I think it goes without saying, but just in case you didn’t know: being an entrepreneur is HARD WORK. There are always things to do and ways I can keep growing and improving my business, which is always a goal of mine. Because of this, whenever I get the chance, I love asking other successful business owners or business people what their “Number 1 Piece of Business Advice” is. They’ve been where I am and have so much knowledge to share, and I want to get the best little nugget of info I can! It’s also interesting how much you can discover about how their business is run and their priorities from this answer.
I recently got the opportunity to ask this question to successful photographer in the wedding industry and their answer to me was, “Live it and breathe it.” Unsatisfied with just that, I asked them to further explain. They went on to say that ALL they did was photography – it was their ENTIRE LIFE. They put off other life goals, having kids, time off, even family commitments in order to grow their business to what it was. And I get that in a way, I really do. There are certain sacrifices I have to make now in order to build a truly sustainable business that will LAST and not just fizzle out like nearly half of all the small businesses started do within the first five years. In order to do that, I do work longer hours than I did when I had my full time communications job, and I do have to miss things sometimes since I typically shoot on weekday evenings and weekends. But I don’t ever want to just “live and breathe” my photography business.
Early on after going full time with my photography business, I decided that I didn’t want it to be my entire life. Here is why: The thought of being 10, 20, 50 years down the road and looking back to see that I had JUST become a good photographer during those years made me sad. I don’t ever want to just be known for being a good photographer. I’d rather first be known by someone who lived their life and spent their time in ways that reflect and honor God, as a good daughter, sister, friend, and maybe one day wife and mom. I want to be remembered as the photographer who didn’t just deliver pretty photos, but as one who took the time and effort to truly SEE my clients and capture real personalities and relationships.
In a world and industry that is so attention and numbers focused, it is so easy to lose sight of the things that truly matter in the long run. When I’m 80 years old, I want to be telling my grandchildren about the way God used me with a camera in-hand. I want to show them images of people I’ve photographed and tell them of the amazing things they have done; photographs taken for ministry organizations and nonprofits that helped make a difference. At that point, it won’t matter what blogs or magazines my images end up in, or how many people followed me on Instagram (they probably won’t even know what that is!). Not to say I don’t have goals related to these things, or that they aren’t valuable to my business… but it’s not what I live and breathe, and I pray that it never is.
I’m sure this will change over the years, but if I were to offer my “Number 1 Piece of Business Advice” to you today, it would be to build a business fuels your life, not one that your life fuels. This little business of mine and a camera in-hand has contributed to some of my favorite memories and brought some incredible friendships into my life. If I were just consumed with living and breathing my business, I really do believe I would have missed out on these things because my eyes would have been focused elsewhere.
So, all of this to say, my encouragement to you is to remember that while our businesses are a big and important part of our lives, they shouldn’t be our entire life. There are more important and valuable things in the grand scheme of it all, so let’s not miss it!
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