Benefits / Resources / Articles
May 14, 2020

Preparing for Success in a COVID-19 World: Tips from PPA CEO David Trust

Most of us have been quarantined at home for quite a few weeks now, and when we do go out, practicing social distancing to protect ourselves and others is a priority. As areas of the county begin opening back up, you might have questions like, “Where do I go from here? What are my next steps? How do I get motivated and stay in the game?”. We asked our CEO, David Trust to give our members, followers, and the greater photography community some advice on these topics during the latest edition of our #InItTogether Facebook Live series. 


“Through adversity—through opposition, difficulty, and crisis, comes great opportunity to move forward.” - David Trust

Photographers, David says, should be doing many of the same things that businesses in other industries are doing right now to continue to build their brands. During times of crisis there are people who fall apart and do nothing while there are others who really step up, take on leadership roles, move to the front, and establish themselves as people you want to be around and that you can trust. If you are looking to be one of those people who steps up in a time of crisis, this is not a time to shutter your doors and go binge watch TV shows! Things may not be “business as usual” but you have been given a unique opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture when it comes to your business.


Work on updating and streamlining your business habits and processes, and find areas where you can improve. Consider incorporating new practices into your schedule; investing more time into your business will help you be even more successful as an entrepreneur. Don’t forget to reach out to your customers—just to check in on them, not to make sales. These types of communication build and strengthen your brand and lead to authentic client relationships. “I would actually argue that we don’t have downtime,” David says. “The task list is just different than it was before.” You are still a business owner. In fact, for many, this list of “things to do” has only grown since quarantine began.

What are some of the practices and behaviors that you can incorporate into your routine to set your business up for continued success? 

Keep Office Hours.

Even if they’re different from what they used to be, regular work hours help you stay productive and focused, while also helping you to keep work and personal time seperate. You may not be in an office, in a studio, or meeting with clients, but now is the last time to ghost on your business! Make a list of things you plan to accomplish each day during these office hours. Consider dividing tasks into short-term and long-term goals, so you can knock out the small things and chip away at the big ones. 


Read Daily.

Time to put down the TV remote and dust off the books. Rather than reading for pleasure (which should also be done, just during non-work hours!) focus on reading things that will help you better understand your market and consumers and how to be more productive as an entrepreneur.

PPA’s educational resources—a members-only feature now available to the public through the end of May 2020—are a great way to continue your lifelong learning. PPA’s education platform contains content on an array of business subjects, all presented by some of the industry’s most experienced professionals. David reminds us to avoid seeing any single author as a “guru.” In reality, every book—and thus every author—has flaws. It’s up to the reader to see each book as an opportunity to find gold nuggets of wisdom that can help them advance their individual career. Angela Kurkian, PPA’s Director of Education, asked David to choose a few books from his personal bookshelf to share with you for this video.

  • GRIT by Angela Duckworth: Successful people exercise and demonstrate true grit, but what is grit? According to Duckworth, it is the ability to persevere, not get so flustered that you stop in your tracks, and push through when things get tough. 
  • Just Enough Anxiety by Robert Rosen: The anxiety, pressure, and stress we feel in our job is not only natural, but it can also be good for us. A certain amount of anxiety can actually help push us forward and keep us motivated, especially when it comes to doing the things for our business that we might not necessarily love doing! 
  • The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield: Focus is everything. It’s easy to end up with lots of great ideas and spread ourselves so thin that we end up not actually following through with anything. The result? Nothing gets done. It is crucial to prioritize your tasks, and do the most important or time-sensitive items first! 
  • True North by Bill George: This book encourages us to stay in the space that brings us the most happiness. When we get outside of our true north we tend to feel levels of anxiety that we can’t easily deal along with a lack of meaning, purpose, creativity, focus, drive, etc. For those of you who struggle to set boundaries and say “no” to things, this is a great book to help you find and keep your focus and intention where you want it and say no to things that are not going to serve you in the long run.
  • The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric: This book gathers extraordinary and successful people from various industries  to share the best advice they ever received. From politicians to business leaders, these remarkable professionals were asked to share the best bit of advice they were ever given whether it be from their parents, friends, professors, coaches, or other key figures in their lives. 
  • Brand Relevance by David Aker: Do you truly understand what branding is? Do people need you? Is your brand/business relevant? Do you stand out? According to David, NOW is the time to be working on your brand!
  • Groundswell by Li & Burnoff: What are your customers saying about you? Are they ambassadors for your brand? Are they talking about the experience or are they just talking about the price? It is crucial to understand how your clients perceive their experience with your brand and how they share that experience with others. 

Build Positive & Meaningful Relationships.

Building positive and meaningful relationships is critical to the success of your brand. Brand is not what you look like or even what you produce. Brand is how people feel about your business. It’s not logical; instead, it’s all about emotion and feelings. The strength of the relationships you build with your clients is one of things that a brand helps determine.

Now is the time to pick up the phone and call your clients, check in on them, ask how they are doing. Show that you genuinely care. This is not the time to talk about sales, products, or future sessions. It’s time to focus on building authentic connections with your clients. With so many people stuck at home and unable to spend time with friends and family, there is a desire, now more than ever, for human interaction. Remember, a short phone call costs you nothing, but to your client, it can be an unexpected and endearing gesture.! Consider setting a goal each day of calling a  certain number clients just to check in on them, while still being respectful of their time


Get enough sleep.

This may be even more challenging with the change of routine and rhythm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but getting enough sleep should still be a priority. Setting regular work hours can actually help along with creating an evening routine that signals to your body it’s time for bed. Check out these tips from the National Sleep Foundation and the American Heart Association on ways to create an evening routine that will promote better sleep! 

Avoid Wasting Time.

Time is precious. The ability to prioritize and work efficiently is crucial to success. Successful people spend their time on the things that are truly important. Don’t let smaller tasks eat away at your time. For instance,  a successful person doesn’t let meetings and phone calls that could be done in 30 minutes run to 45. They don’t spend time on things that are not going to get them to their end goal.


Begin with the end in mind.

Having an actionable vision for your brand and business creates a strong foundation and sets you up for success. This means you need to know your own, individual definition of success and understand what you really want to accomplish. The definition of success is different for everybody, which means it’s something you have to discover for yourself and your business. Once you know your definition of success, you can determine what you want to accomplish, in turn allowing you to prioritize, see the big picture, and put the most important things first! 


Final thoughts.

Throughout history, there have been numerous economic downturns, disasters, and crises. The one constant? We always come back from these tragedies. Some businesses even end up more successful than before. The entrepreneurs who keep doing what they need to do to grow their brand and clientele are the ones who emerge from disasters stronger than before. .You alone have the power to make your business stronger! 

If you found this advice to be helpful and inspiring, be sure to watch the full video with PPA’s CEO, David Trust and Director of Education, Angela Kurkian today!


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