It is said that if you know your competitors and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your competitors but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your competitors nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
The Art of War is primarily attributed to Sun Tzu, but what if he had written The Art of Business?
If you know yourself but not your competitors, "you'll win one and lose one." So, doesn't it make sense to get to know your competitors?
- Get involved in the local guild or PPA affiliate.
- Create your own networking luncheon with vendors and competitors who are targeting the same audience.
- Be involved in the various forums on Facebook so you can understand everybody's challenges.
- And locally, knock on their doors and introduce yourself!
If you don't know yourself or your competitors you're doomed to "be imperiled in every single battle." Here's where so many of you drop the ball; It might sound stupid, but you don't know yourself either!
You've taken short cuts to get your site out there, but your site is hard to navigate and loaded with mediocre images. You figured when it came to your galleries the more images, the more professional you'd look.
You're disappointed in the results of your promotions, but you spent a minimal amount of time thinking them through.
You call yourself a professional, but your skill set is weak - best example - you've declared yourself a natural light specialist, claiming you love natural light when the reality is you're afraid of studio lighting because you haven't taken the time to understand it. (Check out today's post from Profoto with a 3 minute lesson in lighting from Sandy Puc!)
I don't mean to be insulting, just hoping a few of you realize some of the things dragging you down. The best part of this is everything is fixable - but it takes a commitment!
- Spend some time and go through your website. Is it easy to navigate?
- Look through your galleries. Is every image a "wow" print? A "wow" means they're so good you'd only have to show one image to get hired.
- Build your skill set? Stop going to programs just because you love the speaker. At every convention select some workshops that hit on your weakest skills.
- Know your gear, which means every setting, every button, every feature! You can only do that with constant practice.
- Read every "how to" book you can find...watch every video...attend every live hands-on workshop and webinar.
- Get to know the staff at the various vendors whose services and gear you choose to use. They can be incredibly helpful, and they're a key to building a powerful network.
Business today is tough enough with just the challenges of the economy, technology and keeping up with consumer trends. Pay attention to that face you see in the mirror every morning. Ask yourself if you're giving that person, the one looking back at you, the tools they need to be successful.
Most important of all, pay attention to your weaknesses and balance them with your strengths. Nothing could be truer than one of Shakespeare's most famous quotes:
To thine own self be true!