support system

How to plan for business success

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What do you need to plan for business success? Is it with a notebook and pen? An online course? A business coach? Recently, while getting ready for one of my workshops, I started thinking about everything needed to plan for business success. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Know where you want to go

    Without a bit of a roadmap it can be easy to get distracted, start a million different things, and consequently not follow through and finish any of them. Instead, you will feel frustrated that things aren't moving forward. A plan really helps, and trust me, as a person who isn't big on planning, it took me a lot to come around to that.

  2. Stop thinking you need to know it all

    You want to have a plan, but you don't have to plan everything forever. You can start with the next month if that's easiest! You can plan to keep things flexible enough to keep them interesting. You can make money without doing ALL THE THINGS you've heard will make more money. This is especially important for you over-planners out there. Some people keep jumping in with no idea what they're doing and others never jump in because they still aren't "ready." You don't need to have everything figured out to start moving forward.

  3. Know how much money you want to make

    You may not be able to make it from the start but you need to know what kind of money is going to make sure you feel good about running this business. And also understand that running a business means YOU have to save for taxes and you have expenses that people who work for others don't. If you want to make $5000 you need to earn more than $5000 so make sure you know your numbers.

    Knowing these numbers will help you figure out what you're going to sell and how you're going to sell it too. They all tie together!

  4. Do more of the things that feel good and that work well

    So many of us fight the stuff that's easy. So many of us feel guilty making money doing things that we enjoy, because "work is supposed to be hard." That is not true and I'll keep reminding you of that until I'm blue in the face.

    You're going to do the stuff you love with more heart. You're not going to procrastinate as much if you're selling things you love to do instead of things you know you can do but really wish you didn't have to do. Look for the things that light you up and look for the things that flow to you with ease and do more of those.

Take some time and think about how all of these play into your business. If you want ideas on how I can support you with any of them, let’s chat! I have a bunch of things coming up this summer that might be JUST the right fit.

Case Study : Sara McConnell Photography

I’ve known Sara since before she started her photography business and watched as she fell naturally into the world of social media.  Since starting her business she has done amazing things to grow her business using social media… particularly with the use of her blog, Twitter and Facebook. And on a personal note, Sara is the one who took the stellar headshots of me features on this blog :)

About Sara’s business:

Sara McConnell Photography provides on-location and studio portrait sessions in Ottawa, Ontario, combining traditional portraiture with candid photojournalism.  I specialize in breastfeeding, child, couple, family, maternity, portrait, and newborn photography.

How actively involved are you in social media to promote your business?

Since I went into business in November 2010 I have actively used different social media channels to promote my business.  When I first got involved in social media in the spring of 2010 it was with the intent of connecting with other parents and bloggers in the Ottawa community; at the time, I wasn’t planning to go into business for myself.  When I launched my company last year I found an incredibly supportive network of people through Twitter and Facebook who were actively involved in sharing the news of my business venture.

On a daily basis I use my business blog, Facebook, and Twitter to interact with different communities of people around Ottawa.  On my blog I share images from sessions, promotions or contests, as well as posts (‘Around Town’) about places I’ve visited in Ottawa with my family.  Facebook has been a great way to quickly and easily share sneak peeks from recent sessions as well as solicit feedback from people about favourite places to take pictures, favourite props etc.  I also have a personal project, 365:Brothers, where I take a photo of my two boys together everyday for a year. I’ve been posting these images on Facebook and I love hearing from others about which of the photos are their favourites.

What has been the most successful tool in getting you more exposure or clients?

I’ve had equal success with my blog, Facebook, and Twitter when it comes to connecting with clients.  Clients will often forward the blog post link from the session sneak peak to friends and family and I often receive emails 24-48 hours after a post has gone live from individuals interested in booking sessions.  Clients whose images have been posted on Facebook often share the picture with others and enquiries about sessions often start with “A friend on Facebook…”.  What has surprised me the most is the number of people who have contacted me through Twitter about my services.  Over the course of the day I will tweet anywhere from 2-5 links or comments specific to my business but my account is mainly used for personal purposes and the majority of people who contact me have interacted with me related to some other topic (parenting, running etc) and not photography.

What would you tell other business owners about the value of using social media for their business?

Being an entrepreneur and working from home can be an isolating experience but thanks to the connections I’ve made through Twitter and Facebook I have a support system of other Ottawa-based entrepreneurs.  I have working relationships with several Ottawa businesses, which we cross promote using different social media channels, and I also have a support system that I can turn to when I’m faced with a challenge.

Sara has a contest (closes September 15) where you could win a Fall mini-session and also has a special promotion for her Fall mini-sessions.  If you’re looking for some great Fall/Holiday shots and you’re in the Ottawa area, I definitely recommend you check her out!

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