mature: completed, perfected, or elaborated in full by the mind.
Only those with a truly mature business mindset can honestly evaluate both their strengths and potential weaknesses then have the bold confidence to act upon them. I urge any of you running new businesses to look in the mirror and conduct your own internal analysis. inc.com
As we look around the marketplace today, we see a flood of new photography businesses, most of them running out of their homes and most of them female. Their studio is the neighborhood park and their sales room is a bench in that park. This fall, as we were photographing a senior in our neighborhood park (a special request from our client), we witnessed this scenario happening right in front of our eyes. I happened to be waiting for our client and saw a young woman photographing a high school senior girl. Lighting was never thought about and the poses were sloppy and as I watched, I wondered about this phenomenon that is happening around the globe, not just in our back yard.
As I stood there, I wondered how long this young woman would be in business. As hard as it is to get a start up business into successful territory, keeping a business going year after year, decade after decade, is MUCH more difficult. In fact, most businesses are no longer open that were in business twenty years ago. Although there are many factors to successfully operating a business and keeping it going year after year, I want to talk about one specific idea that we became aware of years ago and that is envisioning your business as a mature business, even from the beginning.
Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, saw his company as it would be before it was! He imagined it fully developed and mature when it was not! Learning about him completely changed the way we thought of our studio years ago at a pivotal time in our business. He laid out 3 reasons IBM was so successful even from the beginning.
- Tom Watson had a clear vision of what IBM would look like as a finished company.
- Tom Watson knew how IBM would need to act as a mature company.
- Tom Watson began to act that way from the very beginning with a template he had in his mind.
He said, “We didn’t do business at IBM; we built one.”
After reading about Tom Watson, we started having weekly planning meetings, even though it was only the two of us back then. We made this decision 25 years ago and today, we still have weekly meetings where we talk about the upcoming week, future marketing plans, work that needs to be done that week and any other item that needs to be shared. I believe these meetings have kept us on track all of these years.
In addition, we understood that we needed to look mature and as we developed sub-brands under our Walden brand. For our Beau Visage sub-brand (the paintings), we spent a year prototyping samples, perfecting the printing and creating a distinct logo and colors in order to message that we have been doing this “forever.” We even had a tea importer create a designer Beau Visage tea just for us. When you look mature, people feel comfortable with you. Nobody likes to be the “first” customer!
While prototyping, we tweaked our vision and solved issues we didn’t realize we would have. Though we wrote our vision out in detail, the reality always plays out a little differently and we wanted to address that before we opened the doors to Beau Visage. When Beau Visage came online, it looked as if it had always been part of our business. Maturity!
In the book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber makes an interesting statement when talking about starting a business. He refers to three distinct types of people and their strengths. The first is the technician who lives in the present saying, “What work needs to be done today?” The second is the manager who lives in the past saying, “What could we have done that would be better?” The third is the entrepreneur who lives in the future saying, “I have the vision for the future. What if? If when?”
For those of you just starting out, be sure to envision your business as a mature business and avoid the pitfalls of many who haven’t thought out the future. Be fully developed. Have a plan and follow the plan, but be flexible to change the parts that don’t work as you thought.
Follow your dream, but use a map!
Have a great week, everyone. Bev