One of our very own, Twyla Lapointe, is the brains behind a company built around the concept of helping business owners create a work-life balance (yes that’s right, I said it, and it is possible). From courses to products, her company, Last Resort, is all about helping you thrive in your business and reclaim your life.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a happily married lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer, seven years running, who works mainly with nerds, and a recovering workaholic with a love of business as well as art.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Last Resort?
I came up with the idea for Last Resort at the 2014 Canada Photo Convention, as it happens! I was in conversation with some fellow volunteers and friends over the course of the conference, and I realized that the need was great, and the knowledge and systems I had to offer were in huge demand.
I was talking with my friend Chad from Jonetsu about the idea at lunch, and how all the photographers and small business owners I knew went on all-expenses-paid vacations, but it didn’t fix anything about their lives because the time before and after the vacation was awful. But instead if they were to take a week to learn sustainable tools and systems that could save them time, it could change everything for them. He was like, “That’s how you should do it. Offer courses for a week.”And in that moment, Last Resort was born.
3. What sort of services does it offer?
The big one is that starting in October we’ll be offering week-long courses. All your time that week, including time set aside for personal time, is managed by the course, which covers time and information management, as well as tools and systems specific to photographers. The other major offering is personalized consulting services to help you with your weakest areas, whether that be time or information management, goal setting, or other business or personal areas related to sustainable life management.
4. What about products?
Right now we’re working on “Lifelines” which are $5 PDFs full of lists of tools, systems, and apps that can save you a ton of time. We’ll also be producing some Last Resort brand tools to help with decision-making and time management in the coming months.
5. What sorts of businesses have you helped?
So far I’ve been working with photographers and other small business owners with similar business models like massage therapists and private IT companies. Self-employed individuals, homemakers and students, or anyone with a high degree of autonomy at work or personally are the people I feel I am best equipped to help.
6. What are some consistent obstacles you see with people you help?
The DIY trend, facilitated by the internet and built into most Canadians from their family lives, has created a generation of people who are very bad at delegation – digital, personal, or otherwise, and having a poor idea of how much can be done in a day. The persistent state of most small business people is overloaded, exhausted, and optimistic – which is a mix that creates burnout quick.
7. If you were to give a business owner one piece of advice about managing a work-life balance, what would it be and why is it so important?
Keep the world at your fingertips – computers have given us a chance to keep things outside our heads, and for the most part we should take advantage of that. Almost everything in my life is now in a searchable database in the cloud, connected to all my devices. It takes seconds to enter things, and saves hours of hunting things down – numbers, small parts, invoices, and everything else in your life can be catalogued, just like a library. It sounds daunting, but it takes minutes a day and saves loads of time.
8. What are some of the most common obstacles you see within the photography community?
Yes, and photographers are among the worst offenders when it comes to productivity issues. They are so invested in their work and art that it can be difficult for many of them to be realistic about how much they can do – and next to impossible for them to let go and start outsourcing things they don’t need to be doing. Slow, steady change, and gathering real data about your business is the only way to work towards a different lifestyle.
The other issue is the financial obstacle to change. Most people feel like they can’t make a change or their finances will collapse – but then again, the majority of people have no idea where there money or time goes, which makes it difficult to make “evidence-based” decisions – so most decisions are made from fear instead.
10. What specific advice would you give to photographers who are having issues with the work/life balance?
Spend time investing in making more time. A great way to do that is to hire Last Resort – but really, get help. Doing it yourself only works if you truly love the things you’re doing. I haven’t met a photographer yet who loved all the things they did day to day. Slowly and incrementally work towards taking control of your time, information, communications, and money.
11. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone just starting the road to self-employment and starting their own photography business, what would it be and why?
Treat it as a business right from the beginning – and work to separate your work and life right away. Separate email accounts, separate space in your home (even if it’s the corner chair) and time limits on work are huge benefits starting out.
You can get in touch with Twyla (and start taking back your life) by either calling 1.866.759.6848 or by emailing her at email@example.com.
Article by Beth Teutschmann.