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When I first quit my corporate job to go full-time with photography, I was *certain* I would fail.

I mean, I didn’t think it would happen immediately.

But in the back of my mind I was sure this whole photography thing would fizzle out after a few years, and I’d be left to find a new job.

I was insecure because I wasn’t running my business like a business.

The only yearly planning I used to do was a casual New Year’s Resolution-style list of “what would be fun to accomplish this year?”

(And then, of course, said list gets tucked away and forgotten about until November, at which time I’d despair over not having checked everything [anything] off.) 😳

⬇️ This might be an unpopular opinion, because I know as creatives and artists we love to think that if you “do what you love, and the money will follow,” but here it is:

If you run your business like a hobby or a side gig, you will struggle to find profit and sustainability. 

I wanted my business to run for as long as >I< wanted it to run- I didn’t want to burn out because I worked too hard for too long for too little.

My husband joined as my business partner in 2015, which finally forced me to put on my big girl CEO pants. Getting started was rough, but we eventually found a system that works for keeping us organized, on track, and dreaming BIG!

(And not just dreaming big, but actually accomplishing those pie-in-the-sky goals.)

Yesterday was our year-end planning meeting to wrap up 2021 and set goals for 2022- it was 3.5 hours of reviewing our numbers from this year, calculating next year’s goals, and then mapping out how and when we’ll tackle each of those big goals.

We’ve moved way beyond the New Year’s Resolution-style of goal setting I used to do. And as a result, I couldn’t feel more confident going into 2022! So today’s blog post is written for the 2015-version of myself, because while I knew I needed more structure, I didn’t have any idea what that looked like.

In the past, we’ve waited for the first week of January to begin planning for the year, but I always end up feel like I’m already behind. So this year, we slotted out year-end meeting for the last Monday of our work year (we take off two weeks for Christmas & New Year). This means come January 3rd (first day back in the office), we can hit the ground running!

These are the tools that are ESSENTIAL for us to plan out our year:

Traction, by Gino Wickman- this book outlines how to run a business like a business. It’s a bit dry, I’ll tell you now (not one of those feel-good, “it’s up to you to manifest your success” kind of things). Ever since we started following the method outlined in this book, things changed DRASTICALLY. With the practical structure Traction teaches, we started meeting goals like never before- we’re more focused, and looking towards a new year no longer feels overwhelming. Can’t recommend this book enough!

Powersheets– I use these on my own (Matt doesn’t do them with me), and they’re more geared towards habits I want to build and the sort of person I want to become. Powersheets are monthly goal-setting sheets, and I use these to help keep me focused on growing as a Jesus follower, mama, wife, friend, etc. I love how the monthly sheets are perforated for easy removal, and I tape the new sheet each month to the wall just behind my desk!

This year-at-a-glance, downloadable calendar by Kat Schmoyer. It’s only $9, and we send ours to FedEx Office to be printed + laminated (poster-size) so I can write on it with dry erase markers. It’s on the floor as we plan out the next 12 months, then it gets tacked to the wall in my office where it stays all year. We use this calendar for noting the bigger picture stuff on the calendar- brand shoots, speaking gigs, outlining launch plans, client travel, vacation, etc. Day-to-day meetings and appointments go on our Google calendar to keep the year-at-a-glance calendar as de-cluttered as possible!

Trello– once we have our yearly plan nailed down, we decide on a series of 5-7 quarterly goals (again- read Traction! SO much of our process is from that book!), and those goals are entered onto a Trello board, a project management software. Trello helps us make sure our quarterly goals trickle down into our weekly plans, which them get walked out in our day-to-day work. (Bonus- Kat Schmoyer, the author of the calendar linked above, offers a bundle of Trello templates to help you get started!)

There’s no magic bullet for productivity, but this combination of tools is what I’ve found that work best for keeping us accountable to ourselves!

This blog post contains one or more affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you choose to click through and make a purchase. I only ever recommend products I’ve thoroughly tested and loved!

Planning your photography business for 2022 | Abby Grace

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