Working on the business, not in the business is a term you may have heard before. But how do you put this into practice? Being the custodian of your business, there is a massive subconscious tendency to work every hour in the day. To ensure you are doing everything you can to make it a success. For some, there is no getting around this and those hours will be put in. The smarter way to go, with the greatest respect, is to work smarter and more efficiently. Effective work only happens when there is focus and intensity on the task at hand.

Strategic work on the direction of the business is essential for business growth and development

There is also the awareness of what is working on the business, not in the business? Strategic work on the direction of the business is essential for business growth and development. Making the business more efficient and profitable. Discovering new areas to work in. Creating and analysing marketing plans and strategy. All these elements need careful thought. Maybe some outside input and time away from the nitty-gritty. But how do you find time in your hectic, busy schedule?

It does not have to be an absence from the everyday running either. It can be as simple as planning your day out whereby you have time to yourself and to your thoughts, in a calm or inspiring environment which does not involve dealing with customers or surrounded by the things that are routinely requiring attention.

  • Schedule in time. This could be first thing in the morning when you might have been mulling through things in your head overnight, or after some exercise in the afternoon or evening. Find a time that revolves around you having got some headspace and time to think, you might be a morning person when you are most creative. During this period, turn off your phone, switch off your email, to avoid any niggly distractions.
  • Change the environment. Maybe heading somewhere completely different for a day, bouncing ideas off friends or acquaintances who have the characteristics or professional knowledge to help you explore the right areas of your business to find solutions. It’s likely others in different professions are facing the same business challenges as you as a photographer.
  • Find the focus. It would be easy to take the time out and then procrastinate because you are suddenly presented with a clear space and no-one or nothing needing your attention. If you are able, maximise this time to your best ability: identify three or four areas that need attention and drill down on setting realistic goals for each of them, with actionable points within a set time. For example, you may need to redesign your website. Set time aside to plan what this may look like, then give yourself a deadline on getting it done by. You’d be surprised how effective you can be if you set time aside to do this and have that deadline to hit.
  • Enforce but remain flexible. Making time to revisit the results of these sessions. Assessing them and reaching the goals you set out (10 new customers, 2 new product lines, 1 solid partnership) within an allotted time frame is key. Being flexible and realistic to those goals is also an important aspect. Things change and situations force goals to become unachievable.

Within this whole process are the long term and short term rhythms of product and business life cycles. Not to mention inevitable personal situations which will impact your ability to deliver on occasion. This comes back to being flexible and realistic. What is humanly achievable? Particularly as a one-man band in most cases. In general, by focusing on the business and on the quality of your work as the priority, the rest will follow with the right focus and planning.

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