Using 2020 Lessons for 2021 Success

Episode 142 on the Business Bites Podcast

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The year 2020 has brought about many changes in the way businesses operate.

In order to survive, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs have the foundations of their businesses set up in a way that allows for quick pivots especially when the outside environment is constantly changing. Learn from Bryan Caporicci of Sprout Studio how to set that foundation and to get some tips on ways your business can diversify.

Bryan and Rachel share many ideas that entrepreneurs, especially photographers, can do to keep money coming in the door. But how do you open up these new lines of revenue? 

  1. You’ve got to refocus your energies on relationships, and you have to make sure that you build empathy into everything you do in your business.
  2. You have to differentiate what you do.
  3. You have to focus on guiding and serving others.
  4. It’s really important for you to get organized through all this.
  5. You’ve got to diversify your revenue streams.

As you start moving into these new spaces, it’s important to recognize that it’s ok to be imperfect. Everyone is trying to figure all this out at the same time. At the end of the day, those that are genuinely trying to help and leave a positive impact in their communities and circles will be the ones to survive. 

I think, especially now in 2020, especially now moving forward in the next five or 10 years, diversity is going to be the name of the game. Like figuring out, how do you take your skillset and apply it in an entrepreneurial way? That is name of the game…there’re so many things when you start to look at, what are your skills? What do you bring to the table?

Bryan Caporicci

Learn how to use the lessons learned in 2020 to build a stronger business in 2021: 

  • How to evaluate your business model [9:16]
  • How you can use your business to help other businesses [16:05]
  • How to take the steps to pivot your business [26:10]
  • Why it’s ok to be imperfect [30:02]
  • How to open up new income streams when you know others are struggling financially as well [37:23]

Read Episode Transcript

Rachel Brenke:
There’s no denying that 2020 has been a complete wreck for so many people. But I believe in entrepreneurs, I believe in resiliency. But I get it, you are so overwhelmed right now, and you may be feeling the crunch of finances, not being able to see people, decline in business, but guess what? There is a way that you can spend time working on your business right now, adding on different ways to make money, diversify your business. And so, I am bringing on one of my friends and colleagues that is an industry leader to help talk through this. While the episode is a little photographer-specific, it can be applied to all sorts of businesses. I share a bit about myself, what I’ve done this year. Bryan, my guest, also does with his business as well.

So, join us, let’s do this. Let’s set ourselves up so that 2020 can be in the rear view mirror, we can move into 2021 with the lessons that we learned this year, diversifying, simplifying, and growing our business to success.

Speaker 2:
Welcome to the Business Bites Podcast, the podcast for busy entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an online entrepreneur or seeking after brick and mortar success, this podcast brings you quick bites of content so you can learn and grow anywhere you are. Now, here’s your host, Rachel Brenke.

Bryan Caporicci:
You’re listening to the Business Bites Podcast. You obviously know how important it is to be successful as a photographer. And, hey, I get it. My name is Bryan Caporicci, and I’ve been a professional wedding and portrait photographer for 15 years. Seven years ago, I had the idea for what is now Sprout Studio. Sprout Studio is a studio management suite that gives you everything you need to run your business in one place, a CRM, galleries, email marketing, scheduling, bookkeeping, and much more. 2020 has been hard, and we want to help you get back on your feet. That all starts with getting organized, streamlining your communications, and leveling up the customer experience that you give to your clients. This Black Friday, for the first and the last time ever, you can save 30% for up to three years with Sprout studio. And you’ll also get a redo 2020 package.

We’ve basically built a photography business in a box for you, with all the tools, templates, and strategies to help you reset 2020 and start 2021 on the right foot. We’ve already helped tens of thousands of photographers around the world with all of this, and we’d love to help you too. The best part is that you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to make an impulse decision on this, hop on over and start a trial now, so that come Black Friday, you’re confident in your decision. Visit sproutredo.com/podcast to learn more and make 2021 your best year yet.

Rachel Brenke:
Hello, friends, welcome to another week of the Business Bites Podcast. I am thrilled for this topic because it is something that I had wanted to bring to the forefront. I mean, come on, we all want to redo 2020 and get our business better than ever in 2021. I have my friend, Bryan Caporicci, who is an award-winning photographer based out of Canada. He is the host of Business of Photography Podcast, which yours truly has been on and also teaches workshops. And is the CEO and founder of Sprout Studio. He is such a smart, thriving, successful entrepreneur, and I’m just thrilled, Bryan, for you to come on and let’s chit-chat about this topic.

Bryan Caporicci:
I would like to say that I’m excited. I am excited to be on, Rach, but not to talk about this. But we were given lemons of 2020, so, I guess we’re here to make some lemonade today.

Rachel Brenke:
Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m excited not that we’re in these circumstances, but I’m excited there are possibilities. And we’re going to go into all these steps, but mind shift, looking for different opportunities that are available. Because like you said, we have lemons, you want to make lemonade, I want to make a lemon drop martini, whatever your drink of choice, it’s what you’ve got to do, it’s what you’ve got to do with 2020. But before we dig into that, give us just a little background into your entrepreneurship journey, and then we’ll dig in.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah, for sure. I have been a professional photographer for 15 years. And the funny thing about all of that is, I actually started my photography business, Rach, before I even owned a camera. So, I started my business, it was called Memories in Motion back in the day, this is like 2005, 2006, when digital was kind of a new thing, so, we called it Digital Memory Preservation. That’s fancy word that we made up back in the day. And so, I registered this business, and then literally the next day, I walked over to Henry’s, a local camera store, and I said, “Hey, I started a photography business, so, I need to buy a camera.” And so, I then worked my way obviously forward from there.

But the difference for me anyways, is that I always looked at what I do as being an entrepreneur first, and being a photographer second. Photography just happened to be the space that I was in, but I always looked at myself as being in business first. And I think that’s how I was able to achieve the success the way that I defined it through my career now of 15 years.

Rachel Brenke:
Yeah, that’s incredible. And by the way, if you’re listening to this and you’re not a photographer, there is still going to be plenty of information to glean from it, we are just going to give you some very photography-specific examples, and you can apply it over into whatever industry you’re in. But in line with what you were just talking about, Bryan, we want to look at these opportunities and see what’s available. I feel like oftentimes as creatives, we have a tendency to not open the mind up and look around, and we’re very trying to stick with creating and passionate, but then on the business side of things, falling into normalcy. How do we even embrace and break out of that, since we’re kind of forced to right now?

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah. I mean, it’s one of those things, creatives love the thing that they do, and they don’t love the business of the thing that they do. And that’s unfortunately what I’ve seen over the last eight months is that, I mean, that’s always been the case, Rach. You and I, we’ve been talking about that for a long, long time. You’ve got your podcasts, I’ve got 440-some odd episodes of ours, it’s a topic that’s always been front and center for so many of us. But I think that the current 2020, this year, shone the spotlight on it a little bit, in the sense that those that maybe hadn’t planned that way or hadn’t thought that way, or hadn’t built the right business model, it sort of agitated that problem, I think, for a lot of folks.

And so, I think really, it’s not too late because it looks like 2020 is going to spill a little bit into 2021, I think. And so, it’s not over, we’re still going through this, and the recovery is going to be very grand. And the sooner that you can get your head into a space of thinking about how can you shift your thinking? How can you shift the way that you deal with your clients? How can you shift your business model? The sooner you can do that, the sooner you can get to a better place with your business.

Rachel Brenke:
Yeah. And it’s interesting, throughout this whole thing, I had done all my own episodes, I’ve gone on other podcasts, and I’ve been very hesitant, but I’ve been standing firm in what I’m about to say, in that I feel like there are silver linings that come out of COVID when it comes directly to the impact on businesses. Because, if you look around at many successful entrepreneurs, yourself, myself, many of our colleagues, we’re doing and have been doing things in the past that have led to a fairly, I would say, fairly pandemic-proof, not that it’s been perfect and easy, but because we had already adopted certain type of business models before, it was more of a seamless type transition. Doesn’t mean it was easy, but it was more of a seamless transition.

And for me, it’s going to sound weird, but I get excited for seeing many, especially creatives, getting forced and pushed out of their box to do these kinds of things, because there’s other benefits than just surviving a pandemic. There’s the benefits of being able to set themselves up for success in the future. We don’t know what the future holds inside of COIVD, outside, or just what your life circumstances might change on a dime. And so, for me, as this process has gone along, I’ve been, I don’t know, it just sounds so weird to say, but I’ve been excited for what can happen on the other side, for those that do, like you said, embrace new business models. So, what would you suggest on how even to sit and look at your current business model?

Or, well, maybe that’s the better question, when we’re looking at trying to make changes, should a listener who’s sitting here ready to take notes, go, “Okay, do I make a change on my current business model during a pandemic, or should the framework start with how it was prior and then move into this area?”

Bryan Caporicci:
I mean, I think we need to start working with what we know best, which is probably for most of us, the space that we’re currently in. And I believe that in any space, again, like I’ve been teaching a lot to photographers, but again, these principles can apply really in any area. If we look at what we do, I love the sort of construct of looking at this whole box that you’ve just talked about in the sense of, yeah, we definitely need to step outside of the box. Because 2020 has kind of taken that box and punted it across the field. Right? It’s like, “Hey, look at that.” Yeah, it’s a dumpster fire. And so, I mean, it is what it is.

And I think the sooner that you as a entrepreneur, as a creative, as a maker, as a photographer, whatever you are, as soon as you start thinking outside of that box, there’s a lot of opportunities there. Now, that might mean a big shift. I mean, maybe it means starting a new business. Who knows? But maybe that doesn’t have to be as dramatic, if that doesn’t feel like it’s the right move for you. I think that there’s a lot of opportunities even within your own space, you just have to start looking at what you’re doing a little bit differently.

Rachel Brenke:
I want to touch on something you just said right there, because I had my own gut reaction as a photographer and being in the photography space as well. There is this big perception or feeling that if a photographer, and this is from photographer photographer, not from photographer to client or so forth, but there is this feeling in the industry that if a photographer turns from just doing photography, and all of a sudden they start teaching, or selling presets, or do graphic design, or open up another business entirely to have multiple income streams, that they’re not a real photographer at that point. And so, I feel like there’s resistance, especially when getting this recommendation, even though that’s almost the way out of the box here.

Bryan Caporicci:
How dramatic should I be with the answer to this one?

Rachel Brenke:
Do it, do it.

Bryan Caporicci:
I think the thing at the end of the day is, and this is something I’ve believed in now for a long, long time, and again, I think the pandemic has just agitated it, this whole idea is going to turn a lot of people off, but this whole idea of like only do one thing and only do that one thing really well, I don’t think it’s ever worked. I think maybe in concept, in theory maybe. It’s been one of those things that the few up on stage could say, “That’s what you should do.” But then you also look at their revenue stream and say, “Well, yeah, but how are you making money? You’re not making money doing that anymore, you’re making money teaching that now.” So, I don’t think that that works.

I think, especially now in 2020, especially now moving forward in the next five or 10 years, diversity is going to be the name of the game. Like figuring out, how do you take your skillset and apply it in an entrepreneurial way? That is name of the game. Now, that might mean selling presets, making courses, doing education, writing templates, whatever. Or it could just mean, hey, if you’re just a really, really good photographer, what other skillsets do you have? You know composition better than most people, you know lens choice better than most people, you know perspective, you know lighting, you know angles, you know posing.

Well, could you get into video maybe? Could you get into visual coaching? Could you get into styling for other people’s videos and ad campaigns? Could you get into stock photography? Could you get into helping people livestream things? Could you get into teaching local photography classes? Could you get into helping with website design? Could you partner with a web company and say, “Hey, I want to help you guys help your clients make better websites because I can now give advice based on photography, and composition, and color comp, and color harmony, and all those things”? There’re so many things when you start to look at, what are your skills? What do you bring to the table?

Most of the time, if I were to ask a photographer, “What’s your skill?” They’d say, “It’s photography.” I’d say, “No, it’s not. What is your skill?” And I think now we have to dig deeper into that. We have to understand what is your skill? What do you bring to the table? And how can you help people with that?

Rachel Brenke:
And I think it’s important that we put this on the table, before y’all jump into writing this whole list, what I think is wonderful, Bryan has said, put your skill out there, write a list. Get a piece of paper now and do it. But understand, we’re not encouraging you to go and open up seven different income streams right now and make it happen.

And going back to what you were saying earlier, this whole mindset of have one thing, do it well, and only do that, I feel like those that pre-shoot should only have one, just haven’t either reached what they needed to, they haven’t mastered that one to open up the space, to open up another one, or maybe they just didn’t have the balls to move to another income stream, add on an income stream as well, is… And I feel like I am kind of one of those, and I say this humbly, who has built in these silos, where I build in one industry very well, and then I go, that is then maintained, I keep that income stream, and I move to the next industry and do the same thing.

So, I guess I want to caution to those listening, don’t go, “Okay, well, here’s 10 different really good skills I’m good at, I’m going to go create 10 different income streams.” You’ll be the jack of all trades, master of none at that point. I feel like you can master one at a time to build that up. Do you agree with me, Bryan, or you’re going to push back? And I’m good for the pushback.

Bryan Caporicci:
No, you know what? I mean, I would agree in the sense of like, Rach, you don’t do photography law. That’s not what you do. That’s not your skillset. Your skillset is giving entrepreneurial advice, and giving education to creative entrepreneurs, and giving legal input on things, helping them build systems, build proper processes and procedures. That’s what you do. And so, yeah, you can go into really any space and do that. You can go in and do that in the form of a podcast, in the form of a template, in the form of a course. And so, that’s, I guess, more what I mean is really looking back and digging deeper into the root of the skillset, into the root of what you’re actually good at doing and how you can help people, and figuring out how does that get applied? And yes, that doesn’t mean that you go and launch like eight different law businesses in eight different industries all at once. For sure, you have to build it at the rate that you can build it obviously.

Rachel Brenke:
I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah, it doesn’t work, right? But that’s the thing is, I think so many people often just, they put themselves, again, and coming back to that box, they put themselves in that box, photographers included, photographers just saying, “Well, look, I’m a wedding photographer.” And I say, “Yeah, but who’s to say that you can’t also do portraiture?” And maybe if you already do portraits, who’s to say that you can’t offer an influencer package? Or who’s to say that you can’t offer a recurring revenue stream for portraits? Why couldn’t you offer a family portrait plan? Or why can’t you pre-sell packages? Or why couldn’t you do gift certificate? I mean, there’re so many different ways. I mean, you can even stay in your space if you’re a photographer, for example.

You could stay in your space, but just pre-sale things, or do subscriptions, or do event style, or do mini-sessions. There’re so many other ways that you could just start to think about the idea of generating revenue, even if it is in the same space.

Rachel Brenke:
I’m sitting here sketching this out obviously for notes for us to have for everyone on the show notes page, but I’m seeing the path and trajectory because even for myself at the beginning of COVID when everything was locked down, which as we were talking pre-show, and Bryan’s in Canada, I’m in the United States, we’re looking like we’re facing towards that again, I had many friends who had reached out to me and they would say, “Well, I need new photos. My photographer can’t photograph right now because we’re shut down, it’s illegal, it’s against mandate.” And so, I was finding myself being like, “Okay.” Because these are not photographers that I’m helping, that were coming to me, they’re people that are trying to hire photographers, but they needed photography insight to take their own photos during lockdown.

And so, that to me is another great income stream, because I see many influencer online personal brands who are not photographers that need help. Talk to them, you could walk them through what kind of lights do they need to take self-portraits, et cetera. I mean, I just see this broad range. If y’all feel like you haven’t heard many ideas, you need to pause, go back, because Bryan’s probably given you like 30 ideas already of things that you as a photographer can do, just like that.

Bryan Caporicci:
Well, and the thing too that’s interesting is, and I have been teaching this for a long time through the pandemic, we launched this whole thing called First Aid, which was just a resource dedicated to helping photographers through this, but you have to also think like, “What are other businesses struggling through? What are other people struggling through during this?” I kept using the examples of like, well, restaurants, restaurants obviously. I mean, I feel so horribly for restaurants during these times, because, I mean, gosh, that can’t be easy. I even think now going into wintertime, when restaurants here locally, I mean, we’re in Canada where we get snow, and so, you can’t even have patios anymore in the wintertime because it’s too darn cold. So, their business is going to drop even more.

But how could we help them as photographers? If you’re a photographer, how could you help them? Well, they need all of a sudden now to have an online store for people to order takeout, or they need photos for those online stores. Well, they need to start building a social media presence, and maybe they hadn’t done that before because there were some local mom and pop shop and had never really gotten into that space. Well, could you help them with that? Or, could you help them with photos of their delivery drivers to fill up their Uber Eats profile properly? I mean, that’s just one very, very specific example, but why couldn’t you help in that space for that industry?

And what I’ve been recommending to photographers and to any entrepreneur is, virtually, in your head, I guess, mentally, put yourself in your car and drive around your local area and look everywhere. Look left, look right, look up, look down, whatever, there’s people everywhere that can use your help. How can you help them? And just do that drive, and you’re going to be like, “Oh, there’s that yoga studio, and they’re probably now having to shift to doing online yoga. They don’t know the first thing about cameras, and livestreaming, and posing, and this, and lighting. They don’t know anything about that stuff.” You could help them. What about the local gardening shop? What about the local restaurant? What about the winery?

What about that family that just got laid off, the breadwinner of the family got laid off, and now all of a sudden, he’s trying to teach sales through social media because he wants to be an influencer now, and he lost his nine-to-five, but he doesn’t have any photos? He needs some lifestyle shots, he needs some headshots, he needs some photos of him and his kids for social media. There’s so many different things that you can think of, as soon as you take yourself out of that box that we had otherwise put ourselves in.

Rachel Brenke:
And it’s interesting, and I’m sure you’ve done the same, as I’ve talked to many photographers, and just actually entrepreneurs in general to see how they’re pivoting, because actually in the very beginning of COVID, like I said from the very beginning of this, and I hesitate to say, but I’ve been encouraged to see the changes that so many entrepreneurs in large companies are making, and I loved watching in the beginning like how was Edible Arrangement started doing delivery of an actual whole fruit as opposed to just their fruit and chocolate they were offering. Because they had all this produce that they still needed to sell, and it was a better way to do it. I know our local, this really fancy restaurant downtown, I’ve never had been serviced in restaurant, sorry, I try to support them, so, what we did during pandemic was, they were selling, because they had all these contracts for suppliers, they had all this meat that needed to be sold, and we had the best pork chops possible.

And one of the good things, and I guess I’m bringing this to the forefront is, you’re looking it from how can you business to business standpoint, but you can also consumer to business standpoint. I made connections with some of these businesses because I tried to help, still help them survive during pandemic, and just made sure that I reached out to them by social, encouraged them, so that when pandemic ends or business comes back around, I’m in the forefront of their mind. They remember that I’m the lawyer that’s the office right down the street, that also helped them during pandemic, because I knew that they needed support, and I needed to eat. I guess just looking at it from a variety of perspectives is so important. I do want to back up real quick because, and maybe you can help me sparse out the buckets here, you were talking originally a little bit about what are some of your best skills? And what could you offer?

So, we were looking at, all right, maybe a photographer, you could also do like all this consulting, et cetera. Then there was another bucket of still offering like photography services. I know I’ve seen many photographers who shifted from portraits to now doing product shots. Having the product sent to their house, photographing the products for these online shops, et cetera, because FYI, even if that’s something you don’t necessarily want to get into for the long-term, it can help you in the interim, but if you were looking at getting into like commercial photography, this is a good way to dip your toes in. Because I am really encouraged and hopeful that many of these businesses, you’re talking like the Uber Eats profile, the online shop, and so forth, I don’t think any of that is going away.

I talked to many fitness business owners who said, “No, we still plan to do our online fitness even after we’re opened back up in person.” So, that is something that you can either look at this as a short-term gain with a local business, or you could be facilitating for a longterm business relationship with them as well.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah. I think that’s actually really important, and a lot of folks haven’t thought about the fact that all these things that we’re pivoting and thinking about and talking about, and these different things that have changed with businesses, I think it’s just paving the way for where things are going. I think that folks are going to be a lot more aware and conscious of health regulations, and they’re going to be a lot more conscious of where they go, and who they’re going with, and what their safety and health precautions are for it. And all these business models, I see online shopping going up, I see so many businesses needing to adapt and continue to adapt to that. And so, I think these things that we’re doing now, almost quickly to be like, “Oh, how do we survive?” That’s going to just become the new norm as we move forward, I think.

Rachel Brenke:
Which I actually thought of something while you were talking, think about it, everything went virtual. I mean, I don’t even know the statistics, but like Disney Plus, Hulu, Netflix, everything went through the roof, online social members are up. What is it that everyone’s looking at on social? Pictures, video. They’re at visual elements, visual aesthetics. Y’all got this in the bag. So, for me, I’m just thinking outside the box, I know for me, I was talking to a birth photographer, who was like, “Well, I don’t even know what I can do. I can’t go into hospitals.” And I was like, “Girlfriend, let’s just take two seconds and look at this.” She ended up doing some photography once they came outside the hospital. The whole like following them, putting the baby in the car, taking them home.

She couldn’t go into their house obviously, but could document that. She moved into the space of doing a lot of photography for Etsy shops, or any of just like these pacifier rattle toy type that don’t necessarily have to be Etsy-confined. But just for me, it’s like, just think of what you can add, because I know that there’s this fear of, “Well, if I’m a wedding photographer, why would I be offering commercial photography?” Well, you don’t have to go from like wedding photographer to all of a sudden doing product shots of, I don’t know, tennis balls. You could do it for, there’s invitation designers that are still needing photography. They’re still trying to pump things out because weddings are still semi-happening. Look how within the field of what you’re already offering as a seamless transition.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of parallel spaces that you could go into. But I think even too beyond that, my argument is to encourage those listening to drop those chains that you might feel confined to. And I see this all the time, again, like you say, Rach, with like, “Well, I’m a wedding photographer, why would I get into doing families?” Well, because you want to keep food on your table. That will be why you do that. Because right now and moving forward, doing that one thing only may not be a viable option. And, hey, if it is, and if you can make it work, I’m happy to be wrong on that.

But I think that so many people in so many industries right now, and again, I talk about photography, we’ve got to let go of this whole like, “I do this one thing and only this one thing,” because I just don’t think it’s a sustainable way of running a business, especially during a global pandemic.

Rachel Brenke:
So, we’ve given them, them listening, the path here in a way. You’ve given them a bunch of these ideas. So, how do they take the next steps to actually implement and move into these spaces? And I think the theme in my head as we’re talking I’d keep thinking about is money, got to have financial resources. Some people just are not making ends meet right now.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah. I see five buckets, Rach. I’ve thought through and I think a lot of these things can really be boiled down to five different categories. And obviously, within each of them, there’s hundreds and hundreds of ideas. But the five categories are this, I’ll run through them. Number one, you’ve got to refocus your energies on relationships, and you have to make sure that you build empathy into everything you do in your business. That’s huge. I think relationships are going to be the number one form of currency moving forward. So, you’ve got to make sure that you’re being empathetic and that you’re focusing on relationships in your business. Number two, you have to differentiate what you do. You can’t just be a me-too person anymore, you’ve got to really think hard and long about what makes you tick, why someone would choose you over somebody else. So, you have to differentiate.

Number three, you have to focus on guiding and serving others. I think that’s really important because for so long, especially in the photography industry, photographers have always thought that they were the hero of the story. And I hate to break it to you photographers, but it’s not about you, never has been about you, but I think now it’s even more obvious that it’s not about you. So, you have to start thinking about putting your clients first. Number four, it’s really important for you to get organized through all this. Because as you start to break into other spaces, explore other revenue streams, take on other kinds of clients, if you’re not organized, you’re going to start to let things fall by the wayside. So, get organized. And number five-

Rachel Brenke:
I’m going to interrupt right there. Hold on before even the number five, I want to add on to that.

Bryan Caporicci:
Do it.

Rachel Brenke:
Organize also include your legal protection going into-

Bryan Caporicci:
Oh, 100%.

Rachel Brenke:
… going into this space.

Bryan Caporicci:
100%. I guess when I say organized, I don’t even mean like physical structural organization, but like, dudes, get your systems in place, get your workflows in place, get your templates in place, get your contracts in place. Oh, my gosh, if there’s been anything ever in business that’s been like a smack in the head to be like, you better have good contracts. It’s been 2020. 2020 showed up and says like, “Get your stuff together.” Anyways.

Rachel Brenke:
And I’m over here, I’m once like Kermit meme with the tea, I’m like, “I’ve been telling y’all this for years, but I’m still going to help you.”

Bryan Caporicci:
For sure, for sure. So, number four, yeah, get organized. And number five, which has been the theme of this whole conversation this far is, you’ve got to diversify your revenue streams. You’ve got to figure out how else can you earn money, how else can you make money in ways that are potentially non-conventional, in the way that you’ve thought about your business before.

Rachel Brenke:
And I love that because, and this is something that I’ve been learning is that go with the low-hanging fruit. So, with number five in diversifying, you don’t have to come out the gate with like a perfectly polished product or service. You don’t have to have a perfectly polished social media presence and website, et cetera. Does it help? Sure. But just getting it out there. And I almost, because I’m hearing many clients say this, because I’m on that end where I’m seeing the legal issues y’all are having, and I’m also hearing the heartbreak of decline in income, et cetera, and my heart goes out. So, when you’re looking at how can you add something on, just know it doesn’t have to be like probably what you thought before.

We had to come out gangbusters and perfect, use it to the mindset of as, “How can I get some quick cash in the door?” Now, I’m not saying go out and do whatever you can for cash, I’m just saying, okay, you come up with this idea of, like what Bryan was talking about, what is your best skill in this? What do you want to offer as another income stream? You can low-hanging fruit do it. Let’s take like the consulting example that you gave earlier, Bryan, and I threw mine in too, but these businesses need help on how to do lighting and streaming and this sort of stuff, you could easily just put it out there and do a 30-minute call, just pay 30-minute call, and then you could then move into having packages. You don’t have to come out the gate with everything perfect.

Bryan Caporicci:
Well, it’s actually funny, because as you were saying all that, I wrote down in this space, because I know how so many of us think where we have to make this like perfect little package that’s just perfectly perfect in every way. It’s like, no. Okay, maybe traditionally, that’s the way that you want to run your business. You’re type A, you want things to be all lined up and your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted, but 2020 is the year of the imperfect. That’s what it’s all about. And I think right now, it’s more important for us all to be humans, and we talk to people from one human to another human. We’re all in this together. I think that’s more important than this polished perfection.

That doesn’t mean that you show up wearing your sweats and you look like a slob, I just mean, I mean, that might be what you look like on a Zoom call, that’s okay. As long as you have a business shirt on top, it’s all good. I’m wearing sweat pants right now, but I got the nicest shirt you can imagine. But that’s okay. And I think that’s one of the things, as we were going early days on in helping photographers figure out some new revenue streams, we actually launched, Rach, I don’t know if you saw or not, but we launched, I don’t know, 50 different email marketing campaigns pre-written for photographers, that basically gave them, with a click of a button, the ability to send out these emails and make money.

And in all of them, in all of them, the vibe was not like, “Look at me, I’m a professional photographer, and here’s this polished opportunity that I’ve created just for you, Mr. Client, or Mrs. Client.” No, it was instead like, “Hey, look, 2020 has been hard and it’s affected everybody in different ways. I’ve seen yoga studios move to doing online yoga, I’ve seen restaurants move to delivery. And I thought, ‘Hey, as a photographer, I should start offering something a little bit different too.’ So, Mr. or Mrs. Client, here is something that I thought of for you.” And all of them had this transparent, very open, very honest, very raw, but not too raw kind of feel to it. And I think that’s okay for 2020.

Rachel Brenke:
I think that’s what 2020 needs. And that’s one of the things, the pushback I’ve been hearing from many different entrepreneurs, and especially photographers is, “Well, if I add on something else, am I going to confuse my ideal client? Am I going to confuse my clients?” And it’s like, no, it depends on how you approach it. Plus, everyone’s pivoting right now. Everyone.

Bryan Caporicci:
You know what’s going to confuse your clients the most? And this is, I can’t even say this seriously, the thing that’ll confuse your clients the most is when they think that you’re this high-end wedding photographer, and they go to get their Starbucks drink and they see you serving them your venti caramel brulee, whatever the heck it is. And they say, “Hey, what are you doing there at Starbucks?” And you say, “Well, I’m a high-end wedding photographer, and that’s all that I do, but I’ll work for $7 and 85 cents here at Starbucks, because I refused to do portraiture.” It’s like, no, get your head out of the sand, people.

Rachel Brenke:
I thought you were going to say something else in that too, but yes, it is true. And Bryan and I are not sitting here from like this ivory tower. We’ve had our own pain points this year. For me, the word of the year was simplify just between personal growth, COVID, and I have multiple teams that I have to financially support, especially since many of them were photographers, their businesses have gone down, et cetera, like mine. The income that I pay them is even more important. And so, we understand the struggles of this. I just feel like you and I and many entrepreneurs who have been thriving, not just surviving, but thriving through pandemic, had already put this kind of stuff into place prior.

And so, I want to share that to say like, again, we’re not speaking down and judging y’all on this, I just want to see y’all embrace this. I just want to see the changes. And get out of the fear. And if anything, if 2020 has done nothing but push you outside your comfort zone, good, get out of that box, get uncomfortable, because I want to see the changes, because then I… It’s funny, I’m getting on my own soap box here, and so, you know what? I feel like we have to have such like this polished presentation, we don’t want to confuse people. I actually am looking around, not judging, but looking around at so many entrepreneurs, and I know they’re struggling. But their online presence looks perfect, and I’m thinking, “But you’re not doing what needs to be done right now.”

But those that are imperfectly doing what needs to be done, I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, they’re doing it.” And I’m not confused. In fact, I have probably more faith and trust in them in anything that they’re going to put out in the future.

Bryan Caporicci:
Well, and I think, again, to not be ignorant to the situation, I mean, if you’re a business and you’ve got any kind of audience, and as an FYI, we all have an audience, right? I mean, you have your clients, no matter how big or how small. If you’re a business and you’re leading through this and pretending like nothing is going on, that’s going to do, I think, more harm than good. I mean, I think it’s okay to just show a little bit of vulnerability and sort of, it’s okay to be openly and publicly figuring this out as we go. Nothing wrong with that. I know for us at Sprout, I mean, literally, Rach, you said simplify, our word of the year has been pivot. Our year, 2020 has been pivot after pivot, after pivot.

And for us, it’s all been with a tilt of trying to do anything and everything we can do to help photographers, because it has been such an uncertain year, and because so many photographers typically don’t have that entrepreneurial hat. We’ve been trying to do things like this to just help photographers through it. And that’s okay. Again, we don’t have it figured out. We’re trying to help you figure it out while we figure it out too. And that’s okay.

Rachel Brenke:
Well, and I think that’s the thing too, this is not the time to have this perfect plan like we mentioned before, but definitely don’t. I’m the MBA, I’m the business consultant, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I want to see like a 300-page five-year plan. This ain’t the year for it.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah. No, there is no five-year plan. I think there was like this barely a five-

Rachel Brenke:
Five-day.

Bryan Caporicci:
… a five-week plan.

Rachel Brenke:
I’m with you. Well, we’re recording this just before U.S. Thanksgiving. This will be rolling out the week of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. So, who knows? By then, we might be in lockdown again. I hope not. Sure, we hope not. But the writing’s on the wall, and so, we just have to make the plans for it. So, I think this is such a good timely episode for us to have, for everyone to sit and take notes and really take action. Now, I mentioned this earlier, something that is nagging at me a little bit is, I always feel bad… No, let me rephrase that. I don’t feel bad asking for money in business. I do feel bad sometimes when it’s in this middle of this pandemic, but I struggle with this. I know a lot of people don’t have money, and I’m pitching them my services and products.

And then the other side of it is, but I also have a family and mouths to feed too. I don’t know, what would you advise those listening, who may be excited, “Okay, I want to put out these income streams”? Let’s take the restaurant example, trying to reach out to these restaurants, well, we know they’re struggling, but how do you overcome that hurdle of, “I know they’re not financially doing well, how do I pitch them for money?”

Bryan Caporicci:
So, if you can think back to those five buckets that we talked about, I think of the third one, guiding and serving others, and focusing on other people. I think if you’re trying to sell ice to the Eskimos, then I agree. It’s like, “Come on, now is not the time.” Like, now’s not the time for the snake oil salesman. And that’s not, I think, what you or I are advocating for here. I think what we’re saying is, if there’s a way that you can help other people, if there’s a way that you can genuinely help other people. I think of the local greenhouse, I think of the local restaurant, they are struggling. And if you can help in some way keep them afloat, think about the impact that that has on them, and then the trickling effect that that has on all of their employees.

And I’m not saying that you or I or anyone listening here is walking around with a cape on, but what I’m saying is that if we can help other people, and by proxy, that helps more people, and that helps more people, and that helps more people. I mean, to ask for money in exchange of that is not a crime. We’re helping people. We’re doing something that has a genuinely positive impact on the local community, on the employees, the local folks, their customers, the owners. So, there’re so many ways that you can look at that. But I think that if you’re going at it with just the intent of, “How do I make money quick?” Well, that’s the snake oil sales approach. I don’t think that that works today. But if we look at it through the lens of, “Well, how can I help other people using the skillset that I’m uniquely qualified to help?” Then I think that there’s a lot of ways that we can think of of helping, without it being slimy.

Rachel Brenke:
A few things on that. One, I do have my cape on, thank you very much. No, I’m just kidding. Sweat pants, we’ve established that. But, no, I’ve had some nasty social media messages, and actually, there’s been a major uptick in them on Facebook ads, in the inbox and such, and I don’t take it personally, I attribute it to real life circumstances, world’s situation, mental issues. That’s a whole nother conversation we could have. So, this has not been good for many people’s psyche and just mental state. Why I don’t take these personal. But sometimes I still take a pause when they’ll go, “You’re just preying on us during COVID.” And I’m like, “But here’s the difference, I’m not trying to sell you something that you don’t need, I’m trying to sell you something and just trying to help you.

When I said simplifying earlier, the other half of that is simplify to serve. We had all these offerings, and this year, we really evaluated, and I think we might’ve done it anyways, but we really stepped back through the lens of COVID and said, “What can we do to serve people?” And that’s how we simplified things specifically at TheLawTog®. That’s how we made this shift and changes of, “How can we meet these major goals?” One, well, we knew that education and legal supports were still needed, we also knew that a lot of income wasn’t coming in, especially at the very beginning during lockdown, so, how could we make it financially feasible for as many people to be able to serve them as possible?

And that’s how we shaped the offerings that we’ve moved to. Doesn’t mean it won’t change in the future, but that is how, if I had to respond, if I was going to respond to one of these nasty comments, it would be, “Well, first of all, you don’t have to buy from me. Second of all, you’re not forced to, but second of all, I’m here to serve. I could take this service and charge three or four more times for it, but I’m not. I’ve done it in a way to help serve to help you.” And I don’t say that from like, “Oh, pat me on the back,” but because that has been one of my goals of entrepreneurship from the very beginning. Making money is great, but it really was about serving and helping other people be fulfilled in their life, or, in 2020, helping them get through 2020 as well.

Bryan Caporicci:
Yeah, I think too, in a lot of these ideas that we’ve thrown around, and I keep going to this yoga studio example, or the restaurant example, or the greenhouse example, I don’t think that there’s going to be one formula that works for every single photographer or every single entrepreneur in any of these ideas. I think you’ve almost got to look at it too individually. I’ve coached and taught so many photographers through this, well, tens of thousands of photographers through this, and I’ve said many times, it’s like, hey, if you’re trying to come up with these ways that you can help people, and if you talk to the local restaurant and they’re just like, “We can’t pay for this right now. We don’t literally can, we can barely even afford to pay our employees. We can’t pay for their service.”

Maybe it makes sense just for you to be like, “You know what? I got you. Let me help you, throw me a couple meals maybe, help me out with my family, whatever, but I want to be there to help.” And I think if we approach all of this with that bucket number three, guiding and serving others, if we approach this with that as the primary focus, I think you’re going to find in the longterm, that benefits and the impact that this can have on you and your business will come around full circle.

Rachel Brenke:
Tell you what, I’ll do some photography or legal work for something like pork chops from that place downtown neighbor.

Bryan Caporicci:
There you go.

Rachel Brenke:
They are the best. And I love that you kind of nailed it on the head without saying, is getting creative. There’s other ways to get compensated. There’s things that are needed during this time. You do trades, et cetera. I think the key is finding what works for you. Is your goal to open up a whole new income stream, but you’re not necessarily pressed for cash? Great. Or maybe you’re someone who is like, “All right, the lights are going to be shut off soon, I’ve got to get some money coming in the door.” Then you’re going to have to scale back and see what are some ways that you can serve and also still make some quick cash? And that can change. Once you get your legs back under you, then you could shift back to, “How can I make this a long-term additional income stream?”

Yes, I’m excited because I think if y’all listening, and I say this really with love. You can’t see me, but my hands are towards the screen, I want to see y’all succeed and thrive through pandemic, not just survive. And I believe that as entrepreneurs, we’re extremely resilient. We got into this for a reason, and we have that fighting spirit. Do not let 2020 beat you down. Take some grace for yourself, but don’t let it beat you down. I think you guys can figure it out. And Bryan’s given a really good roadmap. So, this has been a good episode. Bryan, do you have any last tips for the listeners before we send them back out there to attack the rest of 2020?

Bryan Caporicci:
Oh, man, just take a breath, take a breath. I mean, 2020 has beaten everybody up in so many different ways, and at the end of the day, I think it’s okay for us to say, Rach, like for you, for us to just still like it’d be like, it’s okay if you’re down, if you’re not doing great, if you’re struggling, if it’s challenging. Or if it’s doing great, it’s like, congratulations, that’s amazing. But everyone’s going to deal with this differently. I think at the end of the day, the only thing any of us can do is just put one foot in front of the other. That’s all that we can do.

And if we’re worrying about what’s happening a kilometer down the road, I mean, there’s going to be a hundred forks in the road between now and there. Because that’s just the theme of 2020 pivot, right? So, take a breath, try not to let the stress overwhelm you, and just try to get to a clearer state of mind, breathe through it, and take one step at a time. And that’s really the only thing that we can do to work our way through this year.

Rachel Brenke:
Definitely. This morning, as I was getting around for my day, I realized how much I love the slower pace of Mondays in 2020. But that’s because I’ve been intentional with it. Used to be, I thrived on the fast-paced, get everything done, got to hop into work. And I was anxiety-driven, and just… It doesn’t mean it didn’t pay off, but when 2020 hit, this whole virtual learning from home and just everything, I restructured my weeks so that Monday mornings are not this, like balls to the wall, got to get going the second I wake up, and I just feel so much better when the week starts. And so, I do think 2020, at least for that, is helping me to become more focused when I do work, restructure my week in a way that really emphasizes what’s important. I’m starting to sound like a Hallmark commercial, but seriously, it’s true.

And so, I think that’s the big thing, just like Bryan said, take a deep breath. If we’ve ever learned what’s most important, now it is. If we’ve ever learned how to get automated, efficient, and focused, now’s the time to do it. And don’t give up this opportunity. And that’s something I keep telling myself is, even when the kids are driving me crazy, they’re screaming because they don’t want to log onto their virtual school, I say, “But I get more time with them.” So, love the opportunity, seize the opportunity that we have here, but recognizing we get it, like stress, finances, all that’s happening. Bryan and I believe in you guys, so, please go out, see what you can do to add on income streams, diversify.

As always, in the Business Bites Podcast Facebook group, we will have a thread dedicated to this episode. So, please come in there and share your ideas, especially for photographers. Since we were super heavy in photography-talking today, I’m going to throw some more ideas in there that I have as well for y’all, so, come join us, and I will talk to you guys next week.

Speaker 2:
Thanks for joining Rachel on this episode of the Business Bites. For show notes, a list of recommended tools, or referenced episodes, you can find them at businessbitespodcast.com. Until next time.

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Bryan Caporicci headshot

Meet Bryan

Bryan Caporicci is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. In 2014, he was awarded his Masters of Photographic Arts (MPA) designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), making him one of the youngest Canadian photographers to receive this level of achievement.

Bryan is the host of the Business of Photography Podcast with over 2 million downloads. He teaches at workshops across North America, including industry-leading conventions and conferences such as WPPI, Shutterfest and Canada Photo Convention. Bryan is also the CEO and Founder of Sprout Studio.

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Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

Now enrolling: RealBiz Accelerator[GET INFO]
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