3 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make, and the Solutions

Running a small photography business is tough and you're bound to make mistakes. But here are three you can avoid, thanks to insight from Ryan Estis, who has 20 years' of sales and leadership experience and will deliver the keynote at Imaging USA 2018:

© Ryan Estis

Mistake No. 1: Letting success breed complacency. “I see this often and I am a victim of it myself with my own business. Things will be good, we have a level of success, and we plateau,” he says. But what was good enough to get you to one level of success isn’t good enough to propel you to the next level. “I see people who have achieved some level of success and then they relax and they don’t do the very thing that got them there in the first place.”

Antidote: Stay in the learning lane. Estis recommends setting aside five hours a week for personal and professional development. This gives you time to step back, analyze the direction of your business, and identify places you can make tweaks and improvements. He also recommends hiring a professional coach—someone who knows your niche, can offer solid recommendations, and will hold you accountable for making improvements.

Mistake No. 2: Not sharing your work the right way. You may have a very specialized talent but haven’t found the best way to connect with potential clients who would benefit from your unique offerings.

Antidote: It’s one thing to throw a few images onto your Facebook page; it’s another to foster a community around what you’re doing. “Content marketing is such a huge opportunity,” he says, which is why Estis recommends blogging regularly to raise your online profile and connect with like-minded potential clients.

Mistake No. 3: Not delivering world-class customer service, which is exactly what today’s customers expect. “Customers have higher expectations today than ever, and as an artist and creator, you have to look at ways to both differentiate and elevate your customer service,” he says. The basic minimum of delivering proofs and an album on time simply doesn’t cut it in the new experience economy.

Antidote: Create a customer experience that is unique and goes beyond customers’ high expectations. Then brand it. Your brand is no longer just the images you create; it’s the experience the customer has as those images are made. Perfect every touchpoint of the customer experience, from pre-consultation to six-month follow-up, to make sure every step of the process delivers an experience the customer can find nowhere else.  

Estis will deliver his keynote on the "new era of the customer" on January 14, 2018, at Imaging USA in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer.