What does it take to be an entrepreneur of a six figure business without working 60+ hour weeks?
The answer : Systems
“It wasn’t until I worked my first wedding alongside a professional wedding photographer when I was 18 that I was sure I was going to run my own wedding photography company. By the time I was 20, I had started booking portrait sessions and weddings under the name High Contrast Photography, and since then (eight years ago), I’ve grown my company to be a six-figure business that’s a leading name in the local wedding industry.”
While it may seem that there aren’t intricate systems at play here, that would be where you are not quite correct. If we look back at Open University: Systems thinking, we remember that not all systems have to be ERP systems spanning over thousands of employees. Sarah, for instance, is able to utilize her ERP system Honeybook as an entrepreneur, that enables her to schedule clients, receive payments, and network with other photographers in the area, all in one location.
“A year ago, however, I was introduced to an online-based system called HoneyBook, and it has absolutely revolutionized my business. From first inquiry to final payment, everything is handled through the same site. A client fills out a short form on my website with basic details about their wedding day, which then populates as a lead for me in the HoneyBook system. After they decide to book, they get sent a contract right through the app, which they can sign online. Their deposit and any other payments are also made on the app. It gives my clients so much more flexibility and it is all so much easier to understand and process for a generation that lives in the digital age.”
We know that while customer management is a large part of being a business owner, it is by no means the only part, as we saw in Generating Capital from Social Media. The digital age entrepreneur needs to have a presence in the social media realm as well if they are thought to be a successful business owner. Sarah has again overcome this obstacle in the best way, with organic content.
“The fabulous thing about when I came into the industry is that social media (Facebook in particular) was just starting to take off as a means for marketing. I got in on the “ground floor” so to speak and made a page for High Contrast Photography. The “page likes” came in slowly at first, but it now has over 1300 “fans” which are past clients, future clients, their families, or just general fans who consistently like, comment on, and share my posts. Conveniently, I’ve managed to build this fan base almost entirely organically (without paying to boost or sponsor my posts) because the nature of what I post – wedding photos – is naturally something people want to share with everyone when it’s their own wedding. One click of the share button by the bride in the photos gets my name in front of all of her Facebook friends, which is the most genuine and simple way to gain free advertising.”
Overall, after speaking with Sarah at length about the growth of her business, it seems that between monthly subscription ERP systems and organic content creation on social media, she has been able to tackle the wedding industry in Baltimore. This shows us that the digital era empowers entrepreneurs to succeed if they have competing content for a specific audience. It was truly an honor to pick her brain, and I am excited to utilize some of her strageties in my own small business!