“If not now, then when will you?” This was a question I said to myself before I ripped off the band-aid and plunged headfirst into creating a photography business. Now the business world wasn’t foreign to me. Random fact, I spent almost 15 years as a business analyst of some variety before deciding to do my own thing as a Spokane Photographer. I did a lot of things right that first year. However, there were some hurdles I didn’t anticipate too. I wanted to share with you three lessons I learned starting a photography business that I didn’t see coming.
Perhaps you can relate to this post if you’ve passed the honeymoon phase of a small business yourself. However, more importantly, I want to share some things I learned starting a business for those that might be considering jumping into entrepreneurship soon.
Lesson 1 – When starting your business work with those who believe in what you’re doing
You might think, “But I work by myself,” hence the “small” business. But, even if you are the only employee, there will be many opportunities to hire other contract workers along the way. From web design, accounting, copywriting, and even who you choose to connect with on FB. These interactions matter to the growth of your new business and overall mindset.
When it comes to hiring things out for your business, I believe being an expert in the field isn’t good enough. Anyone helping your business needs to make you feel seen, encouraged, and supported.
When I first got my business going, I looked for people locally that were the best in their field. I pushed aside that many of them didn’t mesh with my vision, nor did I feel like they genuinely believed in what I was doing. But let me tell you, those interactions kind of killed my momentum initially, and it showed in the work produced. Not so much their fault but more mine for not following my gut.
On the flip side, I now only work with people that absolutely inspire me and believe in what I’m doing. There are many web designers, accountants, and even photography coaches out there. Don’t settle for a relationship that doesn’t lift you up. If you’re interested to see some of the people I work with now, check out my photographer resources page here.
Who we choose to interact with matters.
Lesson 2 – Schedule Time for You First
The hustle at the beginning for a small business is REAL. It’s tempting to do all the things and schedule business obligations first. This is a recipe for burnout, promise. You cannot serve others with your business if you don’t take care of yourself first. The danger of this one is that you initially don’t notice the slippery slope, and we are often encouraged to “hustle.”
I still say hustle. It’s ingrained in my soul but make sure you’re hustling for yourself first, then your business.
Lesson 3 – Ignore those in your industry that say the market is too saturated
Please raise your hand if when you were considering starting a photography business you were told the market is too saturated. I was told the market is too saturated many times before deciding to become a full-time photographer. So much so that when I started, I kept my business under the radar to avoid that statement.
Guess what? There is room for everyone. So silence those people that tell you the room is too full or the market is too saturated. While they mean well, my guess is they probably have a lot of work to become confident in their business and offerings. It’s about them, not you.
When you seek out community (which we all need), make sure you connect with those people that are positive and supportive. I promise they exist; it’s just the negativity that can sometimes be hard to cut through initially.
Starting a photography business was a hot mess, but worth it
I’m forever grateful that things worked out the way they did, and I pushed myself into the ranks of small business owners. However, it wasn’t without its struggles and lessons, especially that first year.
If you’ve made it through this post, you might be surprised my Top Three Lessons didn’t include anything about actual photography. Maybe that’s the lesson right there. It doesn’t matter what camera you start with or who hosts your website. What pushed the needle for me was who I surrounded myself with, what opinions I chose to consume, and how much I continued to invest personally in myself along the way.
Are you a small business owner? I’d love to hear your favorite lesson you’ve learned below.
MB – A Spokane-based photographer serving families and small businesses across the Inland NW.