Are you in a fog trying to find your way?

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 450, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

In any sport, winning requires recruiting and getting the best people. You then need to practice together and have a game plan against your competition, which you have scouted and prepared to play against.

Executing your plan flawlessly will most often give you then win, and mistakes will most likely cost you the game.

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 110, ƒ/1.4, 1/80

Many of my friends in communications are losing their jobs. When talking with many of these professionals, I have discovered a lack of understanding of business. Many professionals are coming out of a fog and waking up in the middle of a game. They find themselves in the middle of a contest for which they do not know the game’s rules or goals.

By 2020, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be independent workers. Today, 53 million Americans (34% of the workforce) fall into this category. That number is growing based on several factors. Some employers see this as a better choice, and many employees want more control over their lives.

Being a communications professional will become increasingly difficult if you do not understand business. But, unfortunately, this is the game you are now playing. As a result, there will be fewer staff jobs where other people take care of the business while you are just a writer, photographer, or some different role in the industry.

Business Insights for my Communication colleagues are just learning about business skills.

The first thing you need to know about every business is to have good people skills because everything about business is about people.

Your audience for communicators is people. Your clients are people. Your stories are about people.

If you do not understand how to work with all these groups, then you will not be successful.

Second, in any business is your expertise with your product. Expertise in subject matter is where many of my colleagues are also getting tripped up. They think it is photography, for example. I believe the earliest caveman communicators didn’t have cameras and used other ways to communicate using visuals. I also believe that the storytellers around the campfires during the caveman times were the communicators of their time.

Today you need to be an excellent communicator. You may be more potent as a writer than a photographer or some other skills, but today you still need to be a person who can sit around the campfire of your community and tell those stories.

Due to today’s budgets, many professionals will be responsible for more parts of the storytelling process than when they were part of large staffs where specialization was possible.

A third thing you must master to survive in business today is having worked on your processes. You must be excellent at executing your job as well. Execution means not just that you know how to research a story, but you can take care of all the travel plans and budgets so that you can create an estimate that makes it profitable to do the work. Then you must also know how to bill and pay those taxes on your business.

These are just some processes you must execute to run a successful business at the highest standards. You need to master these before you do the last step.

The last thing you must master to get business is having clarity in communicating your business to customers.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1140, ƒ/1.8, 1/1000

How it works to get those clients

Your potential clients have communication problems they cannot solve independently. Many of these potential clients don’t even know they have the problem. For example, most of the world didn’t think they had a problem that the smartphone would help solve until Steve Jobs gave his presentation on what the iPhone could do.

It would help if you positioned yourself to fix the problems you are an expert on.

If someone asks you what you do, talk about the problems you solve for people and how you might be able to solve their problems. For example, if they see your marketing materials, is it crystal clear what you will do to help them?

Be sure your marketing articulates the problems that you are solving for your potential clients.