What 3 Photographers Taught Me About Entrepreneurship
This weekend I got to explore my creative side in the Canadian Rockies. To me Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
My wife was so kind to book me this four-day photo excursion with three amazing and well-known landscape and wildlife photographers. I knew I was going to experience the perfect stress relief before our new baby arrives in December (and after opening a new boot camp location just 3 weeks ago with the next set to open in 2 more weeks from today;) but what I didn’t expect was interesting validation to the entrepreneurial concepts that I teach so many of you.
In Saturday night’s fireside chat I was shocked to hear that so many of the 29 other participants had many questions about the business of photography and what these three individuals did that allowed them to attain a high level of success in their beloved field.
I think you will find the key takeaways both familiar and highly applicable to your fitness business so I wanted to share.
1) Services comprise the largest portion of their earnings.
This was and wasn’t a shock to me. In my own aspirations as a hobbyist fine art photographer I’ve been very focused on working through how to achieve greater distribution of my art through prints. In the fitness business I’ve seen so many people try to focus on selling products at the expense of energy that could be applied to ramping up the value of their service. The bottom line is; when you are good at something people want to buy YOU, they want to live vicariously through you; they want to learn from you. This is your greatest commodity, don’t undervalue it and be sure to embrace it.
2) Fear will hold you back in the beginning (and then in the middle, and then again later and throughout.)
This was such an amazing validation and affirmation of one of life’s greatest career lessons. When you start anything, the thing that will hold you back the most is your own fear. Don’t be afraid to just put it out to the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s art, boot camp or personal training services, the point is some people may not like it and that’s just ok because there will be enough that will; as long as you have the courage to keep sharing it.
Decide on a schedule and commit to it! In this case they were discussing the importance of nurturing your audience both on and offline with consistent content. People fall into patterns, consistency creates expectation, and expectation creates reciprocity and opportunity. Their suggestion for photography was to decide on a schedule you can commit to, maybe that’s just once a week to release an image that you feel reflects the best of your current ability and then commit to that.
This advice is directly transferable to your fitness training business (or likely almost any business.) We are in a content driven world, people consume more content faster than ever, and more and more people are producing great content. In order to be heard amidst the noise you need to solidify your voice. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately have a large subscriber base just continue to be consistent. Make sure your voice and opinions are consistent (take the time to prepare your best work, without delaying for perfection,) continue to convey a similar message and give people an opportunity to connect and feel something which leads me to the next point.
4) It doesn’t work without passion and drive.
I’m sorry but if you don’t care more about “what” or “why” you are doing something then “how much” you’ll make from it you’ll never experience what it’s like to be the most successful at anything.
You have to be in touch with your why; everything you do relating to your business (or your hobbies for the matter) should be intentional. It should create deep emotional connection and leave you with a greater sense of fulfillment. We all need money to be able to buy freedom to do more of what we want, but why not do what you want to make the money you need?
If you question your passion from time to time that’s normal (see #2) and it’s in those moments that you are often about take your greatest steps; my advice to you is when that happens sit down for 15 minutes and write out your “why” in a notebook and then attack the problem that has made you afraid. (For me this is actually a daily activity, the first 10 minutes of every day.)
5) Commitment and success out of necessity.
If you truly love something, if you truly want to be successful there’s no greater truth than: a part time commitment will generate part time results.
I think the best example of this is network marketing. The 99% become enamoured with the 1% that make 99% of the money. They buy in to the idea that they can “do it one the side.” The never acknowledge that doing it on the side means they just fit it in when they feel like and as such never really overcome their fears. Never doing anything with consistent effort and activity, and as such become more fearful and frustrated as to why their results are not as good as others.
At some point, if this is your passion, you have to “burn the ships” and make success a necessity. When your only option is to succeed you will always rise to the occasion and find a way, and this is truly the lesson that earns you a masters degree in entrepreneurship. Don’t take haphazard chances, do your due diligence but then commit fully and make success your only option.
Over more than 22 years in fitness these lessons have become guiding principles for me.
Sure there are all kinds of technical things to learn but without the above I can tell you they just don’t matter.
It was truly heart warming to see these rules apply in the business of photography as well; in fact I bet they are somewhat universal truths.
If I might add just one more before I wrap up.
Do what you love but make time to love new things.
I love being an entrepreneur, I care more about helping people than making money, but not all days are rosy. Many have required more work, frustration and suffering than I would ever have liked, and the balance comes in being able to step away from it for a time.
Photography has become one of those outlets for me, my guiding principles are still they same, but the medium is different. I can apply my same focus to helping people by creating something of beauty, allowing them to see the world in a way they’d otherwise miss, giving them an opportunity to feel something and tell a story, and the best part is my entrepreneurship has given me the freedom to explore and separate myself from the fears, frustrations and challenges that I know we all feel. Enrich your life, pour your heart into your business but when you can, save a little bit for something else, you won’t be disappointed.
Oh and if you ever want to take an amazing photo workshop be sure to check these guys out:
There’s nothing better than new experiences with humble and like-minded people.