At the end of every year, photographers and business owners find ourselves reflecting on the year and looking ahead to the next. This season is a a time of transition and renewal. It is the the perfect time to reflect on what worked, what did not and begin setting achievable photography business goals for the new year.
You might be wondering however — are goals REALLY that important?
Yes, goals and setting them are important for your business. Just like a vision, they help guide the decisions you make day to day. If you are motivated to see growth in your business, setting goals is imperative.
4 Steps to Setting Realistic and Achievable Photography Business Goals
Every year about this time I begin winding down on the past year and looking forward to the next. It’s a time of optimism and excitement for the new year.
Here is the 4 step plan I follow every single year to keep my business moving forward.
What your need: In order to make the most of this time, you need to first set aside a dedicated time for this goal setting session. It’s easy to day dream about your new goals or casually give it some thought. If you are really serious about growing your business, you need to dedicate the time to setting realistic and achievable goals.
Pick a space in which you will record your thoughts. Every step in this goal setting exercise will require you to record something. This could be done electronically or on paper – whatever feels most comfortable.
Step 1: Reflect on Your Business
The first step in setting realistic and achievable goals for the new year begins with reflection. You can’t plan for the future without knowing what you are starting with. You need to establish your baseline, or the summary from this past year.
Dedicate time to reflect on your business over this past year. Look at both the tangible and intangible aspects of your business and record the stats that mean something to you in your business.
I like to record the following metrics for my photography business:
- Business Revenue – This is the total income brought in by my business. I break it down by per year, quarter and month.
- Business Profit – This is the revenue minus expenses. It shows the true profit of what I made after expenses.
- Total Number of Sessions – I break this down by year, quarter and month.
- Types of Sessions – I like to know how many of each type of session I did.
- Total Revenue per Session Type – I breakdown my total revenue by session type.
When it comes to the intangibles — reflect on what you enjoyed the most and what you did not. If you loved working with small children but did not enjoy working with couples, you will want to consider this moving forward. Take the time to really reflect on the areas you want to grow or change in your business.
Step 2: Consider Your Vision
Once you have you have your baseline recorded, take the time to connect your progress with the overall vision for your business.
A vision is a very broad, long term goal for your business. It’s the direction you want your business to take or the dream you have for your business.
If your business is full-time, your vision may be motivated by growth and profitability. If your photography business is more of a side gig, your vision may be driven more by creativity and fulfillment.
Whatever it is, record the vision for your photography business.
Step 3: Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
Now that you have a baseline (the physical numbers that drive your business) and a vision (the direction you want your business to go), it’s time to begin setting your goals for the new year.
For this step, I like to follow the SMART system for goal setting. It’s a very popular and practical way to set goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for the following:
S – SPECIFIC: Set goals that are specific and not vague. You want to record goals that can be defined. Keep in mind characteristics like who, what, where, when, how and why when setting goals that are specific.
M – MEASURABLE: You need to define goals that are tangible. Assign a metric that is measurable that would help you track the progress towards your goal. If the goal is large or long-term, assign milestones or smaller steps that will collectively move you towards the completion of the goal.
A – ATTAINABLE: When setting your goals, you need to make sure that the goal is both realistic and attainable. It has to be something that can be accomplished.
R – RELEVANT: Goals are great but you need to make sure they are relevant within the context of your business. The goal should align with the overall vision you have for your business.
T – TIME-BASED: And last but not least – your goals need to be time-based. They need to have tangible deadlines for achieving them. If you are setting larger yearly goals – break them down into quarterly and monthly goals so you can track your progress.
Step 4: Create a Plan of Action
Last but arguably the most important factor or all is Action. You need to create a plan of action to achieve your goals. A goal without a plan is just a wish!
You took the time to define goals that are both realistic, and measurable. Think about the step or changes you need to make to put a plan into action that will help you meet your goal milestones. For example — if you want to increase your revenue, this would mean increasing your sessions, raising your prices or perhaps a combination of both. Figure out what it is that you need to do to make it happen.
Tips for Successfully Achieving Your Goals
1 | Write them down in a highly visible place.
Keep your goals in a high traffic area that you will see on a regular basis. Keeping these visible will help you keep focused.
2 | Check your progress regularly.
Schedule a time to check your progress on a regular basis. You need to keep yourself accountable by measuring progress.
3 | Consider the seasons when setting your goals.
Most photographers will have slower seasons. Be sure to account for this when setting your milestones or quarterly goals.
4 | Pivot when needed.
Changes happen all the time. If and when you experience something that could affect your ability to hit your goals, make a change. You do not want your goal to fall far out of reach which will result in you abandoning it.
In the next few weeks as the year winds down, take the time to reflect on your business and set realistic and achievable goals for your photography business following the 4 steps above.
As 2022 approaches – what is important to you in your business? I would love for you to share your goals and tag me on Instagram @danielleblewittphotography.
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