It IS a business after all – right?

The Coach doesn't play the game...

So many entrepreneurs – especially solopreneurs (entrepreneurs working completely in a void and by themselves) become the bottleneck in their business.

Whether it’s a control issue where you have to touch everything and make every decision – or it’s a training issue where you just simply haven’t taken the time to train your team how to make good decisions – the outcome is the same. Every decision has to come to you…when anything comes up in your business, you have to stop and weigh in on it.. Even if you have a ‘plan’ you can’t follow it because you’re constantly hitting pause to deal with the fire du jour. This is transactional management and it is a killer of business growth.

When I’m working with studios in our Accelerator Program, I spend a lot of my time dealing with this very basic issue. We have to put the right systems in place to be able to work from the larger playbook.

Imagine a football game. 

Even if you don’t play, most of you have a basic awareness of how it all works.

When the ball is snapped, does each player ask their team captain “Hey, the (other team’s) lineman is going right – should I move with him to block or stay and keep my hole blocked?” The receivers don’t turn around and ask the Quarterback “I have a defender downfield, should I go around him to the left or to the right?” The QB doesn’t hike the ball and then ask the coach what to do when Linebackers blitz around the outside. 

The game would be unplayable. 

First of all, the coach isn’t on the field, he can’t see the hole from the QB’s position. He can’t hear the pounding footsteps of a 280 lineman coming at him at 30 miles an hour. He also doesn’t have the athletic skills of the players. He’s at the game, but he’s not in the middle of the game.

What happens in real life?

The Owner shared their vision with the General Manager. The GM shared that vision plus his added thoughts with the Head Coach. The Head Coach met regularly with the Assistant Coaches and told them how to execute the vision and get it through to the players. Then, the team of coaches drilled and practiced, re-drilled and re-practiced, met with and watched tapes, and drilled and practiced. They also dealt with injuries and off-the-field shenanigans from players. 

They did their very best to get each player on the same page AS A TEAM and be ready for whatever came at them. Then, on Sunday, they took the field with each and every player ready to do his part. Each player knew what happens when the ball snaps and what they have to do to accomplish their part of the win. They all know that they do their part, Mahomes gives it to Kelce and the Chiefs win!

You see, on every single professional team, the coach does not play the game.  They coach!  If they’ve done their job right, then the team will handle the game on their own and only rely on them for additional guidance occasionally during the game.  Don’t get me wrong, the coaches are still very involved in the game and know what is going on, but they are not physically playing the plays.  

Yet, when I talk with studio owners – they are unable to grow beyond themselves because they are unwilling to let go. Put processes into place and develop systems – and let go, man!   It will free you and allow you to grow and flourish beyond any limitations you’ve been putting on yourself.

The coach (studio owner) doesn’t just coach, but they play – sometimes multiple positions.  They make the initial contact and sales, set up the entire set, shoot 80-100% of the photographs, do 100% of the post-production and make the deliveries.  I’m not just talking when the business is new, but even years down the road, the studio owner – the coach – the CEO of the photography company, if you will, is stuck behind a camera taking photos rather than engaging with each and every customer that comes through the door or being free to see potential problems coming around the corner.

The reason that I find studio owners holding on tends to be one of three things.  First, it’s their baby and they don’t think they can trust their vision to anyone else.  They are faster, smoother, and take better photos than any of the team, so it has to be them that does it.  Second, they are simply so overwhelmed that they don’t have time to stop and teach their vision to anyone else.  If they stop dog-paddling, they will drown.  And, third, they don’t know what else they should be doing so if team members made their own decisions, the owner would have a time void with nothing to fill it – except for things that might be uncomfortable (like outreach).  So, they default back to the basic tasks they are familiar with.  

I will add a bonus fourth reason.  Sometimes, I find the owner is hiding.  They are avoiding either the pain of embarrassment or the image of not-knowing everything so they don’t allow team members access to processes in which the owner might be asked about an unfinished task or an awkward situation.  To protect their image, they simply handle it themselves.  

In Systems 4 Volume Photographers, we’re going to look at your Volume Photography Business as a whole – and what systems you need to have in place to make sure that you can win this game. We’ll help you develop plans, processes, and, well, systems so that each of your players knows exactly what to do when anything comes up and we’ll keep you from being the biggest bottleneck in your business.

But, whether you do it with our help, or on your own, it’s absolutely essential that you get the right system and processes in place to be able to handle the daily linebackers and defenders that are headed your way.   You can do this!

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