Owning a small business is tough. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done, aside from birthing and raising a kid, which is a totally different ballgame and would be one of those apples to oranges, or more like apples to alligators type deals... aka no comparison here.
Sure, there's a fear of not making money, competition, and the rest of the what I would consider normal and common fears when being one's own boss, but truthfully, the feeling of discouragement and at times, loneliness are what I feel are far worse. And to make it better (insert sarcasm), no one talks about this. Ever. These are the things you don't expect or even consider when choosing to launch your own business... Being your own boss is a dream for most, and when I look at specifically my own generation, it's an extremely common theme.
When I launched my business, I was choosing an already very well-saturated market. Uh, overly-saturated market. Did I fear failing? Absolutely. Was I worried no one would ever book me? Yep. Were my extremely talented competitors intimidating? Yuuuup. But I was so excited, I was so motivated, and I was going to succeed if it killed me.
Another thing I didn't realize is all I would need to learn. I knew that based on the goals I had set for myself, effort was required. And a lot of it. I was more than willing to do what it took, and I made sure to prepare myself as best as I could. When I compare my current work to my beginning work from two years ago, it's night and day, but I know I've barely scratched the surface of my potential because I know I've only tipped the iceberg on education. But how much faster I could've achieved where I'm at had I felt like I had more like-minded people in my corner, cheering me on. I spent so much unnecessary time caring about what others thought, because I was made to feel this way.
Dont get me wrong, I didn't expect or want anyone to give me all the answers. If you want to have a successful business, you need to show a willingness to learn. I recognized this (and still do, more than ever.) I can't tell you the amount of times I've witnessed people looking for the answers, without doing any of their own research at all. It's frustrating. And more because I didn't have the answers when I started either, but by chipping away and sorting through the wealth of knowledge available from the FREE internet, I was able to get somewhere. Anything I learned from someone else, I either personally sought out through blog posts, research, etc., paid for, or learned in the process of getting out there and getting my hands "dirty". This is not to knock someone else's hustle, just a general statement of the effort owning a small business requires. I knew it meant hard work, and I was up for the challenge.
But post after post started popping up with memes of people buying nice cameras and calling themselves photographers, people going out of their way to make sure I knew I was at the low end of the totem pole, per se. And I saw them, I internalized them, there were times I let it get to me, and other times I was able to use it as motivation- but more than anything, I formed my own definition of what a leader and successful business owner looked like. And I was striving for that type of success.
I hope my posts don't come off like I have the answers. There are days I feel so inadequate. Can we talk about Instagram? It's one of the most popular forms of social media advertisement, if not the most. I follow a few of my favorite big-name photographers for creative inspiration. Often times this is where I find the encouragement I (we) all so desperately need. But, these people have some of most beautifully curated feeds. And then I look at mine, and the party-pooper than is called comparison creeps in. It's easy to get on the downward path of discouragement, self-doubt and lack of self-worth... And that train is hard to get off.
Point is, I'm finding myself at a new place. My foundational goals are still the same: show love and commitment to my clients, always do my best, never stop learning, never stop challenging myself, and make money. This is a business at the end of the day. But, I've learned about myself that if I spend time encouraging others, whether or not it's reciprocated, success takes on a completely different meaning. I don't want to be known for being busy, booked up, or rich. I'm human, all of these things are appealing to me, too. But I want to be first known for being an encourager. I've started to seek out ways to build other people up, making sure I'm making this an intentional part of my own business model. And truthfully, I could not book a single session and yet feel more fulfilled. I can tell you, going out of your way to show grace never killed a business. Owning a small business is hard. And fortunately, I can promise you you're not alone, and many others share the same challenges. I'm a firm believer that there are enough babies, weddings, and engagements for all of us... And I don't foresee there ever being a shortage here. Can I get an amen?
Be an encouragement to someone today. I can promise you someone needs it. I know I do, and what a beautiful world it is to know you can join hands with others who face the same feelings, both high and low, as you. A beautifully curated feed is not directly related to a person having it all together. I'm preaching to myself today. Show love, grace, compassion and let's cheer each other on. I'm rooting for you, for what it's worth!