What does effort look like?

Going the extra mile is the difference between success and failure, and it’s do-able, says business guru CATHERINE CONNOR

What does effort look like? The recent Aspire Bespoke attendees have been the inspiration behind my motives in sharing these thoughts.

I have just spent two days informing and educating some fantastic photographers. All are determined to take the brave stride into the marketplace with style, the right answers and confidence. But even when you have the right answers, the confidence has to develop with you at a timely pace which comes with experience.

All on the course were inspired to take advantage of their new-found knowledge and with vigour, yet I have to confess there was a moment on day one when I felt I had blown them out of the marketplace with suggestions and ideas. What I was witnessing was a room of photographers facing the reality of everything they had to do to ensure they became successful. And the reality was not as pretty as taking the pictures. The reality of the effort that would be required in the early stages of business will involve Long days, late nights and early mornings. The phrase ‘work-life balance’ was parked! Not forever and not every week, yet. To push a business into the marketplace at speed, it was going to require a Lot more than a random post on Facebook. It was going to require a plan for every month, a weekly structure with content within the structure of the plan that would make all the difference to growth. This was going to have to be a ‘nothing-to-chance’ plan.

Others have done it.

We shared a moment when I felt the attendees could not take any more! No more ideas, suggestions or even any more solutions to success. Why, you may think? It was simply that the List of things to do was getting too long and a little overwhelming. The question at the forefront of their minds was ‘How am I going to slot all this stuff into the business time I have available, balancing child care and photographing weddings alongside?’ Naturally I did have an answer for all the budding photographers within the room, which was a welcome relief.

My heroes in the industry, those I admire the most, all have the ability to fight for their businesses growth when a fight is required.

What any fledgling business owner needs to implement is quality time, not volumes of time. 40 minutes of well-planned content and intentions within that time is, in fact, a very well planned effort. Your business needs a tidal wave of effort to ensure it grows at the right pace and speed. Too many leave too much to chance; if you’re a ‘nothing will be left to chance’ person, I salute you as this is just what your business needs.

… So you can do it too.

I asked the group to imagine the impact on their business if all their ideas were implemented; then to imagine 80 per cent implemented, then 40 per cent. Even at 40 per cent you’d be giving your business a better chance than many. Effort and a Lot of effort is one of the key ingredients to heighten your success. When many might waver, give up or reduce their pace, make sure that you are in the ‘doing’ gang and actually up your pace. Be under no illusion; the pioneers and photographers we admire the most have certainly had their turn at burning the midnight oil as they too formed a business. I have to admit, in our busy marketing months, I will often do a 14-hour day. Why? Because I love it and because I will fight for my business. And I am passionate about doing my best. At times it can be all the difference between treading water and growth. You can’t keep the pace going though, impossible certainly if we want to remain creative and happy. Yet when required to sweat for the business, sweat! And do so with a smile that those you are competing with might not have. Give your business everything you can. When you want to know what effort Looks like, ask yourself have you done enough? When you are searching for clients and the right clients, ask yourself again, have you done enough?

When plotting your marketing strategy reassure the business by firstly ensuring there is a plan and secondly implementing that plan. Don’t become the professional list maker, a ‘never does the list, just writes the list’ kind of person.

Take a moment over the week and review your list. What effort might be required to move the business forward? In my experience money is not always the issue; do all the things you can do for free first. This will generate momentum, even if it is not a tidal wave at first. Never become the business owner who throws money at the problems. Instead, show a little creative spirit and suggestion as it is bound to have far more impact!

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