Monday, 10 January 2011

A reply to Lord Alan Sugar...

Earlier last week, Lord Sugar wrote an article in The Telegraph highlighting "home truths about how to succeed in business".

As the owner of a small business myself I read the article with a lot of interest, particularly at that time of year where everybody is doing their resolutions and the rest of us are coming up with a strategy for the year ahead.

The master entrepreneur laudably criticises business for their massive over dependence on the banking system.  As I come from a country where people rely on the banks on the absolute minimum, I completely agree with this argument, having never relied on the banks for anything unless the situation couldn't be tackled in any other way.  I feel playing around with credit is basically playing around with money that isn't one's own and if your budgets are tight and you want to be successful, do you really want to, or actually need to, tie yourself down?

I often hear of people who want to start a photography business with a loan, as if it is the amount of kit or how big your studio is will affect how successful your business is!!  I think we've all been on courses where people's first question is, what kit do you use? Are people confusing priorities here?  Carefully select your kit (and don't compromise on quality) and use your precious budget to improve your skills and get out of the mire of samey work we see published every day by the masses of generalist togs...  Does that piece of plastic seem so important now?

Time is the most important investment in your business.... period.  Time to think and time to plan a way forward is precious....

I'm also very much in agreeance with Lord Sugar where he talks about the fact that a business is "all about you".  The strength of a business is often dependant on the individual approach an enterprise takes.  If everybody took the same approach, copied the same style and packages, developed in quite a similar way and invested a similar amount of money (remember we are SMALL businesses) then clients wouldn't know what to choose.  The client will look at what stands out for them, be it pricing tier, creativity, versatility, location, approach etc etc...  How are you going to impinge your individuality on your business, why are people choosing you?  Is it because you appear on the first page on the Google search or is it really because people have fallen in love with your photography and are they impressed with your approach when you actually get to speak...  Be different, we're all different.  Competitors have a look at my work all the time, they copy my approaches, my packages... they can't copy what goes on in my head though and how I choose to move forward, how I take my creativity forward, there is only one of me! :)

Where I really struggle to follow Lord Sugar's argument is where he slags off networks for being the sort of thing make for people who need to be told what to do.  Of course there are different types of networks who deal for specific target businesses, and some are a lot more high powered and testosterone loaded than others.... however...

...as a photographer I feel the strength of business networks is not only about training or making business contacts (most people know about ten other photographers anyway), but it's about gaining confidence, knowing that it isn't just you that hits a brick wall sometimes and then after a while, looking back and seeing how much you and the other networkers have moved on, with each others support.  You get to meet some lovely people, some of which actually become friends, people who appreciate you as a person first and foremost, before all your skills and business expertise....

Finally, Lord Sugar, just remember, we're not all there to take, some of us are there to give!  :)

Antonella :)

PS look forward to your comments!!!



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