Well ladies and gents...it's been a year...can you even believe it?! I remember sitting behind that church secretary desk wanting, wishing, praying for change. Hoping I hadn't spend my whole life loving the arts, just to answer phones and make crappy coffee for the rest of my life. (I mean absolutely no offense to those in secretarial roles. We need you!) It just didn't set my heart on fire, and I'm a dreamer at my core.
On to the good stuff...
What have I learned? What am I changing? What will stay the same? What advice can I give? Hold on, y'all. I'll get to it! ;)
Here are my top 5 tips for surviving and thriving in your first year of full time bossing!
1. Find your tribe. Love them hard.
- Finding a group (no matter the size) of humans who support your business and love you is key! Tell your closest friends your hopes and dreams for your business. They'll have your back! Ask them to share your social media posts and talk you up in their circles.
- Start a facebook group about your business. The people who are interested in joining are your core group! These humans really truly care what you're doing. They want all the behind the scenes details. They want to see your pretty face on camera. They are invested in you! Wanna join mine? I'd love to have you! www.facebook.com/groups/simpsonographytribe
- Join up with like-minded business owners. In person or online...or heck, both! Search facebook for business coaches in your field. They've been where you are & already paved the way. I am a member of the Sparkle Squad (an upper level mentoring program with a few other photographers and small biz creatives) with Cyrissa of Sparkle Society. If you're not following her, WHAT?! Go take care of that immediately. She is a wealth of knowledge & kindness.
- Listen to podcasts from business owners in fields similar to yours who are a few steps ahead of you in business. (Pro tip: If you work at home by yourself, hearing other people's voices helps with loneliness...especially if you're an extrovert. It's important!) My hands-down #1 favorite podcast is Misses Ambitious!
2. Know your numbers!
Overhead costs, insurance, education, equipment, mileage...etc. Nope, this one isn't fun. In fact, I've said on multiple occasions in my life, "I'm out of school now, I refuse to do math anymore. It's the worst." While I still agree that it's the worst, you gotta know what you're working with! If you're like me, and numbers hurt your brain, get some software that will do the hard work for you! I use a studio management software called Honeybook that allows me to input all my client info, what step we're on in the photoshoot process, payment info, tax info, emails...you name it. Honeybook takes care of it. I have a 50% discount code for your first year if you're a fellow tog...go to http://share.honeybook.com/nPi9g - you'll thank me later! ;)
3. Take down some chairs!
This figure of speech comes from the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist Grab it here if you haven't already read it. THIS BOOK IS LIFE CHANGING! This analogy in the book was about a minister who lead a growing church. He kept saying he had nothing to do with the growth, but he put up more and more chairs every week so the people kept coming to fill them. In ministry of course, that's a great thing, but as a 1-2 person small business, it's unmanageable. Here's a tough lesson: you can't be all things to all people. You will completely drain yourself trying and then fail everyone including yourself. Do what you do. Specialize. And do it well. If you are fully booked, great! Don't feel pressured to add even more work. (Don't put up more chairs!) Remember that you have family, friends, and your own mental health to keep track of too. Those things require time. A life of hustle is not all it's cracked up to be.
4. Pay cash.
Or debit card...does anybody even carry cash anymore?! You get the idea! Don't use a credit card! Very few businesses profit in the first few years. There are so many expenses when you start! It would be easy (and logical) to just grab a business credit card and go to town. 0% APR until 2021 right?! NO! Don't do it! You'll pay triple for everything in the long run and feel the crushing weight of debt as you're trying to keep a baby biz afloat. I'm lucky I learned my credit card lessons at the ripe old age of 19 in Myrtle Beach. While I did have a fabulous time, it took me about 10 years to pay for it in the long run. (A couple hula hulas and a partially healed belly button piercing later...) Don't be stupid!
You remember the Friends episode...The One With The Cop. (See what I did there?!) Ross, Chandler, and Rachel are trying to carry a couch up a windy staircase and they just can't seem to angle it right. Ross keeps yelling, "Pivot!" Chandler yells, "Shut up, shut up, shut up." They bring the couch back down to the main level and regroup. While this is HILARIOUS on the show, it's SO frustrating in real life! You will have ideas and plans that you think are amazing...and in theory, they are! Then you go to execute them and...crickets! Nobody cares, you hear radio silence. You could do 1 of 2 things. 1. Whine and quit or 2. Pivot! It's clearly not working, don't waste time complaining about it, just change your plan. You get the idea...
Now let me tell you....I'm giving you all this great advice that I need to take as well. SOOOO here we go, during year 1 full time, I've taken on too much work to the point that I've neglected family and friend relationships. I've put up so many "chairs" I couldn't possibly serve all the people sitting in them. I've totally ignored my mental, physical, and spiritual health. So here's to learning to hard way (the only way I know!) This year, my husfriend, Matty, is joining me with photography and videography. He's super talented, creative, and another set of hands! He is much needed! I'm also not going to be accepting as many clients. It's not that I don't love you...I just love my family more. You should too! Create the life you want, not the 80 hours a week hustle that our culture glorifies so much. That will drain you of all your passion and joy. Be free! Take vacations with your spouse, read a book, relax on your porch with a nice cold glass of sweet tea, travel the world...whatever your wildest dreams are, do them!
So I guess that's what I've learned more than anything... You are in charge of what your life looks like. It's exciting and scary all at the same time. The best things always are. Make sure what you're doing reflects who you want to be. For me, that is content.
so much love & stuff,
Elizabeth (and Matty!!)