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The First Year | Outsourcing

Life is busy no matter who we talk to.  In creative fields there are countless people working their normal 9-5 jobs while they try to build their businesses and it’s hard to find any time for themselves.  Even the people who are full time with their businesses run into time being an issue.  There are just too many things to do to run a business and there is rarely enough time in the day.

A little over a week ago we had the honor of speaking about our first year being full time to group of around 40 photographers at a photography conference called Photo Lush in Bellingham.  During our speech one of the talking points was about outsourcing and how it was really important for our business as we started to get more busy and we were trying to balance our business with my full time job, the Air National Guard and having a family.  During our talk we had a lot of ground to cover so we didn’t get to go as deep into our outsourcing process as we would have liked and I figured it would be a great thing to write a blog about.Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

We already outsource a lot of things that used to be done at home only 50 years ago.  As our technology has progressed the education level required to maintain the items we use in our daily lives has hit a point where we are no longer capable of maintaining them.  Cars are a great example!  How many people still take the time to change their own oil?  How many of us are even capable of repairing small problems with our cars?  I’m guessing not very many of us.  House projects are another big one.  Last winter we were having issues with our furnace turning on when the thermostat was triggering it to turn on.  We had to call someone out because the thermostat was too complicated for me to fix.  Even if I knew how to fix it I probably couldn’t have though because it was something completely separate and I never would have known it was an issue.  In all of these situations we are outsourcing a task to someone because we don’t know how to do it, know someone who can do it better or realize our time is more valuable doing other things than spending hours trying to take care of tasks that take a professional very little time.

A huge turning point in our business came in the thick of us working way too many hours and being spread as thin as we could possibly be spread.  We hit a point where there was almost no choice but to outsource some of our business tasks.  It doesn’t have to get to this point though.  If you can take a little bit of time to see where your time is best spent and then find the right people to outsource the things you are either not excited to do or aren’t good at doing in the first place you will free yourself up to do the tasks that you are best at.  For us that meant we needed to get rid of a few big things so we could give ourselves the time to do the things that would bring us the most business while also giving ourselves more time with our family.Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

We didn’t outsource our taxes first but it’s first on the list.  Hire an accountant!  We tried to do our own taxes for several years and it was like banging our heads against the wall.  As a small business owner it is a nightmare to try to navigate tax code and it’s easy to spend way too much time figuring it out.  It will also minimize the number of mistakes you will make.  The people who do this for a living know exactly how everything needs to be filed.  Even more importantly, if you don’t have an accountant doing your taxes you are more than likely throwing money away because they will know the small details in tax code that can save you money.  Seriously, hire an accountant!  I wish we would have done it the moment we started our business and it will literally pay for itself.

Outsource your editing.  I know that there are a lot of people out there that really enjoy editing and if you’re one of them I think you should stick with it.  I’m not one of those people.  Editing is exhausting and I realized that there were a lot of other things I could be doing that would help us bring in more business.

There is a bit of a rule to this though.  Well, it’s my rule but I think it’s a good one.  If you’re going to outsource your editing please make sure you’re sending your work to someone who is more skilled than you are.  I see a lot of people sending out there editing to some of the big names in editing only to get it back once the editing is done and still have to make changes to every photo.  There are a so many companies offering editing services now that it just doesn’t make any sense to me that people are sending their work out, paying for it and then still have to work on it.  Find an option that fits the style you are known for.

The other part of this is that you need to feel comfortable communicating with the person you are sending your photos to.  If you want a style that’s light and airy but you get back photos that aren’t done this way you need to communicate that.  We have been sending our work out to Weditoo for almost three years and I am in constant communication with them.  That’s the reason we are able to get our photos back and not need to make any changes to them.  We have built a working relationship with them where I can tell them the look I want or how I want my profile to change and they can tell me why I may not be getting it based on how I’m shooting and give me recommendations on how to adjust how I’m doing things.  It’s been a great working relationship!Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

Outsource your graphic design!  When we first started we typed our business name, Patience Ivory Photography at the time, into a Word file and went through all of the fonts on our computer until we found a cool one.  It wasn’t exactly a well thought out process.  Sure it worked for a while but it wasn’t the best fit for what our business was.

We also spent hours and hours for months trying to figure out building a website.  It was a huge waste of time and is probably one of the reasons our business growth in the first few years was so slow.

Just like we are passionate about photography, graphic designers are passionate about graphic design.  They love figuring out the design of a logo and brand based on what that business stands for.  When we finally decided to move our business in a different direction and go with Joe and Patience as a business name that was accurate for what we do we also decided to hire Caava Design to design our logo and build a custom website.  The process was awesome!  It dug deep into the style of brands that we liked and ultimately resulted in the logo we are using now.  Of all of the money we have spent for our business, the money spent on building our brand has had the biggest return.  We have to give credit to not only the Caava Design process but also to the fact that they love what they do.  Seriously, it’s worth every single penny!Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

If you aren’t sure where to start with outsourcing, take a little bit to sit down and figure out what tasks you don’t like doing.  There are always going to be things that suck away time at a rate that gets out of control quickly.  Those are the things you should consider.  Taxes, editing, graphic design, culling, etc.  We know people who have hired someone to do office work like emailing for an hour or two per day because they know that they are either not very good at that side of the business or because they have to much other work.  You might have to dig deep and it might not be an easy decision to let go of a little bit of control but if it means your business can operate more efficiently or that you get more time with your family it’s worth giving it a serious thought.

Thank you so much for reading!  We hope you have a great day!

If you want to check out the other posts in this series you can get to them with these links…

Personal Fear

Financial Fear

Marketing Part I

When Were We Ready?

Marketing Part II

Learning from Setbacks

Taking Risks  

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