December 30, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

I've never been one to do something just because everyone else is, but I make an exception for New Year's Resolutions. I love the chance to look back over the past year and evaluate what's worked versus where I need to improve. As my first year in business, this is an especially useful practice because I was testing out a lot of ideas. I now have months of first hand experience to gauge what I want to maintain as offerings and processes. For example, photography is still my guiding passion, so I want to make sure I get in more photoshoots in 2018. I am also driven by the chance to help more artists, so I've come up with a list of ways in which I can continue to build my business in support of what I love. Some of these may resonate with you or even inspire you to add to your own resolutions. Undoubtedly there are things I missed, do if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

1. Streamline my Business Budgeting
While I've had projections in mind for my first year of business, it wasn't until I got to work that I started to see the true expenses and earning potential. Now with a year's worth of transactions to consult, I can put together a more formal plan for my 2018 spending. It shouldn't surprise me that most of my budget went to equipment and marketing. As I continue to build Crafting Exposure, this will likely continue, but now I can map out realistic goals and push myself to earn what my business needs for growth.

2. Find Studio or Office Space
I've spent this first year working from home, and while that's a luxury in many ways, I'm starting to yearn a space of my own dedicated solely to Crafting Exposure. I don't know yet whether or not I will find a reasonable option, but it would be great to have my own location available for shoots and meetings. I still plan on traveling to artists' studios when it's more convenient for clients, but I am looking forward to the efficiencies and productivity inherent in having an office space.

3. Set a More Concrete Work Schedule
One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility to work when you want, but as many of you have probably noticed, that often means working all of the time. When you love what you do, that's not always a bad thing, but we all can benefit from boundaries. I plan to take what I've learned about my business in the last year and use that to set a schedule based on the tasks I now know are needed to keep things running. I get a lot done jumping around from task to task as it comes up, but the slightly OCD side of me would prefer to have a better system for handling the operational side of Crafting Exposure when I'm not tackling client projects.

4. Start Goaling Photoshoots Per Week
I'll admit, sales goals are not my favorite thing, but now that I've tested the market to see how much demand there is for my services, I feel better equipped to set benchmarks. I would spend all day photographing if I could, but I also need to account for the processing time and other business upkeep. With that in mind, I can push my lead generation and networking to match the time I want to spend taking pictures.

5. Lead More Workshops in 2018
November was an awesome month for me in terms of leading seminars. I had been stewing on the concept for a while and finally managed to coordinate a couple test runs. I was really pleased with how they went and the response from my audiences. I look forward to many more. Stay tuned for a survey on desired topics so I can start working on my plan for 2018.

6. Connect with New Art Groups
One of the secrets to my success is showing up. Sounds simple, and it is in many regards, but I've also benefited from showing up in the right place at the right time and connecting with the right people. Thanks to Annie's Artist Lookbook, I go to a lot of art shows in Austin, and I love meeting many talented creatives who just happen to need support in the areas I specialize. I want to build on these efforts to find more art groups that I can learn from and tailor my offerings to for their success.

7. Develop Lists of Trusted Partners for Referrals
Going into business, I already knew that I couldn't do everything for everyone (and I wasn't going to try), but I was eager to gather insights on the needs of the artists I work with. Now that I know more concretely the scope of marketing support that my clients ask for, I want to put together a list of partner businesses and freelancers that I can recommend for projects beyond my skill set. Web Development, Graphic Design, Bookkeeping, these are all things that a specialist can handle better, and I am eager to find good people to send my clients to and collaborate with.

8. Make Time for One Personal Photo Project per Month
Last, but not least, I want to be sure I'm giving myself a little time to work on my art. Every photo project that comes up for a client brings new challenges and the chance to hone my skills. With that said, I have a list of ideas that have inspired me and would stretch my photography muscles, so I am going to challenge myself to execute on these, at least one per month. If I'm lucky, I will not only produce artwork that makes me happy, but also test out new techniques to better photograph client work.

Ok, that may be a really ambitious list of resolutions, but that comes with the territory as an entrepreneur and a creative. How many of these points are also on your mind? What other ideas do you have for your business? I'd love to hear them!