Regroup & Reset: My 3-Step Process to get you Back on Track After a Setback in your Photography Business with Lisa DiGeso
Picture this: You just got out of the shower, towel wrapped around your head and in your cozy clothes. The doorbell rings and when you answer, it’s not a delivery driver… it’s a client with their tiny baby ready for a photoshoot. Well, that exact situation happened to me, and as mortifying as it was, it was also the catalyst for me to implement new systems and get organized so a similar situation would never happen again.
The thing is, when it comes to business, we all make mistakes sometimes. Scheduling errors, miscommunications, and even technical or hardware issues come up, but they’re all opportunities to grow and to learn from.
So in today’s episode, I’m walking you through my process for how to get back on track once you’ve made a mistake, how to assess the situation, and then how to implement solutions so you don’t get stuck in the same situation again! Remember friends, at the end of the day, we’re in control of our business, and we’re in control of how we respond to mistakes too.
What’s in this episode:
- [01:21] Why making a mistake is an learning opportunity
- [02:24] Lisa’s mortifying experience of being unprepared for a client and how this was a catalyst for her to change her business systems to prevent a similar problem from happening again
- [04:42] How to assess mistakes, miscommunications, and the circumstances that created them so you can keep a similar problem from happening again
- [06:43] How to regroup, refocus, and look for growth opportunities (and NOT vent on a Facebook group)
- [09:27] Why you need to take action by implementing new systems or pivoting your business, so you never have to repeat some of these tough situations
Tune in to this episode so the next time a mistake happens in your business, you’ll be ready to get back on track!
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[00:00:02] Lisa DiGeso Welcome to the Art and Soul Show where we dive into heart opening chats on photography, business life and that messy in between. I’m your host, Lisa diGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the Art and Soul show.
[00:00:45] Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show. Today, we’re going to be talking about a topic that all entrepreneurs and business owners or photographers can probably relate to, and that is when you face setbacks or mistakes or oops, these are just really those uncomfortable situations in your business and how to get on track after they happen. Now, maybe it’s a session that you neglected to put in your planner, or maybe it was miscommunication with your client on pricing. Maybe it was a client that was unhappy with a gallery and you’re just really not sure where to go from there. These are really common things that happened to many of us. I’ve honestly experienced a lot of those.
[00:01:21] So in today’s episode, I really want to share with you my tricks and tips on how to recover quickly and treat these as learning opportunities and not to beat yourself up about them. Now, the truth of the matter is that with discomfort you may want to just ostrich your head in the sand. But to be honest, it’s essential to growth, especially business growth. It’s how we learn. It’s how we figure out where the cracks in our businesses are and really what policies we need to make. Now, having a business accident or just something that’s really uncomfortable can honestly make you feel like you’re totally alone and you’re the only one that’s ever done it or ever happened to, and you just beat yourself up about it. And you wallow in this pit of shame thinking that you’re a bad business person, maybe a bad photographer, and everybody else gets it but you. But my friend, that is honestly not the case. We all have bad days. We all have lessons and mistakes that we learn from, and those are how we actually are able to create the policies so we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes and that same pattern over and over.
[00:02:24] Now, when I was first getting started, so this was maybe I was in business for about 2 to 3 years, I really resisted setting up a CRM or a customer management system software. I thought I could really stay organized with my day planner and everything was fine there. I was still doing everything really by hand, writing it down. I was sending out all my emails by hand. I was not doing counter responses at that point and to be honest, there were really not a lot of systems that I had in place at the time. So when I had a client show up a day early for her session, I thought that was actually the following day. I was still coming under the shower with a towel on my head in a bathrobe. I was answering the door thinking it was a FedEx driver with a package that I forgot that I’d ordered. And she’s standing there on my front step with her brand new baby. I was mortified, so I didn’t know if it was my mistake or her mistake. But I knew that as a business owner, I needed to take care of her right then and there. So I invited her in. But my friend, oh my gosh, my studio was a complete disaster. I didn’t have a process that was post session when I was checking off my boxes or cleaning the session right after. I still had blankets from the session the day before and soiled blankets even in there. I know super cringe from the day before. It was not an optimal situation at all. The studio wasn’t even heated yet. So honestly, friend, this was a mortifying, shame filled experience that I promised myself I would never, ever put myself in that situation ever again.
[00:03:55] So unfortunately, we sometimes really have to hit business rock bottom in order to create our boundaries and our systems that prevent us from inadvertently or advertently sabotaging our own success. When we have systems in place, it makes things go so much smoother and it’s so much easier to stay organized. Just even by creating simple checklists will help you stay organized. You don’t have to think every single session when you’re setting up or even tearing down when you create these processes, it’s so much easier to stay organized. When you’re able to stay organized, your brain’s not full of all these things that you have floating around your head, these unwritten to do list that you’re actually able to think so much more clearly and you don’t have to rely on your brain so much. So that means you’re more creative.
[00:04:42] So to recap, the first thing to do when you faced a setback in your business, honestly, is to take a step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself what went wrong? What can you do differently next time? It’s important to understand the root cause of the setback and figure out what you can do to prevent it from happening again in the future. Ask yourself, are there certain systems that I can put into place to circumvent this from happening again? For example, maybe you end up in an awkward situation with a client because they’re not clear on your pricing. That awkward situation could be because they thought the session fee was the only price and it was including all the digitals because it wasn’t clear to them or they didn’t understand the language you were using or the speak or the terms that you’re using to describe what they would be receiving.
[00:05:28] Sometimes we flower things up, but clients don’t actually understand what we’re trying to tell them. 99% of the time when we have a pricing disconnect or an issue regarding what something cost and what the customer sees or what they’re expecting, it comes down to a miscommunication. And so in order to come back from that, it’s an opportunity to say, okay, why did this customer think this? Why did they think they would be getting all these things included when I had put something different? And how could I make this more clear? According to Brené Brown, it clear is kind, and I would absolutely agree with that. Or maybe it’s something that they need to sign off on when they’re booking. So is that included in their contracts that they actually understand your pricing model when you have them sign that? Are you even getting them to sign it or do you have model releases and all the legal things that you might need to have? Like, are you missing those steps? It also really depends on the business model that you have. So when you do come to create that kind of business model or anything around your pricing, it is super important the client knows exactly what they’re going to be getting for the price that they’re paying. Otherwise, there is going to be a miscommunication. And it’s your job as a photographer to figure out where that breakdown is and to make sure it’s not happening for other clients.
[00:06:43] The next step, my friend, is to regroup and refocus. I know setbacks can be overwhelming and it is so easy to want to lash out and blame the client to run into a Facebook group venting and expressing your frustration. Now, to be honest, my friend, I really, really, really do not recommend this and I’ll share my reasoning why on that shortly. But what is most important is that this is an opportunity for you to take responsibility and to grow and to see why your actions or your wording could have contributed to the situation. Is that post venting on the Internet actually going to make anything better? Honestly, probably not. 99% of the time you’re going to get a photographer letting you know that it’s your business and your responsibility to create a clear kind and ethical business. And sometimes that’s really hard to hear, too, because if you’re looking for a yes, that sucks. And the client was a jerk, my friend, don’t post it online, please, friend. You also never know if that client is someone in the group sister, cousin, friend or maybe former client too. The internet is forever. So don’t let that temporary feeling of frustration and anger leave you with a permanent reputation of someone who talks smack about their clients and doesn’t take responsibility for their own mistakes. If you need to vent, call a good friend. But I promise me you’re only going to regret if you posted on the internet. I’ve seen it happen countless times now, my friend, before you take any action, think about it and say to yourself, Is this moving me towards or away from my business goals? And if it’s not, maybe it’s time to carve out that path. It does.
[00:08:18] So if you’re like me and you’re someone who maybe has resisted getting super organized, creating yourself systems and processes and checklists. My biggest advice is to take all these mistakes that you are having and write them down and say, okay, yeah, this happened. Yeah, it sucks, but what can I do about it? And what systems can I put in place to create a system that I’m not going to break and I’m actually going to follow? Now, the honesty of it is it’s important to not let these tough situations defeat you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself why you started this business in the first place. Refocus your attention on your goals and your objectives and figure out what steps you need to take to get yourself back on track. Embrace these business growing pains because I know they suck. But if you think of your business like a baby learning to walk or crawl before they run, they’re going to trip up to go easy on yourself, but learn from it. One mistake doesn’t make you a crappy business owner, but if the same situation keeps happening, you need to identify why, why This has become a pattern. And if it’s hurting your business and not helping it, you need to figure out how you can stop it. Refocusing will help you regain your sense of direction and help you stay motivated.
[00:09:27] Now this brings us to our third step. Taking Action. Once you’ve identified why the breakdown was maybe it was not having a system and backing up your cards and you accidentally deleted a card before editing it. Or maybe not having a CRM that has auto email sent to the client. Or maybe it was making timelines that put way too much pressure on you and you need to adjust your business practices. Now, there was a time in my photography career that I would put everything on hold right immediately after a session. My family could not even talk to me and I would put so much pressure on myself. You get my client or sneak peek within one hour. This created so much stress in my family and on me that was absolutely unnecessary. Once I changed my business practice and let my clients know that within 72 hours they would receive a text sneak peek for me, and not within that one hour I felt like I could breathe. So sometimes it’s just those simple things that were adding so much extra pressure to ourselves that we don’t realize once we change. Life is all much better now. My biggest advice is really Don’t indulge yourself in victim mentality and staying stuck. It’s not going to help you. It’s not going to help you go after your goals. Tough situations are going to happen, but what matters most is not that they happened. It’s what you learn from them that does.
[00:10:45] Finally, don’t be afraid to pivot your strategy if necessary. Sometimes setbacks are just an opportunity to reassess your business model too, and try something new. If you’re hitting roadblocks, it could be time to pivot your strategy and maybe try a new approach. Embrace change and also be open to new possibilities. My friend, remember, you are the boss. You get to decide what kind of business model you want to have, the clients you want to serve when you want to work, and the kind of art you want to create. Don’t forget you’re the one in charge. So there you have it, my lovely friend. When facing setbacks in your business, take a step back, breathe, assess the situation, regroup and refocus and then take action. Remember, setbacks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey, and how you handle them can determine the success of your business. Stay positive, motivated, keep learning and growing, and keep pushing for it. I am sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day. We’ll see you next time. Have you ever wondered how some people seem to effortlessly connect with their clients? My guess is that they’re using their unique superpower to their advantage. When you allow more of you to shine through, good things can happen. Now discover your special superpower with our handy dandy quiz at TheMilkyWay.ca/quiz.
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