Why you need an Area of Innovation
Available online course: Studio Systems: A Photography Business BootCamp
I like to call it the triad of competition that really gets us as businesses to dominate or flop in a market. In Mike Michalowicz’s book “The Pumpkin Plan,” he calls it an Area of Innovation (AOI).
- Quality – BMW or Mercedes
- Price – Walmart
- Convenience –Jimmy Johns
Which AOI are you? You can’t be all three to all consumers. You can only compete on ONE of these principles. You’re either cheap, high end, or fast. You can’t be two of them either. You may be thinking to yourself Jimmy Johns is cheap and fast. A sandwich for $8.75? No they aren’t. I can buy a loaf of bread, ham and cheese to feed my whole family at the price of one Jimmy Johns Club Lulu sandwich. Jimmy Johns is FAST. “Freaky Fast Delivery” is their company moto. It’s one or nothing when it comes to AOI. Many have tried to be all three and failed. It’s no use trying. Focus on one and do it well. In the photography industry, most of us want to think of ourselves as quality, but constantly feel like we compete on price. But what you slowly learn is that those “cheap” clients, the ones you do all the hustling for, make all the demands and don’t spend a lot; they are drowning your business. When you first start out, you think you need them to survive. You’ll do anything for that next client. But as you grow, you NEED them to go to the other photog who’s AOI is price. Why? Because they will suffocate you. They will sap everything from your life and keep you from taking your business to the next level. Let ’em go! When they are gone, you are able to focus your time, your energy and build business systems around the clients who will support your growth, not drown out your business. But the AOI is just the beginning, and just one factor to what makes up your unique offering as a business. Another component is your top strength, the thing you do really, really well – your art and your service. It’s what you love to do, what you crave doing everyday, and why you started a photography business in the first place. It doesn’t feel like a job. And it’s what you want to do first. Every time. As artists it also includes our identity and brand- the impressions that we leave on our clients that make them want more.
“Your overall unique offering to consumers is a combo of your AOI, your number-one strength and the qualities, attributes, talents and interests that make you, YOU.”
Finally to really make the business sing, you need to be able to SYSTEMIZE every aspect of your business. You may think our industry is too specific and to unique to systemize–that it needs YOU (the artist) to survive, but that’s not so all the time. As artists, we can streamline enough to make it so the “I must do” components of our jobs are truly what you LOVE to do, and we can systemize enough so that we get back to doing what we LOVE exclusively-thereby making our businesses our pride and joy, our life-long dream that can give us everything we want and need, while at the same time supporting our families. What would you give to to be able to JUST create art everyday and be paid what you want to do it? It’s possible. It’s doable, but it means making some tough choices and weeding the garden, so that the prize-winning veggies can grow with ease. Systemization is what will allow you to take a long vacation and not worry that things are falling apart while your gone. If done right, your business can even grow while you’re out. It will make the daily grind less frazzled. Your life will de-stress and your family will have YOU back, not only your mental being, but also your quality time.You have to find the “Sweet Spot” as Mike Michalowicz calls it. That place where systemization, high-end clients and a unique offering marry together in a beautiful, symbiotic relationship. That sweet spot is where your business has huge potential for growth. And systems are such a CRITICAL component.
Image Courtesy of “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowicz. You can buy it here.
My Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp course on Creative LIVE is truly a labor of love and one that took almost a year in the making. I first proposed the class to my dear friend at CL, Arlene, in an 8 page outline back in September of 2014. I begged, borrowed and pleaded until she finally signed over the contract for it to air in a 26 day whirlwind of education.
“It’s a hell-bent, double-over, chew-you-up and spit-you-out course that will change the way you run your business. It’ll make you think about being an entrepreneur in a whole new light. It’ll depress you, lift you, inspire you. An most of all it will transform and invigorate your dream. ”
So before you start my course and learn the systems that make a photography studio succeed, take some time to step back and look at your business and your “sweet spot” from 40,000 feet up. Michalowicz has some great ways to do that:
- First, get back to “why” you began this journey to begin with. Why are you a photographer? An artist? And not something else? What was your passion? Finding your WHY will not only clarify your purpose, but will also help your clients and future clients connect with what you stand for as a business. It will be your guiding light in everything you do, create and operate.
- Figure out what the business needs provide you in terms of monetary income. I’m not talking dream salary, just right now. What do you need to survive for the next year while you learn to systemize and find your “sweet spot”?
- Ask yourself challenging and more constructive questions: How can I make $1000 per day? Not – Why is this so hard? Note that one big question that always gets in your head when business struggles are tough and real. Mine is always “Why can’t I do this?” and then switch-a-roo it to “How can I find the tools I need to complete this? What do I need to learn?”
- Revisit your business dream. When you first started your business, how did you envision it 5 years out? What did your life look like? What did that dream do for you when you were starting out? Did it keep you going? Fledgling dreams tend to push us through the tumbles and falls in the beginning. Then slow, drawn out reality hits us and makes the dream’s power to inspire us fade over time. But if your business is struggling or you are over worked to the bone, then you need that dream more now than ever before. So write down that dream that inspired you to start your business, and pin it somewhere you will see it everyday.
So in my course, we are going to find your “Sweet Spot.” Over 26 lessons, I’ll take you through systemizing everything you do in your business. The goal is to make your business thrive on its own merits, to grow like a giant pumpkin. There’s a very specific strategy to doing it, and it takes an honest, brave and valiant effort to do it. But it will give you back your dream, your time and your family. It will give you the life you’ve always dreamed of, and the power to transform it any way you want. -Julia