Is it time to pivot your photography business?
Times have changed and a shift has taken place over the years from generation to generation. A shift that has featured the rise of many successful entrepreneurs like yourself that don’t follow a “traditional” career path. New studies have shown that the average person is said to now have 15 career changes in their life. As the days of picking a career path young and sticking to it are gone. We are now lucky enough to be afforded the opportunity to embrace change and pivot in new directions so often in our lives. But how do you know when it's time to make a change in your photography business? In order to answer this I invite you to ask yourself a series of questions.
- What does success look like to YOU?
2. What goals do YOU need to meet in order to get there?
Then look at your business and ask the same questions. If after asking yourself these questions you don't think your current goals align with your future picture of success. Then maybe it's time to consider a new direction in order to get back on track.
This concept of taking a new direction in your career and business is called pivoting.
What is pivoting?
Simply put pivoting is a change in direction and a shift in focus. This weeks Business of Photography podcast episode featured Adam Taylor a professional photographer who talked about how he managed to successfully pivot in his photography career. Adam identified goal setting, and his change in passion as the leading drivers behind his career pivot.
What might yours be?
Every successful photographer starts with a creative passion. Similar to how a seed grows into a plant going through the various growth cycles along the way. That require constant nourishment in order to continue growing into its full potential. Your creative passion is no different, in order to grow you must feed it right? Feeding your creative passion requires learning and change which can be uncomfortable. However, being uncomfortable can be a good thing as it moves us out of our comfort zone and into the growth zone. Embracing change more often shouldn’t be feared it should be applauded, as a symbol of growth towards achieving success. A common misconception about pivoting is that it represents failure or giving up. When in fact pivoting should be looked at as a representative of growth for you and your business.
Identify what these driving factors are for YOU. Figure out exactly what it is that drives YOU and what YOU are passionate about. This will make it easier to identify the direction required to make a successful pivot and avoid becoming complacent in your business.
You can check out Adams episode and hear more about his experience here
How do you know when it's time to pivot?
Here are 2 signs that you may need to consider pivoting in your business:
- Loss of interest and passion or discovery of a new passion
- Presence of new opportunities
Loss of interest and passion or discovery of a new passion
Your passion may be photography which is why you probably became a photographer in the first place. You have a creative passion and technical skills behind the camera. But somewhere along the line you may have become less passionate about the particular type of photography that you are engaged in, and have become complacent. If this sounds like you consider re-evaluating what you are passionate about in your personal life and consider what direction you could pivot your business to better incorporate your latest passion. Like Adam who recognized he had become more passionate about crossfit and pivoted his business from BMX photography to fitness photography.
Presence of new opportunities
One of the things that makes a great entrepreneur that has often been talked about is the ability to identify new opportunities. Maybe you have identified an unmet need in your market and you have the opportunity to fill that need. Or maybe you may have been focused in one direction for some time and have found some success in this area, but your business has outgrown this niche. If so, consider pivoting the direction of your business and adding a new focus point to allow for the continued growth of your business.
If you find yourself in a situation where a new opportunity presents itself, evaluate the potential risks and rewards of that are at hand if the opportunity is pursued. As well as what would be required from you in order to pursue the opportunity. To help you determine if an opportunity for your business is worth pursuing consider these 3 factors:
- Does the opportunity increase profitability?
- Does the opportunity increase efficiency or save you time?
- Does the opportunity improve your skill-set?
To help you determine this check out Sprout Studio’s Growth Potential Indicator Score Calculator. Which helps you calculate whether an opportunity in your business is worth pursuing or not, based on the Growth Potential Indicator Score formula.
How to successfully pivot
Having defined what success looks like to you, start researching what is required for you to get there. What steps can you take? What unmet needs can you fill in your market that will pivot your current business in a more successful direction. Be sure to utilize all available resources in order to gain as much knowledge as possible so you know exactly what you are signing up for.
For example, if you want to pivot from wedding photography to portrait photography. Identify someone who fits the picture of success that you are working towards and consult them. In order to gain an understanding of what steps they had to take in order to get to where they are.
Now having identified your new direction, set realistic goals towards achieving success in this new direction. Identify what transferable skills you have and begin thinking about how to market them. Think about how you can leverage your skills and strengths from your previous experience in the new market you are entering.
Don’t be afraid of having to prove yourself again.
Adam highlights in his interview with Bryan that you must be willing to work and prove yourself in order to successfully pivot your business. He uses the example of initially having to offer some pro bono work in order to build up his new portfolio and build relationships in his new market. It is important to remember that even though you may have established yourself in another market, once you change your direction you need to reassure potential clients that your strengths translate into your new discipline. It is up to you to connect the dots for people about what exactly your strengths are, and how you can deliver the results they are looking for.
At the end of the day you are your own biggest fan. As an entrepreneur you have already taken the initial leap of faith and bet on yourself to make a living doing what you love. Now it's time to continue growing your photography business and bet on yourself again by embracing and implementing change.