Creating Freedom as a Business Owner

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like you don’t have enough time in the day or week to keep up with the responsibilities of running a business, much less spend time with friends and family?

I know I’ve felt that way! As I manage multiple businesses, I want to make sure I’m giving my two kids focused time, have the chance to hang out with my closest friends, and get a little quiet to myself.

There are many ways that we can become more efficient as business owners, but one of the quickest ways to create time for ourselves is to focus on proactive tasks while minimizing reactive tasks.

On a business level, proactive tasks or activities are those that will grow our business, increasing revenue and ultimately, profit. Personally, proactive tasks help you get closer toward reaching goals.

A few examples of proactive tasks are working on your annual marketing plan, taking a client or potential client out to lunch, brainstorming a new product, or planning a bucket list vacation.

Reactive tasks are those which have to happen in order to exist – whether in our business or personal life – but have nothing to do with bettering our business or personal life. They don’t require our involvement in order to be accomplished.

Tasks such as bookkeeping, managing online brand presence, washing the dishes, or mowing the law, are all reactive tasks.

Try something: make a list of the things that you do in your business and at home on a day to day basis. In detail. Then go back through that list, and based on the criteria above, notate the tasks “proactive” or “reactive.” Ideally no more than 25% of your daily activities should be reactive in nature. That’s a 3 to 1 ratio of proactive vs reactive tasks.

How is that possible?

1. Outsource / Delegate – If you can afford to pay someone else to handle a reactive task, you should.

2. Automate – If you can’t delegate a task, figure out a way to automate it. We are surrounded by incredible technology, much of it available at minimal cost, and easily accessible online. Put that technology to work for you!

3. Simplify – It’s a funny thing: many business owners seem to get a high from sharing their incredibly complicated workflows with others. Complicated doesn’t equal cool – it just equals complicated. Minimize the number of moving parts in your business and personal life, and make sure that the tools that you do use enable you to accomplish your tasks as efficiently as possible.

Nathan Holritz is an entrepreneur based in Chattanooga, TN. Starting in professional photography 11 years ago, Nathan helped bring a modern style of premium wedding photography to the Chattanooga market via Holritz Photography.

While helping run Holritz Photography, Nathan saw both a personal and industry need for a company that could handle the post-processing of the thousands of images photographed at weddings. He created Photographer’s Edit, a company geared toward providing a simple, affordable solution for professional photographers to outsource their post-processing following weddings and large events. The company was launched in 2008, and has continued to grow since.

In his free time, Nathan enjoys spending time with his two children, reading, watching movies, and speaking his second language, Japanese.

read more

Guest Post: The Boutique Pricing Strategy

By Sarah Petty

Being small business owners many of you know in order to stay afloat, you have to charge more. So how do you put a price tag on the time you spend with your clients, the attention to detail that you give, the passion you put into every product you create or service you offer?

You could take a high level class on pricing or read a huge manual, but let’s be honest, who has time for that? We are busy practicing our craft, learning new skills, and building our business.

Determining the price for your offerings can be scary. You might be thinking you don’t want to undercut yourself or maybe you are afraid of over pricing and scaring clients away. I remember when I started my photography business in 2001; I was under charging and had no clue.

As my business grew I realized I had to a make changes in order become profitable and make my business grow.

Here are a few tips I have on how to set your prices:

First; you have to realize you cannot compete on price with huge companies. You never will.

However, what you can focus on is how to create a demand based on desire for your products or services through a strong brand.  When you create a demand, you can charge what you are worth.

So what can you do? You can offer greater services, more customization, a better relationship, and more surprises to thrill them along the way. Your clients will be so happy with their decision; price will not matter.

Here’s what not to do with setting prices: 

The Big Guess: Don’t even consider this strategy; I had to include it because I know this market includes a lot of creative people. Some people don’t know the value of their time or don’t know the price of their costs. They are simply happy that someone is willing to pay them to do their craft and leave the pricing up to the customer. Unless you get lucky, this method of setting prices won’t make you profitable.

The Competitive-Based Pricing: Many businesses base their prices on those of their competitors, but if this is a boutique business you are going to get yourself in a pickle. The truth is you will never win with competitive based pricing.   If you go online to see what your competitors are charging, you will find prices ranging from high to low all across the board.   If you are using this strategy to price your products or services, you’re trying to justify the price of a product as if it is a commodity, and not taking into account your operating expenses, the relationships you build with your customers, or the value of your time, service, and expertise.

Cost-Based Pricing: With cost-based pricing you add up the costs of everything that goes into making your offering (including your time) and add some profit to arrive at a price.  This is where small businesses fail. They don’t add enough profit because they don’t account for the unexpected like having to fix a mistake or not having time to pamper each and every client.

Pricing is tricky, but if you create a demand for your products and perform excellent customer service and thrill them, I promise pricing will become easier.

To get more tips on pricing, marketing and branding a small business that can charge what you’re worth download a free chapter of my New York Times Best Selling book, Worth Every Penny: Build a Business that Thrills Your Clients and Still Charge What You’re Worth at www.wortheverypennybook.com/try-a-chapter.

Sarah Petty is a New York Times Best selling author of Worth Every Penny: Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth. Her photography studio was named one of the most profitable in the country by Professional Photographers of America after just 5 years in business. She has an MBA and teaches marketing for small business owners s at The Joy of Marketing (www.thejoyofmarketing.com). To grab the consultation form that Sarah uses with new photography studio clients, go to www.thejoyofmarketing.com/sellmorephotography.

Sarah Petty is a highly-acclaimed speaker, author, MBA, boutique marketing expert and the founder of The Joy of Marketing. You may follow her and learn more via her accounts on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

read more

Guest Post: Defining Your Client

by: Angela Proffitt

I recently spoke at the ISS (Inspire Smart Success) conference in Cancun Mexico and had the opportunity to meet some incredibility talented planners and other event professionals.  We all share the same goal-to make couples happy and provide them with a positive experience.  We are all so busy wrapped up in taking care of others, that we don’t stop and take care of ourselves and our business, which for most of us, is our baby (if you own your own business)!

Defining a clear process and clarifying what type of client you work best with were two of the things identified that are a common challenge for new wedding and event professionals.  I shared my favorite apps and time management techniques and programs on my MAC that I can’t live without:)  It is shocking to me how many of us have iPhones and Apple gadgets, but don’t know how to use them, simple because we don’t have time.  I promise you, if you take the time to learn these products, it will save you time in the long run.  Being the tech geek I am, I had so much fun helping everyone.  Dropbox and Google Drive were the two apps that have changed my business (well and Pinterest!).

Reviewing various personalities with the group and talking through their “ideal” client, further helped the participants define who they are, what they are selling and who should they be selling to.

These are just a few things to ask yourself as we enter a New Year, 2013.  Does your marketing portray this message; and are you attracting the perfect match!?

As a leading respected professional in the market, Angela Young Proffitt has been planning and producing weddings and events for many years, nationally and internationally. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology. Knowing she always wanted to help people, her projected path to pursuing psychology working in mental health was no longer her passion. Following in the footsteps of her uncle, who spent over thirty-five years in the wedding industry, Angela has since established herself as one of the most dedicated, well rounded, most proficient multi-tasking experts in the industry. Drawing from her psychology background, Angela has experience in working with a variety of personalities, to which her common motive is always focused on what is best for her clients. She works with elite wedding specialists to create, design, implement, and execute every fine tuned detail in order to paint the unique vision each client desires. Her hands-on organizational approach combined with her impeccable ability to build relationships has propelled her above and beyond the average professional. Realizing her skills and talents are best utilized in logistics and communication, Angela’s company, Elegant Weddings by Angela and Events by AP, offers a full service wedding and event planning team that is experienced, detail oriented and exceptionally organized. Her unique and incomparable approach extends beyond the highest level of creativity and she prides herself on managing each innovative personal detail to allow you to enjoy your engagement while adhering to privacy requests. Known for her calm demeanor and flexible nature, she specializes in travel and destination weddings allowing her to utilize her strengths in creating a “one of a kind” experience in lands far away. Her travel resume has carried her to breathtaking places. Just to name a few, she has traveled to St. Lucia, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Antigua, Cabo San Lucas, Playa Mujeres, Playa Del Carmen, all the way to New York city, the coast of Florida and to the foothills of North Carolina. So whether it’s a destination wedding on a tropical island or a Derby themed wedding at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Angela’s sense of personalized vision and educational guidance creates incomparable events for any occasion. Angela’s highly touted work can be seen in such global publications as Art of Celebrations, Grace Ormonde’s Wedding Style Magazine, Elegant Bride, People Magazine, Us Weekly, Enchanted Brides, In Focus, Style Me Pretty, and Country Weekly, just to name a few. Alongside acknowledgements in world-class magazines, Angela has also served on the board of TWESA, and has won such accolades as Best Wedding Planner in Nashville, along with voted Best Investment, Personality, Coordination, and Can’t Live Without.
read more