At the heart of every achieved goal is an intense and unquestionable focus. I hear lots of folks talk about setting goals, but if you’re being honest, setting the goal is the easy part. Setting goals is unquestionably important, but without discipline and focus, any goal will remain unrealized. Photography business focus is having the discipline and personal fortitude to put the business plan you develop into action consistently, regardless of the many obstacles that will inevitably arise throughout your career.
Keep your Eye on the Ball
There are few things in the world as ubiquitous for children as soccer. Even in a country like the United States where professional soccer typically takes a back seat to sports like football and basketball, most children play soccer for some period of time. When a young person starts playing soccer they typically have no knowledge or mastery of the nuance of the game. These kids have one goal, get to the ball and put it in the net. This plan isn’t really the best. These little guys and girls would stand a much better chance of victory if they spread themselves across the pitch and passed the ball methodically up the field, but this rarely happens at the beginner’s level. These kids see the ball and run to it like a flock of pigeons to a bread crumb. They also have what photographers need — focus.
Know the Objective
For any objective you may have, there is a set of actions you can take that will move you closer to achieving that goal. The set of actions will not be covered in this article, you can read more about making a photography business plan that works here. Instead, we will tackle the main underlying cause for not following that plan — lack of discipline. In the soccer example above, all these kids are watching each other. In fact, the only knowledge they have about the game is what they observe others do. Other kids run to the ball and once in a while, some of them score a goal. That observation is enough to encourage them to run toward the ball and try to score.
If business were a little more like soccer, I believe that more entrepreneurs would find success. In soccer, if you want to play the game, you have to exhibit your skills publicly. There is no way to execute your game plan behind closed doors. Your opponents will see and copy everything you do. In business, there are many ways of hiding the process that makes you fail or succeed. Competitors work very hard to make and keep business secrets that they have developed over the years. The result is that many business hopefuls become discouraged, not knowing if what they are doing will ever lead to success. This discouragement often develops into a fatal lack of discipline that will make achieving your business goals difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Believe in Yourself
The act of forming a business is a difficult thing. If you have done this, you are likely not a lazy person. The problem is that lack of laziness is not a guarantee of success, you must also have discipline. Discipline is required to develop a winning business plan and follow it every day you go out the door. If you haven’t had some experience in business, this can be a tall order, after months of work and not much to show for it. Doubt can creep into your mind, which may make you question if you’re on the right path. If you find yourself in doubt I suggest you tell yourself that there are two possibilities
- I am on the right path, and I will eventually achieve my goals by following my plan.
- My path may not be the right one yet, but I know that through persistence and focus I will eventually find it.
Patience and Persistence in Business
In the early 2000’s, a hedge fund called Scion Capital saw an opportunity in the mortgage lending market. The idea was that certain types of mortgages were more risky than they seemed, so Mike Berry, the fund manager decided to bet against them. The obstacle to making his strategy work was that he was investing large amounts of other people’s money and the investment was going to take some time to materialize. When uncertainty loomed over these investments, many of Scion’s investors wanted to withdraw their money from the fund. Berry then decided that he would exercise his right to prevent investors from withdrawing their funds for a time until the plan had time to materialize. Needless to say, this made him a lot of enemies, but he had done his homework and knew that following his plan was the right thing to do. The fund ended up returning a 489.34% return to its investors.
Continuing your course in the face of uncertainty is a hallmark of the successful photographer. No ones business path is easy and we all face adversity. This is the nature of most worthwhile things in life. There is a tendency to lose patience in our pursuit of business success. You may think that you were misguided to think you could start your own business. Know that most entrepreneurs will have these thoughts at one time or another. I encourage you to use these times as an opportunity to fortify your resolve. Know that success is always attainable, but you must have focus.
photo credit: Mayur Gala