Does technology move my photography business forward? Ask the Amish.

I don’t know about you, but I really starting to dig deep and question how much social media is helping my business. I mean REALLY moving the needle forward into building a thriving, highly profitable photography business.

Anyone else starting to think this way?

The dizzying array of available social media options and new technologies can send professional photographers like you into a tailspin. What to embrace to move the needle forward and what to avoid? How is a photographer to know? 

Well, the Amish might have a clue.

That’s right. The "horse-buggy-driving-power-grid-avoiding-bonnet-wearing" Amish have some killer advice for your photography business.

I learned recently from Cal Newport that the Amish people in America have a thoughtful and elegant approach to technology that has allowed the their culture, communities and traditions to thrive despite the encroaching outside world and all it’s noise and distractions.

The elders in the Amish community try out the new technology and then decide to adapt it or shun it based on one critical question: 

Does this new technology move us as a people toward goal of family & community bonding? 

If yes, then they adopt it. 

But If answer is no - then they shun it forever.

Having no cars is one example he cites. The Amish tried it out and found that people would drive away from the community when they had free time instead of visiting each other and patronizing each others’ shops.

The questions they don’t ask are even more interesting than the one they do. They don’t, for instance, ask:

  1. "will this technology make my life more convenient?”
  2. “will this technology make make my business more profitable?”
  3. “will this technology make my life or business easier?”
  4. “is everyone else using this?”
  5. “will I have more fun using this?”

Because the answer to all these could be a re-sounding “YES” and still the new technology could be hurting your business in the long (and short) term. 

Ask the bigger questions:

  • Is this technology serving your guiding principles, big goals, and mission?
  • Or is it just instead creating busy work and distraction?
  • Do you know the difference? Can you measure it?

Have you taken the time to articulate and write down your big goals and guiding principles like the Amish have done? 

Here are some examples of possible Guiding Principles for a photography business:

  • Spending more time with clients
  • Delighting clients
  • Creating community
  • Making lives of customers & staff better

So let’s look at a technology like Social Media. Specifically Facebook for example.

Does advertising on Facebook to your friends move your business forward? 

Are you friends your clients? 

Should you NOT use Facebook for this very reason? 

Should you even be on Facebook at all?

If you do, how? In a group that is specific to your actual customers?

Does the time you spend on it serve your Guiding Principles? Or would you better serve it by hitting the pavement in your own community and getting to know your potential clients? If the answer is no, it’s time to question that technology and potentially kick it the curb. 

I’m not saying to cast off all technology, buy a large black brimmed hat and live in the cabin in the woods. I’m just saying, it might be time to question and track how much time you might be spending with all these shiny apps on your iphone and ask yourself it really, measurably moving your photography business substantially forward toward your big goals?

Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn't mean you should. In fact, when everyone is doing something might be just the time to start thinking different (link to think different?). 

Time to go Amish on your business. Tell me some of your guiding principles, and let's explore what you could be doing to move your business toward them.