Friday, October 24, 2008
How to Develop A Photography Business (1)
Break The "Glass Ceiling"**
I'm currently embarking on a campaign to further promote myself as a photographer and to develop a number of important income streams for my business. I invite you to come along on the ride, as I approach each avenue on the journey and meet the obstacles that may appear.
After a hugely enlightening discussion, about where I wanted to be in 10 years time, with a good friend of mine who spent 25 years in the commercial banking sector - and who took 10 minutes to draw up a comprehensive business plan - I realized that I might be setting my sights way too low.
So, before addressing the specific areas that I want to develop in my photography business, I decided that it would be best to have a good look at why I was saying (for example) that I wanted to earn €20 000 a year from developing and teaching photography workshops - and not €200 000 p.a. The figures are irrelevant, really, but my friend did point out that I was possibly devaluing myself by 10 times as much as I should.
Why wasn't it possible, he asked me, not to make €200 000 a year from teaching? After all, I have a Masters degree in education, I have been teaching adults up to degree level and beyond for 20 years (usually for a third-party employer on a fixed wage), I know the subject (photography) backwards and there is an eager and willing audience out there waiting to to be taught. That last point was brought home in spades, less than an hour after leaving his house - when I visited a local community centre to discuss the possibilty of running a 6 week beginners photography workshop there - if they agreed it would be my second course running in that area I had set up this month.
They not only agreed, but told me that since the meeting had been arranged, members of the committee and other locals had put themselves on a waiting list for the course, and I would probably need to diary-in a second day each week, to accommodate everyone.
The point I'm making is that, sometimes, when it comes to business we can be our won worst enemies. We can set ourselves unreasonably low goals, and then try to meet them, and probably fail because we don't believe that even those meager targets are attainable. So wouldn't it be better to set higher targets, and if we miss those, we might still hit something higher than the ridiculously low ones we first shot at?
**The term "glass ceiling" refers to an organizational barrier that prevents certain members of that organization from advancing as far up the corporate ladder as they might if their success was determined solely by their abilities. Originally, it was coined to refer to discrimination against women in certain organizations, and has recently been extended to include the limited advancement prospects of the disabled, deaf, blind and cultural and sexual minorities.
But I think that there is a potential for the individual to carry around his or her internal glass ceiling. It shows itself (is reflected, I suppose) in thoughts like "who would want me to do that?", "I don't feel good enough", "I doubt anyone would take me seriously" and so on.
So, my first job, before I can put a zero onto any of my financial expectations is to get a big mental hammer and smash that damn ceiling into tiny pieces.
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