir, weddings, seniors, newborns), attend educational seminars focusing on your area of expertise, shoot the number of sessions you want in creative locations and make a fair wage.
We are laying a foundation and asking God to bless it. We feel the concrete has been poured so stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about the NEW STRUCTURE!
HOORAY!!! If you’ve made it this far, you must like what you seePlease leave us a comment below so we know you are out there!! It can be lonely in cyber space