It seems like we were just ringing in 2021, but now here we are: a new year with new opportunities for everything before us and new appreciation for everything behind us.
I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution person. After all, the advent of a new year isn’t the only reason to make changes and promises. Why not continuously evaluate yourself, your life, and your business and evolve as needed? If you want to lead a healthier lifestyle, start immediately. If you want to be more present in your relationships, why wait until January? If you’re consistently evaluating your business and need or want to make adjustments, why wait?
I’m a big believer in not just goal setting but in conducting routine self and business evaluations. Business goals for me come naturally and easily. I believe in myself as a business owner and I’m not afraid to make changes, raise my prices, or cut unprofitable product lines. I’m not as confident with personal goals, but that’s a topic for another day.
My business partner and I have always been focused on setting goals and then evaluating any we haven't met. Years ago, we’d wait until our slow season—the first quarter of the year—to sit down and look over the business, including pricing and product lines. But it occurred to me a couple of decades ago that by waiting until January or February for these evaluations we were leaving money on the table. If you see a red flag in your business practices you should make appropriate changes now, not months later. I know we’re all overwhelmed, spinning the many proverbial plates, but as entrepreneurs we have the authority and responsibility to make immediate changes that will benefit the health of our business.
Since we set a yearly financial goal, I need to track session numbers and averages each week and month and do a deep dive every quarter to make sure we’re on track. If we’re not, I want to fix the problem, not wait.Mary Fisk-Taylor
At our photography studio, we meet quarterly for goal setting and evaluation. I’d rather know in April that my first quarter was down or a project didn’t work than wait nine months to figure it out. Since we set a yearly financial goal, I need to track session numbers and averages each week and month and do a deep dive every quarter to make sure we’re on track. If we’re not, I want to fix the problem, not wait. It’s an antiquated concept to wait until after your fiscal year has been completed to evaluate your small business’s health. Think of your business like a hospital patient. You wouldn’t want a patient to go one more day hurting when you could start the healing immediately. Our quarterly goal setting and evaluations have been the best way to maintain a profitable and sustainable business over the long haul.
I establish what I want my average sale to be for each product line—for example, studio portrait sessions, location portrait sessions, and promotions—and how much money we want to make each year. Once I’ve set those base lines, I calculate how many of each type of session I need to photograph to meet my goals. I’ve always found this to be a structured, easy way to evaluate my business, better than putting a big financial goal on my vision board and then crossing my fingers that I’ll meet it.
One reason this strategy works best for me is that when we evaluate sessions, it’s immediately obvious whether we’re hitting sales goals. For example, if I’d projected a $1,000 average for studio portrait sessions, but we’re averaging $750, then we need to figure out why. Were our portrait consultations on track? Was my marketing attracting my ideal client? Were sessions resulting in quality images that the client couldn’t say no to?
The bottom line is, do not wait. Keep your business healthy year round and make changes as needed to ensure it thrives.
Mary Fisk-Taylor is the co-owner of Hayes & Fisk Photography in Richmond, Virginia.