“The next five years of your life will be determined by the people you meet and the books you read.” – Dave Ramsey
Most creative artists – photographers included – don’t have a natural business bone in their bodies. So instead of being artists first and businesspeople second, oftentimes they’re artists first and second – and businesspeople never – when, really, to be able to do what they love over a long period of time, we should all really be businesspeople first and creative artists second. The problem? That doesn’t come as naturally to us as we think it should. In reality, though, business is a learned behavior just like art. Sure, there’s an element of God-given talent involved, but that’s just part of it.
We tell photographers all the time that no one was born with “an eye” for photography. We were all born with two eyes that function exactly the time as everyone else’s. Our eyes have been trained over time to know what we want and like, and what we don’t. It’s a lot of trial and error – and trial by fire – but we persevere because we love it and we want to get better and better. No one came out of the womb knowing how to hold a camera and use it well, and no one was born with a better business brain than someone else. They worked for it, just like you did with we all do with our art.
But here’s the thing, as photographers, we only spend about 20% of our time shooting (if that). The other 80% is dedicated to either working in our business (the day-to-day running of things) or working on our business (growing it for the future). So that, of course, begs the question: if we’re spending 80% of our time on business, and our business is what lets us do what we love, why aren’t we spending more time learning about business?
Maybe we think that if our photos are good enough, the business will run itself. But it won’t. Maybe we’re scared. Maybe we feel inadequate. Maybe, just like money, nobody ever talked to us about business, and we think it’s too late. Well, friends, we’re here to tell you that it’s not too late! It’s just time to start. You can’t become a business guru overnight, but you can make a 15-minute commitment every day that’ll put you in the top few percent of businesspeople in the country.
We’ve heard that the average millionaire in America reads at least one business book per month, and at around 300 pages per book, we’d only have to read 10 pages per day to do what millionaires do. And, if we can just pull one idea from each book that’ll keep our business from falling forward and instead move it forward, that’s twelve improvements to our business that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. And, when you consider that only 2% of businesses survive ten years, at 120 new business ideas over the course of a decade, you’re probably a lot more likely to still be standing when everyone else has long since closed shop.
You might be thinking, That sounds good, but I don’t even know where to start! We can help with that, because we’ve already done some of the work by reading some of the best business books out there for you to choose from!
So, here’s your challenge for this week: choose one book from our recommended list and either buy it or get it from your local library. Then, read 10 pages every day for 30 days. Write your ideas down or find someone to share them with, and see at the end of the month if you feel weaker or more empowered, less confident or bolder, brimming with new ideas or the same as you were a month earlier. Our bet is that you’ll feel energized, pumped up, and ready to tackle another book that’ll give you the fuel you need to run the engine that keeps your art alive: your business.
Keep calm and read on, friends.
Here’s the list of 10 business books we recommended in Step 3 of our Making the Leap blog series and still love to this day:
This is the ultimate book for anyone on the fence between their day job and their dream job. It’ll change your outlook and help you make a smart transition from one to the other. Plus, the author’s really funny, so turning the pages is actually pretty fun.
If you wanna get fired up about business and life, this is the book for you. You’ll wanna attack every day and chase your dream. Did we mention we love Jon Acuff?
If you need a clear, straightforward business book to get you started, this one’s for you. Dave breaks down the playbook of how his business went from a card table in his living room to a multi-milion dollar company and one of Nashville’s best places to work.
You’ll think differently after reading this book. You’ll always be thinking of ways to stand out from the crowd and cut through the marketing noise to reach your audience.
Seeing example after example of companies who were almost identical until one surged ahead is an incredible lesson in being better than average. If you only read this book for the boulder analogy (you’ll know it when you see it), it’ll be worth your time.
Don’t cry when you read this. We almost did. Okay, let’s be real, Amy totally cried. And that’s exactly what we needed, a reality check, a kick in the pants, and a challenge. Every good business needs systems in place so that things don’t fall through the cracks. Approach it from this angle: How does this apply to photography? You’ll be just fine and come out with such valuable wisdom that it’ll make the tears worth it.
If you want to get excited about loving and serving other people, this is the one to read. Powerful stuff.
Time management! We cut our cable and stopped reading the news for more than a few minutes per day after reading this book. The principles here will save you time at work and get you more time doing the things you love.
The oldest book on our list, and perhaps one of the most important! You’ll learn how to uplift people in this book by taking the focus off yourself and putting it on other people.
If you’ve ever had a “case of the Mondays,” then pick this book up. It’ll help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and find vocational freedom.
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