Reclaim Your Time
My dad is one of the smartest and hardest working people I have ever known. Growing up, I remember that he never missed a ball game or a band concert, even though he was busy running his own business; he always made time for us. But I also remember that whenever we were not in the game, he was sitting in the bleachers working, usually with his ledger. And every night when he came home, he had work he had to do then too. Because he was, and is, a great father, he always made time for us. I never felt like I was intruding when I went into his office and sat on his lap or on the arm of his chair, but every night he had to keep up with the paperwork that didn't get done during the day.
As an adult, I now realize that a lot of that paperwork was writing checks. My father hand wrote every single check, including payroll checks, and this was a constant chore for him. I think about how much better things would have been for my father if he hadn't needed to spend so much time writing all those checks. The wasted potential in his case was time to relax more, enjoy a hobby, or spend time with friends. These are the things he sacrificed to make sure the business and his family was taken care of.
Eliminate wasted potential
With today’s technology, some of those trade-offs don't have to happen anymore. If photographers are willing to try new things and take a hard look at their processes, there are amazing things that we can do. One of the core drivers of our company is helping small businesses like my father's by eliminating wasted potential.
I don't pay my bills every night from home. Instead, I pay them using an app on my phone while I'm standing in line for my coffee or at the grocery store. You see, it only takes me a few minutes to pay my bills, and ironically, my method is actually more secure than what my dad did writing paper checks. My app sets up a separate bank account which only allows checks through if I have authorized them. I have two-factor authentication turned on so to pay a bill I have to enter a code that's texted to me, and on my phone I have facial recognition turned on so I have to actually unlock the app using my face as the key.The amount of time that I will save over my lifetime by not having to deal with paper checks like my dad did blows my mind. This is just one of many efficiencies that most business owners don't even know exist.
Work smarter not harder
Running a small business is hard no matter what, but there are tools that make it easier. When I look at how people in many photographers manage their accounting, it is outdated and inefficient. It’s like sending a quick note via snail mail rather than email. The photographers that embrace new technologies early nearly always have a competitive advantage over their peers.
Using these tools is a prime example of working smarter not harder. Knowing what tool is the right one or figuring out how to configure and weave the tools together for the greatest efficiency is a specialized skill. Successfully implementing a system requires training, support, and skill in change management and technology implementations.But, the upfront investment can pay significant dividends in the future. We recently calculated that a client we helped would save over $100,000 a year in employee time on expense reporting alone. This was from an initial one-time cost of $50,000. They made their investment back in six months and will benefit for the long term.
I wish my dad had a firm like mine to advise him when he was starting out. Since I don't have a time machine to go back and help him, my firm is dedicated to helping the next generation of businesses avoid the same issues and time traps.