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Alliance SBDC News

Photography by Shanna: Focused on Success

In 2017, when Shanna Dugan met Amy Lambert at a mixer for entrepreneurial women, she was leading a successful business in photography. Named one of the Illinois' Valley's "40 under Forty" in 2012, she has always been heavily involved in the region as a respected business owner. “I was successful, but I was in a rut. Amy Lambert showed me the way out of that rut.”


Dugan scheduled weekly sessions with Lambert, the director of the SBDC of the Starved Rock Country Alliance. She has found that the sessions help her put words to the issues that were taking the joy out of her business.

Using the GrowthWheel tool for business analysis, the two came to a breakthrough. Several areas of Dugan’s business didn’t need her personal attention at all. For example, she identified the opportunity to begin to transition all of her accounting work to a professional.


Dugan also tamed the areas of marketing and customer service and built new, more successful processes. Instead of taking client calls around the clock, Dugan now funnels her leads through her business website. She took her personal phone number private and established a phone number just for business. The service transcribes voicemail. Today, Shanna returns calls only when was in business mode, in her office with time necessary to focus on how she can build experiences that exceed her clients instead of handling every call immediately and on the fly.


The action plan worked. It opened up time for the slow photography Dugan practices. Dugan doesn’t rely on digital imagery, preferring classic film. Instead of sending film to a lab, she develops film herself again. In her dedication to her craft and imagery, she now finds great peace in her darkroom printing her signature portraits personally.


She dedicates herself to the art of female portraiture. In her portraiture, she focused on producing works of art that show women exactly how they look through the eyes of loved ones. Today, way on the other side of her rut, Dugan looks forward to choosing her photography clients selectively and seeing the value in her very personal and inspiring work.



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The Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance

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