Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

When we start out in business we have little or no money to pay ourselves, let alone money to pay someone else. We invest everything we earn straight back into the business to keep it afloat. There comes a time, I like to call the tipping point, when you realize that you just can’t fit everything into a 24 hour period. You’re spending too much time behind the computer editing photos and not enough time bringing in the business. It feels like you’re so busy but you can’t seem to get on top of your to do list. This is when you have to make the decision to delegate or drown!

When you force yourself to take a good look at your situation, you will identify the areas of your life that need help. If you break down your hourly rate by including all the tasks you squeeze in, you will realize that you’re worth a pretty penny! This means that if you decide that your hourly rate is $100 per hour to photograph a session, why on earth would you spend five hours cleaning your house when cleaners would charge you $100 for all five hours? Uh duh it’s not rocket science. That does not make good business sense.

The same goes for retouching. Many photographers actually like to spend hours perfecting their images using every conceivable tool, template or action they can get their hands on. If you’re like me, I prefer taking the pictures and marketing than spending hours on my computer retouching. What I’ realized is just because I have the skills to do the retouching doesn’t mean I necessarily should.

After years of spending his evenings alone, my husband gave me an ultimatum: fix it or find something else to do. My family is the reason I became my own boss, so I could be in control of my time. My business was running me instead of me running my business. So something had to change. I had to buy myself time to do the things I really wanted to do. I decided that my time is far too value to spend it on things I can pay someone else to do faster and cheaper. I would much rather spend my evenings with my family than working past midnight retouching!

I could have kicked myself when I did my research and found that graduating students from my local Arts Institute were willing to work for next to nothing just to have the opportunity to work in a photography business. Finding such great talent for free was such a revelation! What I could pay a student to do was ten times less than what I would equate to spending myself. In fact, the skills they are taught could show me a thing or two! I finally had my life back.

Now I’m sure many of you are thinking; ‘’Yeah sure that’s all fine if you have the business to pay for help but I don’t have enough money to feed myself’’. This is where you have to change your mind set. From now on, you have to charge for retouching time and build it into your cost of sales. I can guarantee you that you will stop wasting so much time doing the unnecessary once you have a firm grasp that time is money, literally.

Something to note, if you find yourself having to ‘’fix things’’ in Photoshop it means you’re not capturing the images right the first time. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to first get things right in camera, Photoshop is there to enhance our work not to salvage a bad job. If you find yourself in this position, perhaps you need to spend more time perfecting your technique; and there are loads of talented photographers who teach great lighting.

In business, the best way to get ahead is to have systems in place and tools to shorten the time it takes to finish tasks. There are many software programs available that you can use to minimize the time you spend doing repetitive tasks.

Only once you have your systems in place, will you have the peace of mind and confidence that you are actually running your business – not it running you ragged!

The “Jack of all trades” general practitioner just doesn’t work anymore. Consumers want to know that they are putting their money with someone who knows what they are doing and who understands their needs. Painting everyone with the same broad brush will not produce the desired results as not everyone is into the same shade of green. Become the best you can be at your particular area of expertise and success will find you.

“So believe in yourself, you are worth it. Don’t doubt your dreams. You can do what you love and be paid for living it!”

{Big hugs}

What is your opinion about delegating? Share your comments below…

Originally published in the Artsy Couture Newsletter}