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Entries in business (2)



I was reading Following Your Bliss, Right off the Cliff on the New York Times website. Long and the short of it, "Following your dreams is risky and sometimes you fail." 

Duh. But yeah, it's true and it's something to think about during the planning process for your business (or your side business, or your community program, or wherever your dreams fit in the scheme of things). Sometimes the dream isn't enough.

There's some science in this article, about the part of the brain that controls worry and the pain that comes from it. And to overcome that physiological reactionso that we can take action and attempt to make our dreams come true, despite the risk of pain and failurewe feel hope.

I love this line from the article:

As paradoxical as it sounds, [Michael Derring] said, “If you stop worrying about the outcomes, you will achieve a better outcome.”

Stop worrying about the outcomes? Yikes! Most of the time, it seems like "worrying about the outcomes" is all we do! But there's a sweet sort of logic here.

The article is more or less saying, "Don't let your emotions become invested in the business." Don't put your self-worth on the line for a shoe store or an auto shop or a novel. If you fail, you'll believe you are the failure. But that's not how failure works. A person isn't a failure. Only actions can be failures. A person is a decision-making, action-taking, hope-and-faith-having machine. We make decisions, we take action, we have hope and faith that it will work out. And if it doesn't ...

If you approach a business or any other endeavor with the attitude that, should it fail, it isn't the end of the world, you can pick up and recover, you're chances of success actually increase. You're willing to take more risks, for starters, and risk is the price of momentum. You may take actions you wouldn't have taken before, in a more cautious mindset, and those actions lead to results, and those results may end up bringing you increased benefits. Or they may blow up and fade out. It happens.

From a financial standpoint, this is why you want to be smart about the way you invest in a business. Make the decision early on to stay away from debt. Take on investors, but don't take on loans. Investors know that they're taking a risk, and that it may not make a return. Lenders don't care either way if you succeed or fail, they expect repayment with interest and they'll try to destroy you if you don't follow through. Investors empower, lenders enslave. 

Trust me on this one ... I'm enslaved to a lot of lenders at the moment.

From a spiritual standpoint, this is why you want to ensure that your business is built to glorify God. God likes it when we do things that are empowering, that build something that brings good into the world. Staying focused on God's Ultimate Rule—Love your neighbor as you love yourself—means you're doing everything right. You won't have to worry about mistakes coming back to bite you in the ... assets. The business may fail, due to a lack of demand or bad timing or myriad other reasons, but it won't take you with it. 

So what happens after failure? Learning. This is the point where you pray and ask for wisdom. "Show me, Lord, where it went wrong. Show me how I can pick up and start again. Show me how to change my plan and build something that glorifies you." God never denies the request for wisdom. He just requires you to commit some brain power and effort to it.

This article ... I'm on the fence about it. I get a real "don't pursue your dreams because they're risky" vibe from it. But there are points made that are more encouraging. Hope—that's a good message. So read it as a cautionary tale. Have hope, but also have a plan. Have a goal, but don't worry about the outcome. Invest, but don't enslave yourself to the dream. You belong to a greater power than dreams.


marketing tip for photographers

Marketing tip for photographers: Show your work to the client in a very public place.

Starbucks will work.

This morning, I was sitting in my local Starbucks, surrounded by Christmas cheer and non-fat lattes, tappity-tapping one of those story things I seem so fond of. I saw a woman come in, wave to another woman, and then the two of them took a seat.

Woman #2 was holding a bag that she emptied onto the table between them, pulling out a book and a small, nice-looking, flat “gift box.” The box was filled with large prints of a young girl, probably around three or four years old. The book was a VERY nicely done portfolio of those shots and more, all large and in glorious color, and very impressive.

Woman #1 cooed and awed over every shot, and absolutely loved the presentation. And I heard Woman #2 thank her and tell her that she’d send a code in an email that would let Woman #1 order any size or quantity of prints she wanted.

It was a great presentation. And when the two said goodbye and parted, a third woman stepped up and asked, “Was that your work?”

“Yes,” Woman #2 smiled.

“Could I please have your card? I’m actually looking for a photographer who can take pictures of my kids!”

Woman #2 had to go to her car to get the card, but when she returned she handed Woman #3 a small envelope, about the size of a Christmas card envelope.

“Oh, you have a whole little packet!” Woman #3 said.

“I keep a big box of them in my car!” said Woman #2. “Every time I show my clients their photos while we’re at Starbucks I end up being asked for a card, so I put together this little packet.”

I’m pretty sure that’s a photographer with a new client.

Word of mouth has always been the best form of marketing. Get some good buzz, and people find you. That’s the best way to sell your product or services. Make a friend, and that friend wants to support you. I can’t think of a better way to market!