Earlier this year, my wife, Lesa, and I were traveling to meet with the Professional Photographers of Oklahoma. Our connecting flight was in Atlanta, where our plane picked up 40 lively Georgia firefighters. At the gate, they gathered and bantered back and forth with animated gestures, laughing, backslapping, and welcoming new members into their circle as they arrived. Our seats were planted in the middle of this group during our short flight to Tulsa. Lesa asked the young man in the window seat lots of questions. They were all trainers heading to share their knowledge with others in their field. Later, we found out they were part of the elite Georgia Smoke Divers.
Watching this lifesaving group mill about as they gathered their luggage, I noted the one thing every one of them had: confidence. I got to wondering if confidence was a common denominator among successful small business owners? Could it be the overlooked magical ingredient?
I did a Google search to find some information on these firefighters. The Georgia Smoke Divers website notes: “The elite few, strong in mind and body. The mental aspect of the program is more difficult to describe or prepare for. The most important mental factor is that you want to be a Smoke Diver. If you decide to apply because you just want a challenge, your buddy did it, or you really aren’t sure, then you are at an extreme disadvantage. Taking the course is a personal choice that you must make. This desire must be independent of anyone else’s expectations of you. If you are afraid of failure then you are at a disadvantage also.” Wow! Do you see how easily you could replace “smoke diver” with “photographer” or any other entrepreneurial endeavor?
In my Google research, I also stumbled on author Annie Ashdown and her book “The Confidence Factor,” which outlines how to step away from self-doubt and into your potential. I love that she equates self-confidence with potential—you can’t have one without the other. Perhaps her seven secrets of successful people might be useful to you.
Let’s evaluate the confidence factor in different areas of your business model.
Branding is a top-to-bottom endeavor. It’s anything and everything client-facing that tells people who you are. It’s the way you dress and present yourself. It’s marketing materials. It’s the look of your studio or home office. It’s the professional (or less-than-professional) way you communicate and interact. Do you exude confidence in your branding or do you reveal some insecurities?
Consultation poise comes down to preparation. Are you ready to discuss the client’s needs before you share pricing? Now is the time to confidently communicate your value and the unique solutions you offer clients to fill their needs.
Session success means being prepared to execute the joint vision you and your client share. Do they feel you’re in control of the session and in command of your craft?
Ordering appointments are an opportunity for you to share your images and follow through on the needs and desires set forth in the consultation. You’ve prepared clients for this and preconditioned them with potential products. You’ve already made them aware of the pricing they can expect.
Delivery might be the most important part of the client experience, and it’s definitely my favorite. This is the time to put a bow on their experience. Would they consider your delivery over the top, personalized, memorable?
Projecting confidence even when you don’t feel it is key to communicating your value to clients. Take a look at each facet of your business and evaluate whether it’s displaying confidence in your abilities and your business. If it isn’t, then find a way to cultivate that confidence. Look into additional education and ask for testimonials from clients to see where you shine so you can build on that. Remember, the road of a business owner is a bumpy one. But the road to success is always paved with confidence.
Gregory Daniel is the owner of Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist in Titusville, Florida.