Business

How To Create An Award-Winning Business

Getting the recognition you deserve.

Wedding by    Marcy Blum   , Photography by    Cameron Clark

Wedding by Marcy Blum, Photography by Cameron Clark

Awards are given to the people who enter the award competitions.

This means that the winners may not be the best of the best who currently exist anywhere on the planet. The winners are typically the best of the people who submitted.

If you want to win an award, you have to enter the competition.

If you want to get more press, you have to submit more often.

If you want to be known as innovative, you have to show original ideas consistently.

If you want to be chosen for something, you have to put yourself in a place where people can see you in order to choose you.

The Oscars were invented to both legitimize and market membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – a trade association much like PPA, ILEA, NACE, or WIPA. 

Most awards are marketing, pure and simple. Marketing isn't a dirty word and it certainly shouldn't be an afterthought — it's what sells your art and puts your employees' kids through college.

So if you don't win this time around, don't get the press feature you want, lose a really great wedding to a competitor — revamp your strategy if needed and keep submitting. There will always be more awards and more opportunities, and they will always go to the people who show up to play.


Originally published January 2015

When Business Isn't Fair

It's rarely talent alone that lands the job.

Photo at Bridal Fashion Week by    Cameron Clark

Photo at Bridal Fashion Week by Cameron Clark

If I ever write a memoir, I'm going to call it, "My Baggage Comes As a Matching Set and My Pity Parties Are Catered." While I have a dream job, I've definitely cracked open the Ben & Jerry's on more than one occasion. Sometimes it's been because of my own mistakes or errors in judgment. Other times it was because of decisions that were completely out of my hands.

I know I'm not the only one who's faced situations like this.

Not all planners, venue coordinators, retailers, magazine and blog editors, or conference producers have good taste. And some simply just don't know what they don't know. Sad, but true.

If you are counting on someone in a "gatekeeper" role to always see that your photographs/films/cakes/designs/insights/products are legitimately better in technical quality/taste/actual facts/materials, you will, at times, wind up disappointed and mystified.

Talent still matters in the long run, obviously. Never stop learning and pushing yourself to be better. But also, marketing matters. Networking matters. Being a team player matters. Being pleasant to be around for 8-18 hours a day matters.

You can be all these things, and sometimes you will still lose a wedding to a photographer with 100k Instagram followers who is charging twice what you are because of their popularity but whose photos are just plain bad. The saying "everybody wants what everybody wants" is true and sometimes that includes the wedding industry pros who are supposed to have better taste as well as advanced knowledge and insight into what you do.

It's rarely talent alone that lands the job, as seemingly unfair as that may be. Don't allow that to make you cynical. Throw yourself a pity party for 20 minutes and then get back to work.


Originally published September 2018

5 Things I Look For In A Business Consultant

My personal checklist.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

These days, there is no shortage of business consultants who are happy to help you. As a business consultant myself, here's what I look for when hiring one – for myself:
 

1. They've hired a business consultant themselves.

I'm not interested in learning from someone who isn't interested in learning from others. Someone who is convinced they personally have "all the answers" usually doesn't. 
 

2. Their expertise goes beyond Google and the latest books.

I've hired consultants several times over the course of my career. Some were useful, some helped me shift my perspective on certain things even though their advice didn't actually work, and some were terrible – reciting paragraphs from books that I had already read, with zero knowledge beyond that. 
 

3. They earn enough to be the primary breadwinner, even if that is not their family role.

Supplemental income is awesome. Being able to take your family on vacations and creating lifelong memories together matters. Even paying half the expenses in a dual-income family is great. However, being able to grow a business that generates enough revenue to completely support your family and the families of your employees requires a different skillset (and mindset) than running a business that only provides excellent supplemental income.
 

4. They spend both quality and quantity time with their families.

Travel is great and goodness knows I've racked up the miles, but at this point in my career I am not interested in learning how to build a business that takes me away from home on a frequent basis. For me both quality time and quantity time are important. 
 

5. They work smarter and harder. 

They don't claim to make a full-time salary by working "only three days a week" (I automatically nope right out of someone's Instagram page if I see this) but they also don't kill themselves or their team by never allowing their phones to be switched off during lunch. They work hard. They work smart. They rest. They make time for people. And they allow others to do the same.


Originally published April 2017