Fast Food Friday is all about planting seeds of ideas to help you grow a stronger business, brand, and presence as a photographer. Each "blue plate special," is meant to be comfort food to help you beat the patterns of procrastination, so many of you seem determined to continue.
Today's special is about establishing a routine to kick off each day. This is a challenging business because of several variables, all of them pretty much outside your control. You've got to keep up with technology; pay attention to trends in marketing and consumer needs; you've got to stay in touch with an entire industry; provide customer service to your client base; and all while maintaining a balance of being a spouse, parent, sibling or friend, and let's not forget your own well-being.
I want to suggest a start-up routine for you each day, with a few solid reminders from other resources, all tried and true ingredients to help you build a better business model, get a little more organized, and maybe have a little more fun.
Up until starting my own company in 2009, I had spent my entire career working for other companies. While I was concerned I wouldn't have the discipline with a home office and being on my own; I quickly learned that wasn't the challenge. The problem was being too disciplined and unable to pull away from the business!
Establishing a Better Routine to Kick Off Each Day
- Email: I typically jump into my email first thing, just to see if there's anything urgent that needs to be addressed. Usually, it's just a scan to know what's coming up for the day. Then I check my calendar on appointments, scheduled calls, etc.
- "Feed your head:" I'm dating myself, but it's still some of the best lyrics from Jefferson Airplane! I start each day reading or watching something that's motivational. For reading I love some of Melody Beattie's books; putting in a quote search on Google like, "Quotes about success," gives me a long list of inspirational thoughts, and the TED Talks Channel on YouTube is jam-packed with inspiration.
Here's an example of pure inspiration from a favorite TED Talk I shared five years ago in a post. It's 24 minutes long, so get a cup of coffee and just trust me!
- Exercise: In June of 2017 Sheila and I started walking every morning, and we've only missed a handful of days since. While the primary motivation was to get in better shape, it also gives us a chance to connect before both our days get too busy. Here's a link to a great article from the American Heart Association on exercise.
- Stay hydrated: There's ALWAYS water in my office. Sadly it took me years to get in the habit. Here's an article that might help you gauge if you're drinking enough.
- Facebook and Twitter: Time for social media, but with a few suggestions and reminders:
- Remember there are no erasers on the Internet.
- Don't write anything you wouldn't want a client to read.
- Use Facebook as a tool to build relationships - for example, track client birthdays and anniversaries.
- Breakfast: It's the most important meal of the day, but it's also the perfect time to step away from business and get in a little more quality time with Sheila. By this point it's typically around 9:30 - 10:00 am
- Time for the Blog: My business profile is very different from yours, but it's about this time that I focus on my blog. My business model has me posting every morning, but I always have a stash in the pipeline of content, but you're my audience. However, for most of you, your readership should be your target audience of clients, and you need to post a minimum of twice a day and be consistent!
Everyone's business is somewhat unique, and you have to do what works best for you. The rest of my day is spent developing content; catching up on reading what's going on in the industry and two tools I couldn't live without - my whiteboard and the phone. I'm a visual guy and hate reminders in my computer or cell phone - so my whiteboard helps me track things I need to do, and it's always in front of me, being updated all day long. The phone is also important and has become my signature - nothing beats catching up to good friends via a phone call.
Two last suggestions - our kitchen is a no-phone zone, and while I'd love to take credit for it, it's thanks to Michele Celentano. The kitchen is about our time together, and we work hard at keeping phone business out!
Last on the list - pick a time to shut down! I mentioned being worried about being disciplined enough with a home office. Well, it became just the opposite. Starting my own business, I couldn't step away from it. I'd wander into my office for a quick check before going to bed and come out an hour later, never realizing how long I'd been on the computer. "Just a minute," was soon defined as an hour or more and it was a strain on my relationship with Sheila. My advice is to pick a time and then cut things off. There will be exceptions now and then, but this isn't just about building your business but your quality of life.
Just remember, procrastination isn't part of your skill set. All of you pay attention to your workflow, especially with post-processing and backing up your files, etc. All I'm suggesting is that it's time to focus on your life-flow and take care of business at the same time you take care of yourself!