using the GPS approach to change

by Joy Vertz

I’ve gotten some questions about an article lately and they sounded something like this: Your ideas are great, but why would I make all these changes to my business when I have so many other changes piling on me anyway – I can’t keep up as it is! Are you crazy?

Well, maybe. But lets leave my love affair with iced butter rum chai out of this, okay?

Look carefully at that question again. It highlights something that’s really important to think about when you’re looking at where to go with your photography and your business: there are two basic types of change.

There’s the change that we plan (business improvements, goal-setting, re-designing a studio space, buying new equipment, etc.) and then there’s the change we don’t plan (new competition in the same market, changes in vendor offerings and prices, the economy in general, etc.).

using the GPS approach to change photo
*image by Sarah Wilkerson

It wasn’t until I was using my phone’s GPS function to find my way around town that I really thought of a great way to explain my approach to both types of change. After all, that’s what GPS does, right? It helps you implement the change you planned, but accommodate the changes you didn’t.

Here’s what GPS can teach you about change (both in your business and in your art!):

  1. You’ll have a lot harder time getting anywhere if you don’t input a destination. One of the major points in my article was this: if you’re giving your business a ton of time and creative energy, it should be giving something back. What is it that you want? You might want a huge payoff or just a way for your family to take a long vacation over summer break, but you need to identify your goal if you want the reward of getting there.
  2. There’s more than one way to get to there. From the very beginning, you can decide what’s important to you. Taking more time to enjoy things? Staying away from hectic situations? Getting done quickly so you can enjoy other interests? Knowing what motivates you will help you plan the route that’s right for your goals and interests.
  3. Getting off track isn’t the end of the world. Coming up on a roadblock is frustrating, but it doesn’t mean that your car has crashed. It’s just a matter of taking time to find another route – sometimes it takes help to get back on track and that’s fine!
  4. Having accurate information is a lot more helpful than guessing. I can’t imagine how lost we’d all be if GPS was just taking a stab at getting us to the right place. Take the time to do your research: what products, services, time slots, etc. are most often sold or asked about? What types of sessions are getting the highest sales? What types of work are losing you the most money? Get data! Knowing is half the battle, G.I. Joe.
  5. It’s completely okay (and good for the soul!) to take scenic detours, but they’re so much sweeter when you don’t get lost in the process. The thing I love best about my GPS is that it helps me find my way back when I want to wander around a little. I’ve been involved in tons of creative endeavors – outside of the studios – that nourish my adventurous side and feed my soul. Because I planned well, my business has been structured to sustain me and my client base while I wander for a bit and come back. It’s really great to have stability while still being able to try new things.

The bottom line: Make use of opportunities to steer the change in your business and art. Good planning will help you navigate the hazards and roadblocks as well as letting you take scenic detours when you need them.

using the GPS approach to change photoJoy Vertz, Wisconsin
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Joy’s photography experience starts more than a dozen years ago. From a one-person shop run out of her basement, Joy has grown her studio, Shoot the Moon Photography, into one of the premier studios in the region. With two locations in Mequon and Delafield, Joy and her staff now handle more than 700 shoots annually and have clients across the nation. Over the years, Joy has found that she has a particular fondness for numbers and strategy. So many of the things that she first thought were up to chance in the photography industry can actually be put on paper and changed using strategy and thoughtful decision-making, not luck!

Read all photography business advice from Joy Vertz.


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2 Responses to “using the GPS approach to change”

  1. Nov 23 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    What an inspiring post… now my wheels are spinning and I need to make some plans!

  2. Nov 25 2013 at 8:25 am #

    what an interesting perspective, joy! love this analogy!

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