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Walking through the store – all of a sudden I heard my five-year-old SCREAM. One of those blood curdling and toe curling screams. Your heart sinks and plummets to the floor.
I look over to see her tear-stained face, lip quivering. She then says “I lost cupcake.”
My jaw dropped. What? All of this over a plastic horse? (No, it wasn’t a real cupcake, that I could see the screaming about cupcakes!!)
But, alas, as a parent you know you have to go find Cupcake. I mean, you never leave a toy behind, right?
So we retrace our steps. To the dressing rooms where I had to wrangle her into a pair of tights she didn’t want to wear, then over to the bathrooms for one of fifteen trips in this excursion. After going up and down the escalator a few times with a crying five-year-old in tow, we saw Cupcake. It was like the heavens opened up and angels were singing. Thank goodness, because there was no way I could finish our school shopping with her crying and refusing to try clothes on. And this was the one shot I had to take her to try on clothes without the rest of the kids with us.
It had to happen today.
So we grabbed Cupcake, profusely thanked the checkout lady for finding him (and feeding him “apples” while we were looking for him), and went back to our shopping. Unfortunately, the emotions had taken a toll. She was absolutely done trying on clothes. And honestly, so was I. So we packed up and headed home.
This is not much unlike business owners. Especially mid-year when they don’t feel like they are succeeding. The first of the year is started off with excitement, energy and ready to take on the world. But as time goes by, you start to lose motivation and effectiveness (sales, marketing, insert any other aspect you are struggling with). Ultimately, this starts to impact the bottom line of your business. It leaves you wondering if things are really going to happen for you.
It can happen for you. But when you hit that brick wall, lose Cupcake and just want to go home – here are two steps you can quickly take to get around that wall, get rid of the feeling and FINISH THIS YEAR STRONG!!
Map a plan
You need a plan, much like a shopping list. But it can’t just be a list in order of what gets you excited. Or what you think is most important (although this has benefits at times). It needs to be a mapped out plan that is most efficient AND effective. Take for example, had I been methodical in arranging our shopping list in order of departments in the layout of the store – we would’ve been quicker to get the clothes we needed. Instead of up the escalator, down the escalator, across the store, back towards the front.
I urge each of you to have a methodical plan. You need to have a big picture, then break it into bite-sized manageable chunks. I always start with my year long-projected plan (of course, my long term goals past a year in my mind), but then everything is broken into quarter, then into the month. And yes, we can even get into the day (when scheduling administrative days, days off, and my social media marketing posts). Big, medium, small and bite-sized.
This helps you to also know exactly what you’re going to do when it’s time to sit down at your computer. Don’t waste 20 minutes screwing around on Facebook or rewriting your to-do list on fancy notepads with gel pens of various colors. Get to work.
Retrace your steps
Remember how we lost Cupcake? Being methodical would’ve made the traipsing around even easier. A lot less tears (mostly on my part!!) Having your bite-sized list will give you a direct place to examine analytics for what could be inefficient and/or ineffective in your business. Should you see client inquiries going down, sales not hitting the mark or marketing going awry – you can pull out these tangible maps/lists, pair it with your numbers and know exactly what is going wrong.
For example, let us say I have started a new marketing campaign and want to see if it is paying off. Knowing the deadlines and the general turn around time of effectiveness for marketing (can range 2-5 months), I can pull the reports for the quarter accompanying and following the marketing action to see if it was effective. I can also pull all incoming client requests and examine the “where did you find me” section.
So many times it’s not the initial planning portion of the business that is the issue – it’s the lack of retracing and analyzing the steps. By retracing steps, I have a better view of what is truly going wrong in my business.
Instead of automatically jumping to one of the following actions:
-I need a new logo
-It must be my pricing
-People are just not valuing photography
-There are too many photographers in my area
Not to say that these may not be truly valid reasons for a downward spiral in business – but often these are the scapegoat excuses that many photographers throw around without any true research as to whether they are the cause.
Sometimes it’s just easier to blame what seems to be ‘easy fixes’ than to do the mapping and retracing to find out the true issues.
I recommend that a mapping/retracing activity occur at least once a quarter – if not on a minor scale at least once a month. You don’t want to wait until the end of a calendar year to straight and get your back on track. AT THAT POINT IT IS TOO LATE.