It is nearly the end of the year. And as such, it’s a time for reflection not only from a personal perspective, but also from a business standpoint. It’s been an interesting process, running a small business as my sole source of income. Balancing raising little kids (who are thankfully that much closer to both being in Elementary school together) with work commitments. Delving into topics I needed desperately to learn about.. like marketing and networking. And making decisions that could literally spell the end of everything, or the kind of success I’ve been dreaming about since I quit trying to fit into the corporate world.
Most people don’t realize that I’ve only been doing Studio portraits for only about 2 years (while I’ve been in business for about 6 years now!). And in many ways, I forget it myself, too. It’s easy to gloss over the successes and not realize that the hard work is starting to pay off. And it really is. Most of all, I am so grateful for all the clients I’ve had this year, new and old. It has always been the cornerstone of what I loved about my job - meeting and getting to know some of the most wonderful and impressive people in Fairfield County (and specifically Greenwich and Riverside). And as I strive to provide dedicated service and beautiful portraits for my clients, it is starting to be recognized within the Greenwich community. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Where I fell short
It’s interesting that even after so many years, I still change and refine my process.. sometimes fairly drastically. The biggest thing I realized was that I could serve my clients that much better by transitioning to a digital image review process instead of the printed one I was doing. It took a month of not meeting my numbers (by a long shot) to realize that I was spending way too much money on pre-printing photographs. And as much as I loved that way of presenting the final images, it had to change.
But in doing so, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
The printed products my clients can now choose from are much more catered to their needs. While before, there was really only one option (matted prints in a presentation box), we can now sit down and design an album, a wall gallery, or decide on a completely custom order.. which is all available for you to choose from. I learned that some families love to have a more compact way of storing their portraits (that’s the album, btw). And some really love to have them on display (with wall art!). And while it hurts to make mistakes and have to change things so drastically, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My goals for 2019
I won’t lie. It’s incredibly scary to set business goals. Especially when you set goals that you know you might not reach. But being comfortable with failure is something I had to learn, and relearn, over and over. For 2019, I will be hiring an assistant, who will be a partner in my business. Someone who will allow me to take on more clients without sacrificing quality or the time I am able to spend with each person. When you account for the in-home consultation, numerous phone calls with prospective clients, wall art installations, photoshoots, and all the in-person interactions, my client-facing schedule fills up the week fairly quickly. In short, I foresee needing some help.. because it’s incredibly important (to me, at least) to make sure that my clients are taken care of, always.
I will also be expanding the headshot segment of my business. Stay tuned for a redesigned website with more focus on the different specialities: family, newborns, baby milestone sessions, headshots, and small business photography. There will be quarterly “headshot days” and a more robust service for on-site office headshot photography, which can be done during the week (and goes right into being able to accommodate more clients, since my weekends are devoted to families).
Most of all, 2019 will be about finding balance. I know this is a cliché to say the least, but when you’re trying to grow a business, you tend to work 24/7. Allocating real time to family (not the kind of time when you’re checking email and spending half the time typing on the phone) is hard. It actually takes some dedication and planning, which is why my calendar is filled out with commitments well in advance (don’t worry, there’s also flexible time for any last minute matters).
And so, I am being hopeful. This has never been easy.. and I am grateful every day for the opportunity to work in this field. I am so thankful to everyone who has worked with me for the past several years and for everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know. For those amazing wonderful clients that choose N. Lalor Photography year after year. I will do everything I can to make it as easy, simple, and enjoyable as possible for you.. and if there’s anything you think I should improve, please by all means let me know! And if not, rest assured that I will be always be striving to improve every aspect of my business to better serve you. Here’s to a happy and successful 2019!