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Please don’t take what I am about to say the wrong way but I am speaking from over 35 years of mostly successful business experience in various types of businesses. It’s very easy to say “Hey I am in business” or Hey I own a business and every is hurting my success” or “WOW the recession has just killed my business” or the best yet “The advent of the HD-DSLR is killing my business”. Well some of this may or may not be true but I can bet that in most cases the ones using those excuses don’t have business plans, don’t have a marketing plan, nor do they have a business growth strategy. Posting on Craig’s list for business in my humble opinion is lame. When was the last letter you sent out and then followed up on it? Business is all about relationships not selling. The most important thing you can do is build relationships and connections. If you do not have relationships and or connections how do you expect to sell your product regardless of what your product might be.
Honestly, it not the DSLR that is killing promising up and coming businesses rather it’s the notion that all I have to do is post on a few free websites, Craig’s list and wait for business to pour in. After reading your post I have to ask – the work you did for a National account – how often do you follow up with them? When was the last time you talked about how you can help them with their next project. Do you even know what there next project is?
Again please don’t take any of this the wrong way but its reality. Being in business is hard work, every day day in and day out. For me most months break down like this about 20% – 30% is actual photo or video work the rest is what I do to make the relationships and connections to get the work. If people like the work you do and like you, it doesn’t matter what camera you have and many times the price is just nit. There are some very good, quick read books, by Jeff Gitomer that outlines sales strategies that could be very helpful.
As for your business drying up after a year – well that to me is easy. First, most businesses that fail do so during their 1-5 years. They start out with great beginner’s luck and do very little to drive new opportunities to create money in the bank. At some point along the way the beginner’s luck dries up and there is nothing in the pipeline to drive the cash flow and business and cash flow takes a nose dive. Second, what are you doing today to drive your business tomorrow, next week, next month, in six months, and next year? Do you have a marketing budget or even a marketing plan? If you do not have a planned strategy on how you are going to drive your business, once the business you have gotten from family and friends dries up so will your business. Do you have list of potential businesses and or contacts that you market it to regularly? What local organizations are you a member of? Do you network with others in business? Business opportunities need to know you exist. By listing on Craig’s list, sure you will get some work, but you are not going to get the big dollar corporate accounts that pay your bills for months – if you think so you are only kidding yourself. Third, being in business is hard work. It’s not like the infomercials, magazines or Amway portrays it to be. You have to work hard to be in business – especially in the photography and video business. Lastly, just as many have posted – you either need to have another job or some source of funding until you get up and really running with leads in a pipeline, cash in the bank and a shoot schedule full requiring you to hire help.
Please don’t take any of the above the wrong way. It’s reality and its time for a reality check. Feel free to drop me a note with any of your business questions. Like I said – I have over 35 years of very successful business experience in various type of businesses. You win some and you fail at some but in the end you have to be having fun loving what you do and doing what you love.