If you talk to anyone who knows me, they will probably tell you that I’m not the most patient person. I get easily frustrated, I hate when I don’t know what’s happening. Running a business has been a learning curve, as patience is key when dealing with customers.
The first thing I’ve had to learn is that there are only 24 hours in a day. I always want everything to happen now, pursue all options at once, and already be 5 years from now. I had to learn to go through the process and grow my business step by step. As a small business owner, there is always something more you could be doing. No matter how much you work, it never ends. So you need to set priorities and focus on those.
There are only 24 hours in a day.
Patience is so important when you’re making decisions. You need to be thinking about the long game. Here’s an example: last year, a client wanted to buy the copyright to some of my images. Because it was a slow time of year, I went for the money and sold the copyright instead of licensing the rights to use the images. I made a quick buck, but it has actually hurt me in the long term. See, that client has never hired me again since. But other clients interested in the same images have not been able to purchase them from me, which has hampered my ability to start a relationship with these firms. I should have said no, and be more patient about the money.
Marketing to new clients has been especially difficult for me, as it can take months before something happens with some clients. In 2015, a client contacted me about possibly hiring me. They picked me among several photographers for their photography projects. It took about a year between the initial meeting and the first photoshoot. I ended up shooting two lucrative and interesting projects for them last year. When you’re talking to clients, you may have to talk to them 3, 4, 10 times before a project actually happens.
Without patience, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities for your business!
Even after you’ve been hired, patience will still be necessary. This is especially true with corporate clients, who have many other priorities. I shot a building for one of my clients last September and sent him the proofs within the next couple of days. It took 4 months for him to pick images. The entire process, from the first call to the payment, took 7 months.
Patience doesn’t come easily to everyone. I would know. But you’ll need it to run a business. The way I deal with it is by having several things happening at the same time. If one project is not moving forward, then I focus on something else. I’m also working on improving my follow-ups: my goal is to be more organized and to use phone calls more.