Gazelle industries | Flexibility in business
What’s a gazelle industry, I hear you ask? Well, there are actually a couple of definitions, but the one that I’m about to use is one I heard at a business event a few years. The speaker categorised two kinds of businesses – gazelles and elephants. Elephant businesses are large, powerful and slow moving. Gazelles are smaller, faster in how they respond and more flexible in adapting to events. A pretty neat set of definitions, huh? (The other definition, by the way, refers to quickly expanding companies – like Google and Apple when they started out. It’s always about speed, in other words).
So, I’m happy to call myself a gazelle industry. I don’t actually think that size makes too much difference; it’s more about mindset. Sure, I appreciate that larger businesses need systems and structures in place to stop waste and inefficiency, but too many seem to wallow in being slow moving and rigid in their way of doing things. A small business like mine has the benefit of not needing rigidity, but can instead use adaptability and flexibility to better serve its customers.
Here’s a recent example, and which prompted this post. I have a client that I’ve worked regularly for over the past few years. They’re a local independent estate agency, and they like my headshots, so whenever they take on a new member of staff they book a space on one of the local Portrait Days that I run every few months and send the new employees down. They got in touch a couple of weeks ago asking when the next one would be – but nothing’s planned until the autumn. So, I suggested, why don’t I visit their office, turn the back office into a mini studio and do the headshot session there? It would save them having to wait.
There was a logistical problem to get round though. The business is literally a few hundred yards down the road, but if I tried to drive there with the usual amount of gear that I take on a portrait shoot (a car boot full, basically), the likelihood was there’d be nowhere to park, and I’d end up further away than when I set off from home. It’s heavy kit, and there’s a lot of it, so carrying it all down was impractical. But I’d made the offer, so how to get round the problem?
The answer, simply, is experience. A lot of the kit that I carry to any job is backup gear, or to cover ‘what if’ possibilities. I carry things that I won’t use 9 times out of 10, but they’re there for that tenth occasion. In truth, the amount of gear that I actually use is pretty small. So, I packed the smallest bag I had with only what I needed. You can see it in the photo below. One camera and lens, one strobe light, one trigger. A lightstand and an Octabox modifier. That’s what I use for 90% of the headshots that I shoot. So that’s all that I needed to actually take. And, if there was a problem, my home was only up the road and I could run home for a replacement, the same as going out to the car park to get the ‘spares’ bag. With that amount of gear I can take a portrait that looks like it’s been shot in a professional studio, and have done for years.
I’ll be honest, it felt a bit odd travelling so lightly … but once set up, the shoot went well and the results matched previous headshots I’d taken for the client. They were happy, getting what they wanted without having to wait for months, and I was paid for a job. Everybody was a winner!
I’d love to chat to you about photography that you might need for your business; as you can see, I’m all about adaptability, making what I do bend to best suit you and your business. Please email or call to chat.