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Tuesday Tips | Monthly Check-ups

A lot of photogs will tell you that their favorite part of running their business is the part where they actually get to take the pictures…dont get me wrong, I definitely love that part of running this business, but I really LOVE running the actual business side of things (if you exclude that little thing called taxes)…I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really great at it yet, but I have so much fun figuring it all out…call me a nerd, but I love the processes and systems that help a business function behind the scenes..I love analyzing and figuring out why some things work and some don’t…why exactly some businesses flourish and some fail…and I wouldn’t even call myself an analytical person. But I am definitely a curious kind of person and I love to ask questions and figure out the why’s…

I would argue that a lot of people don’t realize that starting a photography business is like starting any other business and that most don’t understand how much work goes into the back end of a photography do I know? Because before I started running this thing I had NO CLUE the amount of effort that I’d have to put in to get it off the ground.

A while ago I read about Katelyn James’ Monthly Duty Day on her blog…it’s all about getting those pesky monthly tasks done that are CRUCIAL to running a business but that seem to slip through the cracks so easily…

…and it made me realize a) that i definitely need to have a monthly duty day and b) that I need to have a monthly CHECKUP day…let me explain…

I’m one of those people that would evaluate the success of my business based solely on whether or not I’m making people happy…I love making people happy and if this were my perfect world that would definitely be how I’d gauge the success of my business….but unfortunately that’s not the case and in order for a business to be successful and continue growing it not only has to be making people happy, it has to be making a PROFIT.  Yikes the P’s a scary word to think about especially if your in your first year of business like myself and aren’t seeing a huge ROI yet (Meaning return on investment. I just wanted to say ROI to prove that I learned something in my college econ class). I definitely think that success looks very different for different you would have to tweak this list based on what success means for you…For me success doesn’t mean that I have to be making a certain salary or booking a certain number of weddings necessarily..and when I first started I didn’t care at all about the money aspect of things…in fact I kind of dreaded it and wish I could just have infinite hours to shoot weddings for free and not have to deal with money…but then reality sunk in and I do think it’s important to examine the details (and sometimes the not-so-fun numbers part of things) in order to make sure you’re moving forward…Running a legitimate business is EXPENSIVE.

So here are some questions I’ve been asking myself monthly (and I actually list Checkup as one of the things on my Monthly Duty Day checklist) to help me evaluate what I’m doing well and what needs to change if I want my business to grow…

  • First I look over my Mint account has a super handy budget feature that lets you view your monthly spending and compare it to previous months…
  • I look at my income and profit margin…if I’m not making money or I lost money, was it because I was investing in something big like my new branding? Or am I making careless smaller purchases that could be eliminated?
  • I look at if I’m continuing to book clients and evaluate if I’m taking care of my clients well?
  • Am I setting aside enough money for taxes?
  • I compare my SEO stats to past months..If my site has more traffic than previous months, what am I doing better? If it has less, then I ask myself how I can improve?
  • What are the bottlenecks in my business that I tend to dread that slow me down and waste time or keep me from moving forward (ie. overly complicated packaging, going to the post office too often, etc.)
  • Am I getting better at my craft? What steps did I take this month to learn something new or grow my skills?
  • Am I honoring the Lord with my business? Obviously this is specific to me and my faith…but this one is really important to me in defining what success looks like for me and my business.

If I’m asking myself these things monthly and checking up on myself and my business, the hope is that I’ll catch any problems before they become huge problems later! I’m learning that running a business takes a lot of proactivity and forward thinking…but I also decided to pick one day a month to ask myself these questions instead of daily or weekly, so that I don’t get overwhelmed…I think it works really well to have a full month to look back on, then it’s easier to notice actual trends and repeated mistakes I’m making over a period of time!

Got any ideas for check up questions that I should add? I’d love to hear them!!

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  1. Lauren Hammond

    January 23rd, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Love this!!! Thanks for your tip!!! :)

  2. Ashley

    January 23rd, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    What a great way to look at your business! I actually have to agree with you. As much as I love shooting, I love working in the office too. I’m so glad I found your blog. Such great tips! I hope to be as sucessful as you someday! =)

  3. ashley link

    January 23rd, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    you are good, girl! i really need to start evaluating this stuff better. also, i love the last point the best! so true! <3

  4. Melissa Grandt

    January 24th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    This is a GREAT idea! Thanks for the tip. :)

  5. Erin Schrad

    January 24th, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Anna! What a great post! Thanks for sharing this insight into running a new business. :)

  6. Lydia

    February 20th, 2013 at 1:24 am

    What a great idea! I just set aside three more dates this year to stop and check my progress, and these are perfect questions to ask myself!

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A glimpse into my daily life in Richmond, VA (and travels beyond) with my husband Ryan, our disobedient puppy Lexie, and the work, style and attempts at minimalism in between.


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