If you are looking to beef up your business know-how but don’t want to drop hundreds (thousands) on a workshop, there is the tried and true path of books.
Here are PhotoMint's current top recommendations for business books. These are books that I can credit with guiding my photography business towards the path of success, and personally recommend to you.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
This book is absolutely essential reading for photography business owners. So many photographers start out with encouragement from family and friends, and a hope and a dream, possibly some talent. And that's it. There's this idea that if you do what you love, the money will follow. This is the biggest load of BS that has ever been sold to photographers, in my opinion.
It feels good, and its what we want to hear. But it's not the truth. When you start a business with that mantra, you are headed for several long years of struggling, working hard in ways that most likely don't pay off, and after 8 months or so, the disappointment starts to set in. The thing is, business skills and know-how do not come easily to most people, particularly photographers.
The reason this book is so, so great is that it is aimed specifically at small businesses, the one-woman show (or one-man band) most of us face each day. When you read about the clever things they are doing over at Starbucks, it's hard to see how you are going to implement that all by yourself. This book really dives into the common pitfalls of most small businesses, and what you can do to avoid it.
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
This is a must-read for anyone in the boutique business, which is what most of us are. What we are selling, as wedding and portrait photographers, is the experience. For low volume photographers, we aren’t selling the 8×10, and the sooner you figure that out, the better. This book is fantastic, because most books on selling focus on a product, which doesn’t quite relate-we sell a service and an experience. The insight into our customers is highly useful for putting together an approach to marketing and selling your services. I know many photographers who consider this book essential reading for photography business owners, and I agree.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is my all-time favorite business book, hands down. I'm somewhat of an introvert, and this book taught me how to get out of my shell and connect with people. For many photographers, this is the case-creating images is something you are skilled at, while people skills elude you. I know that's how it's been for me, so if you find yourself in the same boat, you just might find this little gem to be a lifesaver. It's truly an outstanding philosophy that has changed many lives.
It's super simple and easy to read, with lots of little exercises that you can start implementing right away. If you struggle a bit to connect with potential clients during the consultation or need some ideas for making people comfortable during sessions, you should absolutely read this book.
Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell
This book is about putting your customers first. I've read a number of books talking about customer service, but in my opinion this is one of the best. Besides plenty of examples and case studies, this book is truly inspiring. Many customer service books give examples from a particular type of business, but the reader if left on their own to translate the concepts into something useful for their own situation. What makes this book stand out is that the author goes into detail about how you can apply the advice and techniques to your own business.
How to Work a Room by Susan RoAne
This is an easy and fun read on the basics of networking. If you are shy and unsure of what to do at networking events, this book is for you. Many photographers tend to prefer being the fly on the wall instead of the life of the party. If that's you, this book is filled with practical tips that you can implement quickly and easily at your next event. If you are a social butterfly, this book is not going to tell you anything you don't already know. But for those of us who don't shine naturally, this is a true gem. If you are choosing between this one and “How to Win Friends…” it's a no-brainer, the Dale Carnegie book. But if you are wanting to maximize your networking opportunities (especially in the wedding industry) then I suggest both.
Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen
There are lots of books out there right now on how to use social media for businesses, but in my opinion, this is one of the best. Photographers are so overwhelmed with so much to do, so if you don't understand the value in social media, it's hard to justify the time to learn and implement it. And if you get to that point, how do you know whether or not it's effective? Filled with practical tips, this book is that it illustrates the very real value to businesses willing to engage in social media. Personally, I resisted Twitter for a long time because I just didn’t get the point. Now though, I love it, and use it every day. It's important to understand what medium or platform makes the most sense for you and your business. There are many different marketing paths you can take, but if you want to embrace social media and need to understand the how and why, this is a great book to get you started.
What books have you read that changed the way you run your business? What's your top business book recommendation?