Business success is (or should be) on the mind of every professional photographer, and I’m very thankful for all those who read this blog and my photography business books, listen to the interviews here, or even avail themselves of the opportunity to get coached on their business with me.
However, just the other day, something happened that turned a light on in my own head, when a professional photographer said this to me during a coaching call:
I’m so tired of trying to get clients to hire me – when I talk to them on the phone, they seem all fired up about working with me, but then they never do for some reason…
I understood completely where she was coming from, and I totally sympathize with her feelings of disappointment – we’ve all been where she is right now.
So, we spent about 45 minutes discussing ways I could help her achieve business success, the things she could do, and then I asked her if she wanted me to work with her to help her reach her goals.
Despite her obvious need to seek help, and even though she acknowledged that she needed coaching, can you guess what she said?
Here was her answer.
… I’m very interested in this coaching program, and I know it will help me figure out how to get more clients to hire me, so I’ll have to think about it, and let you know…
Now you and I both know that the chances of her coming back and starting the program with me are slim at best.
But why is that, when she so clearly needs help?
Obviously, this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this, nor will it be the last, but I sat down and thought about it for some time, before realizing that the answer lay in her mental attitude – and particularly in the intensity of her own desire for success.
Business Success: Are You Interested Or Committed?
To illustrate what I’m getting at here, let me ask YOU a question:
Are you interested in making a success of your photography business?
Yes? That’s great but, unfortunately, it just might not be good enough to get you where you want to be.
To see why I believe this to be true, let me present a slightly different version of the question:
Are you committed to making a success in your photography business?
While there’s only one significant difference between these two questions, it’s a crucial distinction.
It’s only the choice of one word over another, but that small change will make all the difference in the world to the success of your business.
It’s a bit like being in love with someone. Are you really in love with them, or are you in love with the idea of being in love with them?
You see, “interest” is merely a dim and distant cousin of “commitment”.
Even with this obvious difference, so many people declare their initial commitment to business success, but their actual behavior suggests the’re merely interested.
This manifests itself in a variety of ways:
- Procrastination or even failure to get started…
- Over-researching, and the need to always need more information…
- Yielding to unimportant distractions…
- Complaining of insufficient time for the task…
- Redefining the parameters of the challenge as a “get out”…
- Claiming not to have the money…
- Waiting for the “right time” to do it…
When we fall prey to these symptoms of being uncommitted it’s a sure indication that we lied to ourselves at the outset, and were really only interested and not fully committed.
It’s also important to realize that commitment to business success is an absolute.
You’re either committed or you’re not. You can’t be 50% committed, or mostly committed, any more than you can be partially unique, or a light can be half on or off.
Here are some examples:
Sir Edmund Hillary wasn’t simply interested in being the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest… Sir Richard Branson isn’t merely interested in giving civilians the thrilling adventure of going into space… Robert Ballard didn’t just have a keen interest in locating the wreck of the Titanic…
I’ve personally met two of those individuals, and I can say from having talked with them, with no shadow of a doubt, that they were 100% committed to achieving the things they set out to do.
Business Success: Breaking The Interest Barrier
So what is it that really gets in the way of us moving from being interested to committed?
The answer is that trio of old friends, whom we’ve come to know so well:
Fear, Doubt and Worry…
It’s fear of the problem, fear of a possible failed photography business, and fear of the attention we’ll get if we don’t reach our goals.
It’s doubt in our own ability to succeed, doubt of whether we’ll stay the course, and doubt in how qualified others think we are for the task.
It’s worry about the lack of money, worry that our business might close, worry over what everyone else will think if that happens.
But , if we’re to break the “interest” barrier, into a world of full and total commitment, these are the demons we need to face first.
And for that we need faith.
I’m not really talking about religious faith here, but faith in ourselves, faith in the possibility of success, faith that we possess the will, the drive and the ability to persevere against any and all odds, despite what others may tell us we can or can’t do, in order to succeed – faith that our commitment will get us where we need to be.
Just a small amount of faith in yourself is all that’s needed to get started, and the power of that faith will grow and keep you on the right path – take another look at the photograph above, and the quotation that goes with it, and you’ll see why I felt it was so relevant to this post. (Oddly enough, one of the mountains in the photograph is Mount Cook, New Zealand, the home of the aforementioned Sir Edmund Hillary).
This same problem also accounts for the reasons why our prospects and clients often hesitate to make the decision to hire us for an important job, such as capturing a wedding or treasured family portrait.
There’s no escaping the fact that the “I’ll think about it and get back to you” excuse is universal in its application!
Finally, think about this and how it impacts your own business success in the long term:
If you won’t commit yourself to a necessary course of action, how can your clients be expected to?
Business Success: What’s Next For YOU?
I urge you to carefully consider the ideas presented here, and especially think about how you might be falling into the same traps in your own life. The next time you’re faced with an opportunity to move closer to your business success goals, ask yourself the question, “am I interested or committed?”
If you’re totally honest, the answer might surprise you.
As a photography business coach, I’m especially committed to working with people who are themselves committed to succeeding. If this describes you, then I would love to welcome you as a member to the Zenologue “Prime Focus” program, along with other like-minded professional photographers.
If, on the other hand, you’re still stuck at the stage of being “interested” then you might have some work to do to achieve the business success you’re seeking!
Have you fought a mental battle to achieve commitment in something that seemed almost overwhelming? If so, I would love to hear about it. Please do leave a comment below and share the benefit of your experience with us.