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We didn’t see 2020 coming. A lot of us were shocked & confused, sometimes emotionally fatigued because of isolation. Unfortunately, the isolation was also felt in our wallets because businesses, large and small were not prepared for what was coming. With massive layoffs happening across the globe and in huge corporations, you can only imagine how it was like for SMEs. In what seemed like the darkest of clouds though there were several silver linings. For instance, we remembered the most important things in our lives, like family, good health, rest and prioritizing it. The business environment was not short on lessons, we also learnt 7 powerful lessons that can transform any business. Let’s get started:

Psst just before you start, last year in January, we also wrote about business lessons we learnt in 2019. You can read about it here: 7 Lessons we learnt in 2019 from our photography business

Now let’s get started!

Lesson 1: Scale, you don’t have to do everything

As creatives, we are wired to think, the more we do the more we prove to the world we are the best and the world should choose us. Newsflash, that’s an illusion! A lot of photographers, who are part of the creative community, get stuck here, thinking they should be the best photographer, editor etc. The truth is when running a business, you will not be able to do everything efficiently. A client cares about good results and the process that affects them but behind the scenes, that’s on you. When starting out, you may be forced to do a lot of things yourself but with time you will need to transition especially as your client base grows.

For instance, if you have different clients requiring you to work on multiple projects, you may need to build a team to assist you with the different tasks like shooting & editing. What about your accounting, do you have an accountant who can assist you with your books and filing your taxes?

Building a team doesn’t mean you have to employ everyone. It means you can work with fellow creatives, consultants or part time assistants.

We got to listen to E-myth -the audio book version, a transformative book for entreprenuers! If you have never listened to it or read it, I would strongly urge you to spend the time to learn from the book, it will change the way you think about business!


Lesson 2: Sales is more than cold emailing – digital is key

Selling is something that a lot of people don’t like, most especially the creative type. It is necessary though, what matters is how you go about it. In 2020, we got reminded that the digital space is the future especially when movement was so limited. Second to referrals, having a website, an online portfolio or social media profiles can greatly improve your chances of being found by clients.

Make sure to invest more time in putting your work out there. Make sure what you put out is what you want to be hired for.

Beef Sandwich

Lesson 3: Delivering is more important than being the best

As photographers, sometimes we focus so much on being perfect or being the best. While delivering good quality work is paramount, it shouldn’t be a trade with not delivering at all. Define your process so that you deliver good results for your client in a timely manner. Sometimes clients choose to work with people who may not be the best in that field simply because, they know they deliver.

Dairyland chocolate spread with fresh bread on a table

Lesson 4: Diversifying your income streams could save your business

Hardly anyone anticipated how 2020 would be like. Businesses were hit hard, especially the ones that required a social setting. Business that survived were the ones that had already taken advantage of digital platforms and had different income streams or the ones that were able to pivot quickly.

As a business, what other opportunities reside in the same field you are in? For instance as a photographer can you sell prints, are you interested in video and how can you harness it? Are there opportunities to teach? We are also figuring this out ourselves and where we want to go. It’s a good lesson to learn early.


Lesson 5: Not every client is for you

When I was new in business, whenever I would loose an enquiring client, I would feel terrible for days! I would go over everything I had done and whether if I had done anything differently, I would have retained the client. It was agony! I always thought I was the problem but guess what, different people have different budgets, priorities and requirements and that’s OK.

As long as you have communicated clearly, you are open to discussion with the client and have showed them your work, then you have to wait for them to make a decision. Sure you can follow up with them but hounding them doesn’t necessarily mean they will work with you. What we….I have learnt is that people who want to work with you will find a way to do it.


Lesson 6: Don’t ignore your own rules

You know, we normally know what we are supposed to do but do we always do it? If it’s a contract, share it with the client, if it’s a shoot list, don’t ignore it. Embarrassingly, there are a few times I have ignored our own rules and it’s come back to bite us.

Well recently, I neglected to state that we would like to use the images we had shot for the client in our marketing. Suffice to say, when we were sharing the images with the client, they stated that they would not like the images on any of our platforms. That includes our web portfolio and our social media handles. I took it for granted since we’ve never had a problem with another client, even agency clients but don’t make the same mistake I did by assuming.


Lesson 7: You don’t have to finish it today, you can finish stronger tomorrow

Those who shoot, know how taxing a shoot can be. Many, many times, I’ve been so tired in the middle of a shoot and at that moment, being unintentionally sloppy becomes the norm. You don’t notice mistakes or you are only willing to do the bare minimum and you can’t even think about new perspectives. During these times, it’s better to pause the shoot and finish off when you are rested. Let’s just say I’ve learned this from experience, because when you get to editing that’s when you shock yourself. Save yourself the head and heart ache.

Also, a lot of the time, we get into such creative work because we love it. If we only focus on finishing, we end up not enjoying the process. I want to take my time doing my work and loving every bit of it, please note that doesn’t mean wasting time.


We hope you have picked some lessons from the articles. If you would like to contribute an article, share a blog topic that you would like us to cover or share an experience you have gone through, let us know in the comments or our social media handles.

Summary of the 7 powerful lessons that can transform any business

1. Scale, you don’t have to do everything
2. Sales is more than cold emailing – digital is key
3. Delivering is more important than being the best
4. Diversifying your income streams could save your business
5. Not every client is for you
6. Don’t ignore your own rules
7. You don’t have to finish it today, you can finish stronger tomorrow

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