10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017

10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017

10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017 with Laurin Thienes

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Welcome to 2017. For some of you, it may feel like the photography world is closing in on you, and closing in fast. But as we start the new year, if you have ever felt that you are like a fish out of water in this wild and crazy industry, there are ways to stay away from that feeling the world is collapsing. Hopefully, one or all of these 10 tips for keeping your head in the game will help you create your best year yet.

Keep a sharp pencil.

It seems simple to record your expenses and your income for your business, right? Wrong. The number of conversations I have with photographers who do at least one of the following is staggering: keeping a separate business bank account, mixing personal expenses with business expenses, not knowing profit margins, thinking they’re making money when they aren’t…. The list goes on. Running into financial issues creates the wrong kind of stress, both personally and professionally. There is a simple way to avoid it: Know where your money is going. It doesn’t need to be a complex model. Just tracking your income and knowing whether or not you are profitable is half the battle.

Cut out the cancer.

This topic alone could fill a book. Let’s break it down with this one simple sentence: Remove the people from your life who hold you back and are not helping you get to where you want to be. I feel like I should be yelling that statement from the rooftops. Every entrepreneur has people around who are negative, who are jealous of your successes, and who love to rub salt in the wounds of failures. You don’t need these people around you. It’s a simple test to ask yourself: Are you a positive person in my life? If yes, they can stay. If no, cut the cancer.

Make “laser focus” the new standard.

I’m an artist with attention deficit disorder. Focus is not my middle name. Hell, focus is barely in my vocabulary. And I know I’m not alone. Laser focus has to be a priority. Focus on your mission every day. Set your goals for the year. Then, once a month or once a week, refocus those goals. As part of your daily morning routine, reflect on what you will do that day to further those goals. And stick with it—no matter what else is going on, no matter how big or small the task, always be doing something to better your business.

Shoot for yourself.

It’s easy to get into a routine where the only work you shoot is paid work. Making money is all fine and good, but making images for you can be creatively liberating. Maybe it is test shoots to try out new poses or conquering off-camera flash. Maybe it is getting a press pass and shooting a college sporting event. Maybe it’s setting up an elaborate fashion shoot. Whatever the concept is, shoot for you. The most successful pros in the world make time to shoot for themselves. This sets the stage for honing your skills and advancing the quality of your work.

Create a yearlong project.

This idea is not for everyone. A yearlong project takes shooting for yourself to a whole different level. This is where planning, concept and technical skills all mix and are taken to the extreme. Think visual art. Think conceptual ideas. Think thought-provoking imagery. It can really boost your skills and vision. Perhaps this even turns into a gallery showing at a later date. Any publicity is good publicity.

Upgrade your gear.

Everyone wants the newest, greatest, most expensive toys. But it’s easy to forego buying new equipment because you don’t “need” it. While I am the king of justification, sometimes adding a new lens or lighting equipment can be a boon to your business. Can that new piece of glass help you think differently? Capture different images? No, you probably don’t need it, but it might force you to leave your comfort zone and create things you never thought possible. Purchase something that you normally would not think you would use regularly, such as a tilt shift, fisheye or Lensbaby, and challenge yourself to use it on every shoot.


Come on, you knew this was coming. I love outsourcing. But surprise, I’m not just talking about outsourcing your post-production (yes, do that too!). What do you do today that distracts you from your business? Do you really have to spend two or three hours on yardwork each weekend, or is the few bucks you pay the neighbor kid a better use of your time? Should you be trying to manage all your bookkeeping/accounting needs, or is that better left to the professionals? How much time would that save? Can that time be reinvested in your business? Recognize the value of your time, and focus on things of bigger value—both quantifiable and nonquantifiable.

Invest in your brand.

Does your website look like it was made with Geocities? It’s like a bad dad joke, but many photographers and business owners have not embraced the 21st century. What about your logo? does it look like it was designed in Microsoft Paint? Whether you have a big or small budget for a new logo or website, these two things can almost always use an upgrade or refresh. As you look inward, are there other things that can change your client’s experience? Better packaging? Betting communication? Better products? Just because it’s what you’ve always done does not mean it is the correct or best way.


The first part of the year is always full of great trade shows and conferences. I’ll shamelessly plug ShutterFest as one of these. Go there. Have conversations with peers. Play with gear and products you would normally not be able to see, touch or feel. Most importantly, create a network of people you trust, a network of photographers you can ask questions without feeling awkward. To network, you have to push through your shyness. Your local chamber of commerce is a good place to start. If not there, many cities have small-business groups that you can get involved in to meet other small-business owners. Draw on their experiences, and, who knows, you might find your next whale client.

Invent a better you.

I’m not a shrink and I don’t necessarily buy into the “me day” mantra. But what I do know is that all of us can always become better people and better business owners. Communication with those around me is a constant cause of tension. It is easy to put all my energy into the business day to day, but then fail at communicating elsewhere. I strive every day to improve my communication skills.

Learning (and sticking with) fundamental business skills can be life changing. Even though change is hard, learning these new skills will help you become a better version of yourself. Can you be a motivation to those around you? Can you learn the skills to become that motivation?

Hopefully you are able to apply some or all of these ideas to help focus and shape what 2017 looks like for your business. I apply them every day to myself and my business. Some I apply better than others, and I constantly strive to better those weaker areas. Each year that passes gives us more time and experiences to reflect on—to look inward at what went right, what went wrong and how we can come out the other side better.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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