CLARITY & FOCUS
I believe that clarity and focus are the two most important qualities to have as an entrepreneur; without them, you will flounder.
A CLEAR GOAL WILL DECLUTTER YOUR MIND
Let’s face it, as creatives we have a bazillion ideas running through our brains at any given moment. While this is an excellent way to keep our work flowing through us, and out of us, it can be really distracting.
One thing I’ve learned from studying how to shift my mindset, is to write down your goals and look at them daily. I have mine written on a piece of paper laying right next to my computer, and I look at them right away each morning.
My morning routine: feed the dogs and let them out, brush my teeth, fill my mug with fresh brewed coffee, and head upstairs to my desk.
I read through my list of goals before I start anything each day. I then journal around my goals—this gets my energy up and my mind clear on why I’m doing what I’m doing. This practice allows me to focus on the next steps I need to take to get to where I want to be.
My goals are top of mind ALL THE TIME.
And because they’re top of mind, I don’t get easily distracted when new ideas pop into my head. I simply write them down in a notebook to use at a later date, staying focused on where I am right now.
SAY NO TO ANYTHING THAT ISN’T ALIGNED WITH YOUR GOALS
I know, I know…last week I told you to say YES to random things that come your way, and this week I’m telling you to say no. I’m not trying to confuse you, I promise!
Simply say yes to things that will move your business forward, and say no to things that won’t.
If you have your goals written down and top of mind all the time, it’ll be easy to determine whether or not to do something. Simply ask yourself the question, “Will this move my business forward?” If the answer is yes, then do it. If the answer is no, then don’t do it.
For example, if you own a dog walking business and someone asks you to speak at an event that’s filled with people who are dog owners, chances are you may get some business out of that speaking engagement. So the answer to the question, “Will this move my business forward?” would be a resounding YES!
In my own business I say no to shooting events. When I first started my business I shot everything to figure out what I liked, and what I didn’t like. I knew right away that I didn’t like shooting events. However, even though I dreaded the thought of shooting events for days ahead of time, hated it the whole time I was at the event, and felt completely depleted afterward, I kept shooting them for the first couple years during my business startup—even though they weren’t moving my business forward.
I felt like I should take the gig because I had the day open and should be making money. I also felt like if I said no, the work would stop coming in. How crazy is that? But when I did start saying no, I began leaving myself open to attracting the clients and the work I really wanted. I also had more energy to be creative.
I learned that when you say no to things you don’t really want to do, your yes means so much more. You have more energy to give to the things you really love doing.
KEEP YOUR BLINDERS ON
I learned this one the hard way. Actually, I learn everything the hard way.
Unless you feel very certain that your friends and family understand your dreams, your vision, and your plans for the future, keep it to yourself.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Sometimes it feels like we’re on an island all by ourselves; especially for those of us who work from home. Sometimes we want to bounce ideas off others, and most of the time that happens to be our friends and family members.
People have the best intentions. Friends and family love to help, however, they can sometimes make negative comments—out of fear and they usually don’t see your vision the same way you do—allowing doubt to creep in slowing you down temporarily, or possibly leading you to give up all together. Be careful when asking for their advice.
This is when it is VITAL to have your GOALS TOP OF MIND.
When you’re confident in your goals and vision, it’s much easier to filter advice. And it’s much easier to filter through information as you’re researching, learning, and growing. Take what is relevant, and leave behind what is not.
I’ll use my portrait photography business as an example here. I take photos of people. I do that because I love taking photos of people. I love giving people the opportunity to feel seen and heard. I love listening to their stories. I love giving them beautiful portraits of themselves that their family will treasure for a lifetime.
During a mastermind meeting several months ago with a small group female entrepreneurs, we were discussing different ways to get our name out; to be seen. One of the women in the group suggested that I teach iPhone food photography.
What? How will that get me more portrait clients?
I have never taken a photo of my food, and I most likely never will. Nothing against those of you who do, I just don’t enjoy it. Even while traveling I don’t take photos of food. I remember a place through the people I meet, not by the food I eat. Even if the food is absolutely delicious like in Tanzania, I will still tell stories of the people I met along the way. I only talk about the food if someone happens to ask.
So back to the suggestion of teaching food photography. It TOTALLY doesn’t fit me or my business model. If I hadn’t had clear goals with focus on the outcome, I may have wasted my time teaching a class or two just to see what would happen.
The other thing I hear A LOT is ‘Why don’t you try this? So and so is doing that and their making a ton of money, what aren’t you doing that?”
These comments can get to us at times. They get to us because we see other photographers making money from doing this or that. And as entrepreneurs we know that we should have more than one revenue stream, so we try to do too many things at the same time, not giving enough focused time and energy to any one thing, only to move forward slower than we could have had we just stuck to the one for a while.
Yes, another lesson learned the hard way. I started teaching photography workshops one year after starting my business. I didn’t realize that it was going to take the same amount of time and effort to get workshop clients, as it was to get portrait clients. I was working 24/7 and not moving forward along wither path as fast as I should have been.
Make sure everything you do is alignment with your true calling. Get one thing going really well, then add another thing, and then add another thing.
There are a million and one different ways you can earn a living in the photography industry (in any creative industry). There are landscape photographers, architecture photographers, fine art photographers, food photographers, and the list goes on.
Some of these photographers travel to art fairs around the country every weekend to sell their work. Some sell their work to select clients. Some sell a service. Some work as educators. We are all different.
Know what you want out of life and business. Know what makes you happy. Listen to the whisper. Follow your calling. Clearly write down your goals. Stay focused on those goals. Take one step at a time. The rest comes easy.