Since I officially launched my photography business in March, I’ve learned so much about both myself and being an entrepreneur. I think I’ve actually learned more practical business sense in these last three months than in the four years of doing my business degree at university. It’s actually funny to think I could have gone through my entire life without learning any of this, which is now so essential for me. OK some of it I knew before, but launching a business which did so well right away (thank-you!), while also having a kid home full time (albeit I do have sitters) really forced me to learn fast.
Before I start with what I’ve learned, a big thank-you to my husband who has been fully supportive of this venture and is at the park with the kids while I write this.
This is what I’ve learned:
How to not do it all.
We all say we want balance in our lives. For me, I want to be able to spend time with the kids, run my business, take care of the house, be with my husband and have some personal time. I know that. But how do you do that? This was probably my biggest struggle by far. How do you learn to understand how many clients you can take on? Working from home, with very small chunks of free time how do I know when I should be working and when I can take that time for myself or other things?
I sat down with my good friend and business coach Johanne Bohn and we looked at how much time I could/want to actually devote to working, and how long I needed to devote to each client and running my business. I then blocked off time in my calendar to working or doing different tasks. So now I know when I should be working, and when I should be doing other things. It seems so simple but was such a game changer for me.
Support is essential.
I don’t have colleagues that I can bug every time I have a question, so I have to look elsewhere for help. I am a member of several Facebook groups including one that meets in person. They are mostly entrepreneurial based or photography based. Again – lifesavers. Not only can I ask questions, but I learn so much about everything from them. Someone has usually been there done that and is willing to help guide the way.
Understand why you are saying no.
I get easily overwhelmed and my first instinct when something is outside of my little box of comfort is usually to say no. I’m now forcing myself to look at why I’m saying no. Now instead I try to re-evaluate, see if the project could be profitable and see if there’s a way that I could incorporate the style of session to fit within my brand. I’m learning that just because something has always been done one way, doesn’t mean it has to be done like that going forward. Be creative, and put forth new solutions.
Use your time wisely.
I don’t have much time and I don’t want to say no to opportunities which I think are a positive building block towards my business. But, sometimes projects get more time spent on then others. That’s just the way it goes. Client photos – 100% all the time. Heart and soul. Grammar on the blog? 90% effort.
It takes time to learn.
Now that I’ve sorted out the scheduling, I’m working on building my skills. I see so many amazing photographers and I think that pushing myself ever forward and better is important both for my body of work and my mind. I need new challenges to keep myself motivated. But, I want it all and I want it now and that just isn’t going to happen. Learning is a process.
I’m interested to hear from you guys. What do you think about starting a business? What’s been your biggest challenges?
ps Random photo I’ve re-edited from about 8 years ago when we were at the gorgeous cliffs of Dover.