In any business, you as the owner will have to choose if you want to be either the leading, the most productive, the highest quality or the largest business in your industry to keep yourself focused towards a goal.
If you think of largest or leading or most productive, it's more likely you're some sort of an SM. You are a factory, mass production is your nickname. You go down and dirty with your prices, give crazy discounts, do vouchers, and go into a price war with whoever. And quality products and services are obviously compromised. Most especially customer service. Your margins are barely there. You go with volume of sales. And for most photographers in the country, this is the chosen business model. But the thing is, if you don't have a long pisi, in other words, capital - to pay for a team, computers, equipment, the works, most probably than not, you will run out of moolah and energy to make your photography venture move. You would have spread yourself too thin, you're tired, and that's when you decide that all the effort you've put into the business is not paying the financial rewards, and that's when you decide to close shop. Sad stories of these are a plenty.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being SM. I mean, hello! We love SM right? But if you don't have the power and the money to sustain your venture, in a short while, you'll be at the gutter.
At the other side of the spectrum, you have highest quality. Since I started with the department store analogy, you are now Rockwell. You have people playing the piano for you. You are at the high end of things and people perceive you as that - quality. Tissue paper in the restrooms, yes? And when clients see you as such, they know your value. And they are willing to pay for your art and your wonderful products and services.
Ideally, for photographers who see their work as fine art, this is the category. You can't be high quality and cheap. It's either or. And when people pay you good money, you can take care of your clients and give them wonderful products and services. So when someone walks in and says, "I just want simple photos. And can I get the high-res files please?" the best thing to do is walk away. This person is not your target market. This person is merely looking for a photographer, not an artist with your skill set. If you want to be the Rockwell of photography, you only deal with people who appreciate art and who will pay for the wonderful things that you can do with your camera. If you know who you are, then it won't be hard to turn down the wrong clients. And sooner or later, you get to decipher who your real clients are as soon as they open their mouths.
-Heidi Aquende, resident Camera Cart Photographer