Could a retainer save you money?

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New Year revisiting a new idea. Last year I introduced the idea of a retainer to my business photography client options. It was new to me and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would workout for either me or the client. The only ‘retainer’ type structures I could find online were either similar to a shoot deposit or were guaranteeing availability, whether work was carried out or not. The latter usually being fairly expensive for the client.

I wanted to do something that both saved clients money and made it easier for them to include photography in their annual budget and I hoped gain a slightly higher overall spend and a more steady income throughout the year. I was pretty sure it would be very cost effective for the client and that the regular payments would be good for my cashflow, but I was a bit fuzzy on the details.

My usual approach would be not to take an idea forward until I had every detail perfected with the consequence being never taking any action. This time I decided to suck it and see!

A big thank you goes out to West Lothian Chamber of Commerce for being the first to take me up on the offer…the guinea pig so to speak. We sat down and came up with a budget, event list and a few other details to build flexibility and reliability in to the agreement. Now with 3/4 of the year through I’ve done a quick audit. 10 events have been covered from the launch of the Developing Young Workforce programme, annual awards to the monthly breakfasts. When the normal fee is compared to and the amount paid through the retainer the Chamber has so far saved 60% and been able to build a great stock of images of all their events for PR and future promotions.

I’d love to hear about any successes and failures you have had with similar or new pricing structures. Or for that fact any time you’ve introduced new concepts to your clients that they might not be familiar with. How did you go about it? What did you find that did or didn’t work?

And if you’d like to talk through how a retainer might work for your business give me a call and we can grab a coffee and a chat.

Contact me on 0776 309 2221 or email claire@clairewatson.co.uk

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How do you keep your productivity?

Productivity is important. There are only so many hours in a week and entrepreneurs can never find enough of them, so short of inventing time travel (if anyone has let me know), how do we make the most of the time available to us? **Not in a ‘we’re all going to die’ way but in a ‘there are only 24 hours in a day 7 days in a week’ way…and we can’t work all of them.

“Nobody ever became an entrepreneur so they could avoid working hard. Running your own business stretches anybody’s work-life balance to the absolute limit. And it has now emerged that micro-business owners are working an average of 52 hours a week, 63 per cent longer than the average worker, according to research by call handling firm Penelope.” – Jack Torrance, Real Business

However, the problem with a 52+ hour working week is it comes up against this other well known fact.

“For decades, studies have shown the diminishing returns of consistently putting in more than 40 hours a week, while some economists (and Google founders) have repeatedly pointed out that with technology doing more and more of the heavy lifting when it comes to productivity, it might be wiser economically and socially (and hey, maybe even spiritually) if we all worked a bit less–say, 30 hours a week.” – Jessica Stillman, Inc.com

So we are working on average 12 hours where our productivity is consistently falling. What can we do to help with that?

I would love to know, how do you clear your head and reset?

I have a theory…entrepreneurs like hard work, are constantly thinking about their businesses and struggle to switch off. My personal experience is that things that used to help me relax, when I had a 9 to 5 job like reading or watching TV, don’t work anymore. I get distracted or feel that I’m not using my time effectively. So my new approach is weightlifting!

Stay with me and I’ll explain why I think weightlifting is an excellent way of switching off for entrepreneurs. It’s really complicated, you have to concentrate, it’s physical not mental, you can fit it into 30 mins, it lifts your pulse rate, is good for your health and gets you out of your head and into the moment.

So how do I improve my productivity. I clear my head and reset by lifting heavy!

…or you could try mindfulness 😉

Learning from others!

Today’s inspiration comes from someone else, as there are a lot more experienced and successful people out there than me. Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing 4 inspirational women talk at the West Lothian Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Ladies Lunch. Jackie Waring from Investing in Women, Jane Martin from Scottish Enterprise, Liz Cameron from Scottish Chamber of Commerce were great, but today I’m stealing from Sanja Moll from the Salt Yard Group and LeCoq restaurants.

Here are the key points I took away from a much more experienced entrepreneur than me.

  1. Be flexible. Don’t be frightened to chuck out a plan that doesn’t feel right even if it involves throwing away months of work.
  2. Work hard. A lot of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make it up as you go along. Just keep working hard.
  3. Take risks. It’s important to not be so frightened by failure that you don’t take risks. Failure is an effective learning tool and taking risks is a key part of being an entrepreneur.
  4. A key part of growing as a business is learning to delegate and professionalize a business.
  5. Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back.

It was great to hear about Sanja’s trials and tribulations when developing her businesses. Especially the stuff about throwing out ideas and dealing with failures. I often don’t take action on things quickly because of a fear of doing something wrong. The result is I don’t get things done. So moving forward I’m going to be braver and learn from people who are much more successful than me…for now 😉

Big thank you to West Lothian Chamber of Commerce for the invite and Norton House Hotel for a great lunch.

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