A Growth Mindset Leads to Photography Business Success
Photography businesses are generally very small operations. Their owner is almost always their artist in chief, as well. The photographer’s beliefs about themselves, the world at large, and others are what drives their actions. What happens if the business owner’s beliefs are rigid, fixed, and inflexible? How likely is that owner to take the calculated risks needed to be successful?
What is a growth Mindset?
In her more than 30 years of research Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University research psychologist, identified and coined the phrase fixed and growth mindsets. She concludes that we all tend to fall into either a growth or a fixed mindset. Carol Dweck defines mindset this way:
“In a fixed mindset people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, and their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.”
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
— Carol Dweck
So what are some growth-minded beliefs that could influence your actions and help your photography business succeed?
GROWTH MINDSET BELIEFS
You Don't Need To Chase Gear
Having a growth mindset is characterized by the ability to overcome challenges. Not having all the gear you think you need shouldn’t be thought of as a limitation, but a challenge to discover what can be produced. Number one skill set of successful photographers is the ability to solve problems quickly. By changing the perception toward gear, the business saves money and the photographer quickly learns to adapt, adopt, and try new strategies. It is the fixed mindset photographer who will stop creating while they save up for the next thing that will “make them.”
Failure Is An Action, Not An Identity
Failure is an opportunity to try something new, always. Fixed mindset individuals often lose out on the opportunity to learn because they perceive the action of failure as their constant, their identity. Understanding that no one is a failure but that everyone has had a collection of failures is a major turning point.
Photography is an ever evolving industry, constantly moving and pushing into new realms. New technology is coming to the market, artificial intelligence is already learning to edit, younger and (frankly) cooler photographers are appearing everyday.
For many photographers these factors push toward a fixed mindset.
They might think: “I am not changing my style. The people who appreciate me will always appreciate my craft.”
“Real artist don’t need (insert new technology here) to make great work.” “Photographers have to do all their own editing without actions/presets/filter/plugins/retouchers/etc..”
“Kids today don’t know what it takes to succeed.”
Belief statements like these are constantly uttered in photography circles. The root of these statements is fear and a threat to the way things “have always been.” In the art of photography, change is the way things have always been. The most successful businesses in the world adopt new technology quickly. Agile businesses don’t rage against the wave of change, they ride it to success.
Growth mindset individuals are not threatened by the success of others. A growth mindset individual understands that other’s successes, by their very existence, highlights possibilities. The success of others is a roadmap to follow. Once this idea is adopted the feelings of fear and being threatened often subside and the willingness to share insights with each other expands.
Having a group of likeminded people you can bounce ideas off of only expands the creative process – ask half the Silicon Valley CEOs who keep showing up at Burning Man why they go. The answer is ego is dropped at the door in favor of having real conversations with peers about possibilities over problems. No one understands your market more than others operating in it. Adopting a “community over competition” belief will allow the opportunity to talk with others, share ideas, and potentially expand beyond what one individual would have thought of alone.
Social Media is a blessing and a curse for photographers. The fixed mindset photographer looks at social media as a highlight of what they can’t yet do, where their talent is limited, what they cannot achieve. When feedback is received it is often discarded either because the person offering feedback has portfolio work that “isn’t worthy” of giving an opinion or because the fixed mindset photographer feels threatened by the feedback, even more so when deep down they know the feedback is valid.
The growth mindset photographer sees social media as a sea of possibilities, road maps toward success. The growth mindset photographer won’t be intimidated by other’s work, but will celebrate the artist's success and ask questions about the processes, not the equipment, that lead to the winning image.
A growth mindset is the belief that improvement is a possibility. Understanding you can accomplish anything doesn’t dismiss the work it will take to get there; it is just understanding that the effort is the road to success. Working hard does not equal working smart.
Photographers need to realize that investment in themselves is just as important as investment in their business. Actively work on developing a growth mindset toward your photography business success by challenging yourself to adopt the 5 beliefs above and you will be well on your way adopting successful strategies that will feed your photography businesses success well into the future.