Since Apple has more cash on hand than most countries, I figure they might not be a bad company to use as a model. While this is very simplified, it shows you the path that you might want to consider if you want the kind of success Mr. Jobs enjoyed at Apple. I’ve distilled the following ideas from a series of articles I read about Mr. Jobs and then converted them to something that should be relevant to most professional photographers.
1. Try to look at your business as a way to solve other people’s problems not just a place that sells 8×10″ prints. What product or service can you offer that will introduce a positive change in your client’s lives? THAT is what you should be selling.
2. Make sure that you are absolutely passionate about photography. Get a different job if you don’t love what you are doing. Your clients can tell whether or not you’re sincerely passionate about what you do and they’ll respond positively.
3. Be really good at “seeing.” Not just photographically – although that matters a great deal – but also be good at seeing opportunity. How many times have you seen a group of photographers gather at the same beautiful lake or sunset or mountain and come away with different photos? The same thing happens in business. Your photography business could be located right next door to your competitor’s business but if you “see” better, both photographically and business-wise, you’ll win.
4. Learn how completely unrelated businesses do some of the same tasks you do as a professional photographer and then see if you can apply that in your business. Don’t limit yourself to doing what all the other studios in town do. Go WAY outside the norm to see where the best ideas are and then creatively mix and match.
5. Sell your photographic services to people who share your beliefs, feelings and desires. Think of them as part of your team. They want to belong to something. Sell a vision of something much bigger than a portrait session. Sell something like protecting memories.
6. Don’t ever try to be second best. Get rid of every photo in your portfolio that isn’t simply spectacular. If that leaves you with five shots – so be it. Don’t spend any time working on anything that is mediocre. Say no more than you say yes.
7. Simplify. Everything. Simplify your photography, your workflow, your product offerings. Pick something you love, be good at it, sell that thing, reduce the noise.
8. Always under-promise and over-deliver. Create experiences – don’t just sell stuff. Protect, share and keep memories, don’t just take pictures.
9. Let the product tell a story. Don’t spend too much time being the focus of your photo business. Let the work speak for itself and make sure it says something – otherwise, there will be nobody talking.
10. Go big or stay home. Be proficient. Shoot for the stars. See yourself – not based on what you think you can do, but on what you wish you could do.
This is just a smattering of ideas. They apply to photography and all other areas of life. They apply to professionals and amateurs – to hobbyists and prosumers. Think about this stuff and see if there isn’t at least one thing you can apply today that will improve your work, your business or your life.