My head is spinning from our recent trip to Imaging USA, PPA's annual convention and expo. Truth be told, I nearly faked the flu to get out of going. I really just wanted to curl up in my bed in the dark and wallow shamefully in self-doubt and negativity. (I considered this for a few hours on the Friday before the convention.) Luckily, when my business partner Trish Gilmore got to work, she was so excited about the trip that I decided a fake flu was not the best course of action.
What Really Ailed Me
Seriously, though, my ailments were real...and all completely related to the current state of our bank account. If describing them to a doctor, I would list my symptoms as:
- A constant panicky feeling brought on by my lack of faith in our new pricing structure and reinforced by the absence of any recent qualified wedding inquiries, let alone bookings.
- A nauseous feeling attributed to the mounting costs of a rebranding endeavor that is not causing clients to beat down our door...yet (see above).
Lately though, I feel depleted. Negativity has crept into the corners of my thoughts and no matter how much I ask it to leave, it just won't. I'm tired of trying so hard. I'm tired of waiting for the turn of fortune. I'm tired of being unfailingly perky.
What Got Me to Imaging USA
Despite my funk, I dug deep into what was left of my optimistic reserves and got my butt on a plane to Atlanta. In addition to Trish's enthusiasm for the trip, I was spurred on by my excitement to meet our PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) consultant Bridget Jackson and our SMS mentor Mary Fisk-Taylor.
We joined SMS a few years ago, and since then Bridget has been a cheerleader, a voice of reason, an invaluable consultant and a trusted advisor. She's proud of how far we've come and asked us to speak at the SMS booth at the Imaging EXPO. Letting Bridget down after all she's done for us was not an option. Likewise, Mary has given us marketing gems and advice that have opened up a whole new way of thinking about our business. Let Mary down? I'd sooner walk into my high school class reunion naked. It was decided.
So we went.
I know full well that it is cliché to say this, but that Imaging USA trip was truly a life-changing experience. I felt as if the entire convention was designed around answering our questions. I felt as if Sarah Petty, Anna Kuperberg, Greg Gorman and Ann Monteith were speaking directly to us. All of our questions were answered, all of our doubts assuaged, and the embers of excitement and inspiration for our business were stoked to a toasty glow. Bye-bye silver-lining-less clouds!
At Imaging USA, Trish and I talked at dinner, late into the night in our hotel room and on the plane ride home. We formulated a clear, concise vision for SNAP! Photography and a plan to put our ideas into action. And then we got home.
What Happens Next
So what happens now? On Jan. 25, the phone was still not ringing. The bills were still in a pile on my desk. How do we keep the glow?
Here's the answer: Now we do EXACTLY what Sarah, Anna, Greg and all the other experts we listened to told us to do! We do it for one entire year--uncompromisingly, unfailingly. And I see myself getting on a plane next year (destination: Imaging USA 2014 in Phoenix) the opposite of reluctance; eager to tell anyone who will listen how your fortune can turn if only you'll take the steps.
To keep herself honest and her goals in view, Mariah plans to journal all of the trials and tribulations she and her business partner encounter along the way. You can follow along with her here on the PPA blog!