Today I want to talk to you about photography business boundaries, and boundaries in general. In the 16+ years I have been running my photography business, the thing that has wreaked to most havoc for me and my company, has been difficulties with boundaries. And, I believe, that if you have problems setting and keeping strong boundaries in your business and in your life, then getting your boundaries established and strong will be the single best way to improve your photography business.
Why do I say that? Because boundaries effect everything. Boundaries are the limits you set on outside influences. Boundaries are your first line of defense against invaders, and boundaries are your protection from harm. As creatives, we photographers tend to have more permeable boundaries than other people. And this can really get us into trouble. Here are some examples.
Pricing – pricing is the boundary you set on what your photography business’s products and services cost. Do you ever find yourself discounting your pricing when someone tells you that they cannot afford you? Do you set your pricing so low that you can’t earn a decent living? Do you fail to stand behind your pricing as being fair and appropriate for the service that you provide? Then you have a pricing boundary problem in your photography business.
Hiring, Training and Managing – your employee policies are your boundary for human resources in your photography business. Do you ever find it difficult to confront an employee that is taking advantage of you and your generosity? Do you have a hard time firing employees that are not doing their job? Do you avoid discussing issues like tardiness, absenteeism and insubordination, hoping it will just go away, or take care of itself? If so, then you have an human resources boundary problem.
Accounting – your accounting practices are the boundaries you set on where the income is coming from and where the money is spent in your photography business. Do you jump every time you see a cute new little prop pop up in your inbox? Do you set income and expense goals for your business, but always find yourself breaking your own rules. Does your expense column outweigh your income column? Then you have a boundary problem with accounting in your photography business.
Marketing – your marketing plan is the system you put in place to keep your income high enough to stay in business. Marketing effectively and consistently, with discipline, is quite possibly the MOST important boundary you need working well in your photography business. Do you plan to make a certain number of calls or visit a certain number of potential clients each week, and then chicken out? Do you find every possible excuse for why you are unable to create enough time to follow through with your marketing plan? Do you bury yourself in “research” or “education” to avoid marketing? If you do any of these things… and I’m sure you can think of plenty other examples, then you have a really big boundary problem in your photography business. And this boundary problem is YOU. You are unable to set limits on yourself, and follow through on your promises to yourself. And this, my friend, will destroy your photography business.
Time Management – how you manage the time you spend in your business and the number of hours you work are the boundaries you set on time management in your photography business. Do you find yourself working so many hours that your kids have given up trying to even get your attention? Is your workflow disorganized or not followed? Do you convince yourself that spending hours each day on Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram etc. is the best use of your marketing time? Do you try to do everything in your business yourself, never delegating or outsourcing, and continually running yourself ragged? If you have any of these problems, you have time management boundary issues in your photography business.
There are many other places that you need boundaries in your photography business, but these are some of the biggies. I have had problems in all of these areas in my business at one time or another. Photography business boundaries, or my lack of thereof, has caused a lot of damage. And, I don’t want these challenges to cause damage to your photography business.
So, what can you do? Well, the truth is, boundary issues are not quickly or easily dealt with. If you have boundary problems, they are, to some extent, part of your personality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements that will have a big impact. If any of the examples above ring true for you, you would be well served to find, and read a good book on boundaries. One of the best out there is “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud.
But, if practically everything above rings true for you, then you are probably experiencing significant difficulties in operating your photography business. And, you need to get help right away! One, two or three of these can cripple your business, but if you are having a hard time with all of them (to some degree) it will literally suck the LIFE out of you and your company.
If you are in this place, you are probably feeling overwhelmed, and maybe even hopeless. But there is hope.
I am offering a FREE 30 minute photography business coaching session to anyone who needs help right now with boundary issues. I am in the process of writing a book for photographers to specifically tackle these issues, both in their photography business, and in their life. If you would like to receive your FREE 30 minute coaching session, and/or are interested in participating in research for the book, please call me @ 512-997-7429 to schedule your appointment. All participants will remain anonymous.