I lived in Seattle during the dotcom boom of the late 90s. I had just started dating my hubby and he worked for a dotcom. They handed out stock options like toilet paper, just like that Simpsons episode. I watched the company go from a handful of employees to almost a 1000 and then back to under 200 in a year. As the layoffs happened I used to ask every week, “what does your company do now?”. They changed their business model so constantly I could not keep up. I am not sure what they do today but they did survive.
I think adjusting and re-evaluating is a normal part of company growth. I left my corporate job just over a year ago now, and since have constantly had to scratch out and redevelop my business plan. How I got started is for another post. The purpose of this slightly off-topic blog post is to talk about some of my goals for my photography business over the next year. 2009 will be my first full year as a small business owner.
1. Blog. Blog. Blog.
I really want to develop a base of readers, who regularly comment on my blog. To do this I need to post on a regular basis, at least 3 times per week.
2. Organization and Time Management
It is so easy to just throw another receipt on my desk, or to spend 20 minutes chatting with an old friend on Facebook (which there is nothing wrong with but not when I have piles to do). Being aware of time is a major part of this goal. I have a wonderful family and while I love what I do for a living, I need to make the most out of my business hours so I can enjoy free time with them.
There is a trusty Excel spreadsheet that I have for my expenses. Before the end of this year, it will become a Quickbooks file, and in the meantime I need to be sure I spend time with it at least twice per week. I had been told by many but I am amazed how much time I spend running my business as opposed to be a photographer.
3. Becoming more visible to more clients
Search engine optimization is a basic need for all businesses. Unfortunately we all can not be ranked #1. I am still over 100 in google’s ranking when searching for “portland photographer” or “wedding photographer” or “maternity photographer”. I don’t know about you but I never make it past page 3 of the search results. My goal is to improve my seo so I at least appear in the first pages. I have learned a lot since I started but have not made time to implement all the ideas and optimize my site. I get pretty positive feedback on my work and my clients sound happy so it would be great if I could expose my business to more people without having to advertise too much.
I love learning to the extend of being a dork. When I used to have spare time (pre-baby and business) I would spend hours teaching myself html, php, or just researching something silly like types of cloth diapers. I will improve my Photoshop skills, stay on top of photography technology, and learn a thing or two more about marketing and business.
5. Client relationships
I can not stand poor customer service, and do not see the reason to deal with anyone that offers anything less than the best. I really want to pass along the best to my clients and potential clients. Our real estate agent, Dave, is my glowing example of someone who treats his clients amazingly and almost two years after buying our home has become a friend. I strive to pass this level of customer service along to everyone I interact with.
Why am I posting this? I had to ask myself this. I could just create a nice little document on my computer but instead I am putting my business goals out there for the world (okay, at least brides, grooms, moms, and pregnant moms-to-be, other clients, and colleagues that read my blog). For one, maybe it will help someone else. Secondly, maybe a little insight into who I am and where I am might let a potential client get a better feel for me. Most importantly, it’s sitting there in public, so I must stick with it!