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Step One to a Successful Business

Just breathe!  As simple as it sounds, that is the first step to moving a business forward.  The first time we moved with a business was disastrous!  I had no idea what I was doing and I panicked, lost money, a lot of sleep, and strained my marriage.  I needed to just breathe and attack my mountain of crazy with a plan, but I didn’t have one.

For all the photography and business education out there, there is nothing just for us nomads.  We are the nomads, the ones who move frequently and still want to have a career that we love.  Don’t get me wrong, there are great resources out there for new business owners but a lot of them rely on building a referral network and investing for the long haul.  For us and our family, the long haul lasts 3 years or 4 if we are lucky.  We move and start all over again.  To a normal business owner that is just a black hole of death.  Every mentor I have ever worked with just says they wouldn’t know what to do with that.

I am here to tell you, it isn’t a black hole of death!  It is a hidden gem, a diamond in the rough, that we get to move so much.  I get the opportunity to work with some of the best in the industry around the U.S. and in some amazing and varied locations.  I don’t deal with location burn out because I get to experience the Hill Country of Texas, the historic Manor Homes of Virginia, the mountains of Western North Carolina, and the plains of Kansas.  To me that is a photographers dream!  As I write this I have a sudden urge to do a fist pumping victory dance, that is how excited I am!

So now that we have had our dance party  . . what next?

In order to make your next move successful, you need a plan.  Just like you plan for your household goods to be boxed up and moved, you need to prepare for your business to be moved.  The biggest stressor we had in the early stages of moving my business was leaving things unfinished.  My past clients would contact me months later to see if they could schedule a Christmas session but I had moved or they would refer a friend to me but I was now out of state.  This leads to unmet expectations and disappointment which is never good.

The minute your move is official do two things:

  1. Block off the two months before your move and do not take any sessions during that time if you can.  This alleviates any stress of still providing a quality experience for your clients while being in massive upheaval.  This also allows you to prepare your business for its new home city. (More on that later)
  2. Send out a VIP email to all of your past clients and let them know how much you love them and will miss them.  Let them know where you are headed and when the last session date is.

I bet you feel better already!  Two simple steps in this plan that can be done today.  Check back next week as we talk about preparing to move to a new place.  Have a question about moving your business?  Leave a question in the comments below.  Want more tips in your inbox?  Sign up below!

Plan to Move a Business | The Restart Specialist

Letters of Introduction » The Restart SpecialistApril 5, 2017 - 7:54 pm

[…] Moving a Business | The Restart Specialist […]

Value in Saying Goodbye

Our last military move taught me the value of saying goodbye as it relates to business.  It may seem that saying goodbye would close more doors than open them, but I have found that simply is not true.   Last week I talked about the first initial steps to take in a move and one of them was to write a VIP newsletter to all your past clients.

This newsletter allows you to say goodbye and thank them for how amazing they have been.  This also reminds them that the anniversary session they have been postponing only has a limited amount of time left before you are gone.  By doing this you are taking care of your clients through clear communication.  You are giving them a window into what is going on in your business.  I never want to turn down a client because I am no longer available to them so I make sure they know what is going on.  I also make sure that I am not closing a door to any future opportunities by letting them know that I travel for almost all of my weddings and in some cases even anniversary sessions as well.

The second and most important thing that I do is let them know where I am moving to.  This is what has truly opened doors for me in the past.  In my newsletter, I include the following:

  • I ask if anyone is familiar with the area I am moving to
  • I ask where the best places to eat are because my family are serious foodies at heart and my clients know that
  • I ask them if they have anyone in that area that would enjoy my services as much as they did and then I give them a VIP code to share with them

In doing this, it has opened numerous doors for my family and my business.  It allowed me to start booking clients before I ever landed in the city I was moving to and kept me connected to past clients because they felt vested in our move.  Saying goodbye isn’t a bad thing because it allows you to say hello to a whole new adventure somewhere else.  For more VIP tips on moving a business, subscribe to our newsletter below.

Moving a Business | The Restart Specialist

Tools to help you move a businessTools to Help Survive a Move

I say that moving takes a village with packing, organizing, cleaning, and keeping the kiddos entertained.  Moving a business on the other hand, that takes an army.  I used to attempt to move my business on my own and it lead to me being very tired, very cranky, and forgetful of what needed to be done.  Over the years, I have learned to automate or outsource things that I just can’t do as I tried to move my business.  So here are my top 6 tools that help me stay sane and move efficiently and smoothly.

  1. An editor – when I have a wedding two weeks before a move date, knowing that those images will still be delivered in two weeks or less with the same care and attention as they would normally get when I wasn’t sitting amid boxes is well worth it.
  2. Planoly – Having both my instagram accounts and their insta – stories preplanned makes moving a breeze.  The alert gets pushed to my phone when its time to post something and my social media doesn’t go dead for a month because I am moving.
  3. Meet Edgar – This baby pushes out all my blog content to social media for me so that I don’t have to.  It keeps my content cycling through so that clients continue to see articles I have written.
  4. Guest and Ghost Bloggers – If we are facing a particularly arduous move, then I will either ask industry friends if they would like to guest blog or I enlist the aid of my awesome ghost blogger to write out content for me that I have outlined for her ahead of time.
  5. Blue Apron – As we near the end of our time in one location, we have to start clearing out the fridge and I hate to waste food.  We order from Blue Apron so that nothing is wasted and it has the added bonus me not needing to go grocery shopping when I am busy.
  6. Convertkit – I can preplan out my newsletters months in advance and schedule them to go out before the boxes are loaded on the truck.

As you can see there is a bit of a theme here with lots of outsourcing and prescheduling of things that need to happen.  The more prepared I am ahead of time, the more successful the transition is.  Do you want more great tips for moving a business?  Make sure you sign up for our newsletter below.

Moving a Business | The Restart Specialist

The Value of Saying Goodbye » The Restart SpecialistMarch 28, 2017 - 2:45 am

[…] Moving a Business | The Restart Specialist […]

Why someone didnt pick you

My Client Went to Someone Else

Nothing can stress a small business owner more than losing clients to a competitor.  We have all been there and walked through that experience.  It can hurt your ego and yes, it does sting initially but how you handle it is what is of utmost importance.  Do you go on social media and pitch a fit or complain to your girlfriends?  What if we stopped doing that and looked at it as a way to grow our business.  Sounds crazy right?!

The Best Thing That Could Happen

One of the best things that can happen to a small business owner is to loose a client.  Why?  Loosing a client teaches us and allows us to grow.  If things were always smooth sailing in our business then we would never grow strong.  Difficulties in life and business serve to teach us and make us assess what we are doing and why.  When a previous client of mine went and booked with another photographer, I had to assess why.  If you are loosing clients to other competitors, here are some areas to assess:

  • Experience – are you providing your clients with an amazing experience that they will rave about and want to come back for more?  Are you spoiling them and treating them the way that you would want to be treated?
  • Price – are you priced appropriately for what you are offering?  This is often hard when our emotions are tied to what we are creating.
  • Ideal Client – who your ideal client is will change throughout the life of your business.  When you are first starting out, you may find that as you raise your prices, you loose some clients and that is ok.  As you start to target your ideal client, you will build brand loyalty and those that love you will stay with you.

You Can’t Be Everything

You can’t be everything to everyone and that is ok.  You shouldn’t try to be.  I recently had a sweet friend go to another photographer for a cake smash session.  Initially, I was surprised but then I realized, that is not what I do.  I don’t offer that genre of photography.  Those that are successful in their industry know that they can’t be a jack of all trades, doing every style of photography out there, or they will be a master of none.  I want to be a master at my craft but I realize in doing that, I have to be ok with not shooting every single session that my past clients want.  If you want to grow and succeed in the business that you are creating for yourself then you have to be ok with not everyone picking you.  There are enough people out there wanting what you have to offer.  You will be OK!

Business Growth | The Restart Specialist

 

Rebranding for a Move Part 2 » The Restart SpecialistApril 11, 2017 - 2:33 am

[…] More Business Tips | Relocating Your Business […]

Pour Some Bubbly

Over the past few months The Restart Specialist has out grown it’s little space at Meredith Ryncarz Photography and been just begging for a new home.  Today we pop some champagne and host a little virtual ribbon cutting ceremony to our new space.  We are so thankful for Elise’s help in creating this virtual living room, a space where you can come and take a deep breath as you find the answers you have been looking for.  Answers on how to successfully relocate and restart your business so that it grows and thrives rather than remaining stagnant.

What’s Different?

Not only will this site host  the new blog space but it will have more dedicated content to growing and relocating a business than what was on my photography website.  We also have a new shop with the second edition of our e-book originally written back in 2015 and the ability to schedule in person or Skype mentoring sessions.  As this home grows we look forward to adding additional workshops and educational content for you.

Why?

You may be asking, why start yet another site by a photographer on how to run a business?  Here’s the thing friend, moving a business is different, moving it every three years is unique and when I looked around, there were a lot of us “Nomads” and constant “New Girls” who face relocation but not enough content on how to do it.  I have walked that hard road of figuring it out so that you don’t have to.  We saw a deep need and desired to breathe hope, growth, and joy back into your creative dreams.

Now What?

Here is the great thing, you get to follow along with us over the next 6 months and watch as we move both the Restart Specialist and Meredith Ryncarz Photography from Virginia all the way to Alabama.  Through the blog, newsletter, Facebook, and Instagram there will be different tips and tricks as well as lots of behind the scenes into the crazy fun ride that is a move from one state to another.  Not signed up for the newsletter?  Make sure you head to the link below so you don’t miss out.

Working with a Second Shooter

When you are working with a second shooter there are many facets to consider.  From training to contracts to personality, all facets of bringing someone into your business need to be factored in.  In the first part of the series I addressed how many people often search for second shooters on Facebook groups and how as a general rule I disagree with this practice.  Keep in mind that this is your business and your reputation on the line, not someone else’s.  I am about to lay down some of the most straight forward blunt information I will probably ever put out there.  To begin with . . . this isn’t personal, it’s business.

Reputation

The reason I believe that so many photographers end up hiring their spouse or sibling as a second shooter is because you can trust family to protect your business and reputation as if its their own.  I have had the honor of having some amazing second shooters in the past who cared about my business and my brides as if they were their own and for that reason, I ask them work with me.  I have become a strict gate keeper when it comes to who I work with because the hardest thing to build in a business is reputation and its also the quickest and easiest thing to destroy.  Who are you letting represent your business on a wedding day?  Is it someone random off of Facebook or someone you have trained and trust to be a good surrogate for you throughout the wedding as they interact with guests.

Get it in Writing

I can’t tell you how many issues have popped up in mentoring groups dealing with second shooters.  The first question I ask is do you have a contract?  It’s great to have expectations that are clear on the part of both the lead and the second but if it isn’t in writing, those words are like dust in the wind.  Get a solid contract and make sure that it is reviewed by a lawyer, not just something you created for yourself.  This is something that needs to be outsourced to the experts.  Once you have that contract then go over it with your second shooter.  Make sure there is no confusion on what the expectations are.  These may change over the years as you and your business mature.  When it does change, go back over these changes with your assistants and make them aware of it.

Training

Early this month I wrote about how I take the time to train my second shooters so that the content they are creating is usable and of a quality that I expect.  You can’t expect to pick up a second shooter on Facebook like a blind date and know that they will create the images you need.  To do so sets you and them up for failure and potentially angry clients.  Determine what their skill level is, what they need to know to perform the tasks you need them to perform.

Revisit and Rate

After each wedding, I revisit it with my second shooter.  I go over it as an after action review to help them continue to grow.  This also lets me to rate them using the 3A+ model I use and gives me a clear and unemotionally biased look at what they are doing.  Are you assessing your second shooter?  When you do this, you are able to catch patterns and weaknesses to help them improve.  In having this post wedding meeting, it also allows you to recognize where they are excelling as well.  Want more information on second shooting and how to find them and hire them?  Sign up for our newsletter below and check back soon for our blog post on being a second shooter.

Finding Second Shooters | The Restart Specialist

 

Packing Tape and Moving Boxes

We are so excited for all the announcements going on this week not only here at The Restart Specialist but also over at our original home, Meredith Ryncarz Photography.  It wouldn’t be a website about relocation without a little (or BIG) move now would it?

This week we are so excited to announce that we are moving from the beautiful colonial area of Virginia that we have called home for three years down to the grand state of Alabama.  We will be relocating there while J attends school to get his Masters degree in Nursing.

Follow Along

So here is the fun part!  We want you to follow along with us on Instagram stories, our newsletter, and here at the blog to see how we move not only this business but my wedding business as well.  Each area will have different tips and tricks that we hope you will find helpful to hitting the restart button on your own business, whether that is just simply infusing your current business with more strength and growth or having to physically relocate it across state lines.

Vetting an assistant

Assistant Photographers

Last week we talked about finding assistant photographers to second shoot on wedding days.  Once you have a list of potential candidates there are a few things to do before you hire them, once you have hired them, and even after you have worked together.

Review Their Work

Before hiring a second shooter I generally ask to see a portfolio of work as well as either some form of references from fellow vendors or I set up a try out or both.  I recently hosted my first try out for assistants here locally.  We walked through expectations and then jumped straight into posing.

This allowed me to see how they all worked together as they each took on lead and assistant rolls with the models.  If showed me how each worked under pressure and gave me an idea of their skill level.  At the end of the day I asked them to send a gallery of unedited images from the session for me to review.

This try out coupled with references tells me their personality type, skill level, and work ethic.  In learning this I am able to asses which assistant will pair best with which wedding.  Something awesome came out of this as well . . but more later.

After Action Reviews

Generally the week after the wedding I like to preform an after action review of the second photographers work and go over any questions they may have.  This allows them to grow in their skill level and correct any issues that came up.  I use a system called 3A+ from The Arbinger Institute, developed to help rate where they are and where I hope to see them grow to.

Why Do This?

I have often had other vendors ask me why I invest so much time into my second shooters when most people out there are covering wedding days with their spouses who then are a permanent fixture in the business.  As much as I would love to have my husband work along side me, due to his job requirements, it simply isn’t feasible to do that at this time.  As to my assistant photographers, these folks are also growing their own businesses and while they are helping me to serve my clients, they are also learning how to serve their own.  Since I travel all over the United States, they also become a great resource in the event we have a wedding near them or a client we can’t serve but can refer back to them. . . I have more on how we make this work coming next week.

 

 

 

Working with a Second Shooter » The Restart SpecialistMarch 21, 2017 - 9:57 am

[…] Finding Second Shooters | The Restart Specialist […]

Profit and Pricing

There are two things you need to know if you are ever going into the Shark Tank or just simply running a small business.  You need to know your profit and your pricing.  We are huge fans of the show S and in our house we make predictions at the start of the pitch if we think the company will get a deal or not.  Inevitably the people that don’t know their numbers are the ones that struggle the most.

Cause and Effect of Pricing

If you are not priced appropriately it will directly effect your profit.  Before adjusting the prices for your goods and services, you need to determine how many hours each client or project requires.  You need to also start listing your cost of goods in regards to each project and operating costs for the whole year.

Emotional Pricing

The second step of looking at profit and pricing has to do with emotions.  Are you pricing your services based on an emotional response of fear or  have you pulled a random price out of the clouds because that is what everyone else is charging?  Here is a secret . . . you can’t charge based on emotion for very long because it doesn’t make sense and financially it will eventually leave you in the red.

Pricing for Profit

So now that you have assessed what your costs are and if you are emotionally setting your price or not, you are ready to price for profit.  Set aside what others are doing and do what is right for you, your business, and your clients.

 

Locating an assistant photographerLocating an Assistant Photographer

How often do you see someone posting in a local photography group looking for an assistant photographer or second shooter on a wedding day?  I get it, there are multiple reasons to be looking for one but is this simply creating more work than it’s worth?  So how do you go about locating one?

Social Media

Now don’t get me wrong, social media can be a great start to finding a second shooter but I don’t recommend locating one for each job two weeks before hand.  Instead, I recommend putting out a call for interviews in your slow season.  This allows you time to to find someone that has the required skill level you need or ample time to train them.

Ask for Referrals

Rather than asking through social media channels for random photographers to photograph with you, consider asking trusted friends in the industry who may act as a good referral network for finding second shooters that they may have mentored.

Why this Matters

So you may be thinking why does this matter.  What difference does it make how or where I look for an assistant photographer?  In a way it may not entirely but once you have a list of applicants, do you vet them?  If not, you should be because the people who assist you on wedding days are surrogates for your business.  How they interact with your clients and what they produce in regards to images will directly reflect on your business.  So how do you vet the list of potential photographers once you have them?  Check back next week to find out.

Hello & Welcome

Do you desire a thriving creative career despite the challenges of relocating? Then you are in the right place! Welcome to the space you have been searching for! After spending years searching for the answer to constantly relocating my photography business, the Restart Specialist was born.

  

  

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