In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2013. We are delighted to introduce Chris and Tim Riley. These gentlemen are salt of the earth Mainers and the owners of RPG Keys and Riley Photographic. Chris and Tim will be teaching a class on Lightroom Workflow

My name is Tim Riley and along with my brother, we run three different businesses. In short, I am entrepreneur-erly confused. But with running three companies comes the need to be efficient in what I do. At inspire I will be teaching Lightroom and a great time saving workflow.  But this article is less about anything overly techy and more about a philosophy that I like to keep in mind as I run my business. Before I ramble on for a 10 minutes, grab a pen and paper to write a few things down.

No really.. Get of the couch and get a pen!

Okay… On that paper, write down 5 things that you enjoy doing with your free time. For me the list goes like this. Come on…. just play along with me!

My list includes:
#1. Skiing
#2. Golf
#3. Playing with my kids and wife.
#4. Fixing up my old home.

Okay…. On that same piece of paper, write down the five things in your business that will ensure that next year is going to be a more profitable year than this year.    Don’t be lazy, just write it down already….

My list includes:
#1.  Learning how twitter can help grow my business(s)
#2. Doing more Boots on the ground marketing and networking.
#3. Creating a babies and family portrait program W/ local churches.
#4. Becoming better as in person sales
#5. Direct mail marketing to seniors.

Look long and hard at your two lists. Everything you do in your business should be based around these two lists. By this I mean, what decisions can you be making on a daily basis that will give you more time for list #1 and also setting you free to focus on list #2 that will ensure growth.

Its not a simple answer. Its a state of mind that if you can embrace, your business with sky rocket and you will be able to spend more time with your family, skiing, surfing or playing golf and next year you will have more clients.

Here are a few examples to ponder.

#1. Over Editing My Photos.
Are you over editing your proofs before a print sale? The answer might be “no”. But it might also be “yes”. As photographers we tend to be emotionally connected to our images and often we do too much too them and the result is neither an increase in sales or client satisfaction. The other extreme is doing too little. So what is the right balance? Consider talking to a “successful” photographer in your town and bribing them with a rack of beers to come over and edit your most recent family portrait shoot. Stand over their shoulder and watch the choices and edits they make. Your skin might crawl. But remember that you asked this person for their opinion and you pre qualified them as being successful. So what? So the edits they make are not wrong, they are just different than what you would do. The point here is that your sales from these edits would likely be similar to their sales and yet both edits / version are unique. Take this little gem and consider if your spending too much time editing those images to death. Perhaps you can do less edits, make the same money and free up some time?

#2. Print Fulfillment.
Personally I hate paying a commission to a print fulfillment lab. But the days of me selling $3k worth of reprints from a wedding are over. Back in the day (I sound old saying that) we used to have a staffer fill orders. They worked near full time and all they did was fill orders. Now that this part of the revenue stream is dried up a little, we cut our time investment and pay a lab a small fee to do it for us. Its just one less distraction to our daily work so we can focus on List #1 and List #2.

I am the guy behind the RPG KEYS which is all about saving time. So naturally I am always thinking of ways to do things faster, better and more profitably. As business owners and photographers, I think you should be thinking the same way. Yes your an artist, but your competing with every over shmuck with a camera and a website. Its time to focus on either the things you enjoy doing or on the growth of your business. Everything else is just a distraction.

My 2 cents.