I am so excited to share with you eight truth bombs I wish had been shared with me before starting my photography business. It is my hope that I can give you encouragement and help you course-correct or adapt some of these principles that I wish I would have known so that you can avoid years of heartache that I experienced. I will also be talking about my group coaching program called the Side Hustler to CEO, because some of the truth bombs that I’ve learned, I have strategically incorporated into this program. Are you ready to dive into these truth bombs? If so, let’s get started.
Truth Bomb # 1: Love Business More than you Love Photography
You have to love business more than you love photography! We go into photography as a business owner thinking it’s going to be a lot of photography which we love, however if I’m being honest, photography is only 20% of what it takes to be a photographer. There’s so much more to this than just knowing how to use your camera. The remaining 80% of being a photographer means that you need to understand how to run your business. For those of you out there who may be decided that, hey, I love photography, but I don’t love the business side of things, there are options for you. You can be an associate photographer and just get paid for doing this work only.
Truth Bomb # 2: A Mentor Can Save Time, Effort, and Energy
When I started my business, I didn’t have a mentor or coach. Remember as a new photographer, we don’t have a ton of money lying around. So I decided that I was capable enough to figure things out on my own and do the research myself. But I kept on hearing for a while, “If you want a faster way, if you want a less stressful way, hire a mentor.” I then took the plunge, and invested in myself. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and it was more money that I had made in a month as a photographer.
It was a huge investment and I took a chance on myself and I so wish that I had done it sooner because it would have saved me so many years of heartache. Now as a business owner who has been in business for over 12 years, 10 of which I feel was my more professional career, I will never not have some type of mentor or an ongoing education program that I am a part of. It is so easy to fall back into old habits and go in the opposite direction. I wish I had found a mentor in the beginning and that I had ongoing support through my business journey.
I remember chatting with a complete stranger on Facebook one day, and we were discussing a business investment that I had just made, which left me feeling like I completely wasted my time and money. She kindly replied to me and said, “Nothing is a waste of money, now you know better for next time.” I absolutely love her words and I used them as inspiration for this quote below:
“No experience is a waste of your time or your money. It’s simply a learning lesson that will help you make better decisions in the future.”
This reminder has changed everything for me and I want you to think about that, each decision that you make when you invest in your business is an opportunity for growth. Remember to always do your due diligence and research the things that you invest in and research the mentor that you put your trust in.
Truth Bomb # 3: Entrepreneurship Requires a Thick Skin and Positive Mindset
I never knew how much I could handle. The heat, fire, all the crappy moments I could endure as a business owner. The self-doubt, the criticism, the rejection, the jealousy, the negative-self talk all the things and so much more. I mean there are so many different mindset blocks that I’ve experienced as a photographer and I’ve had to go through and work through each one. I never knew how much self-care and mindset was a part of being a business owner. This book called Reset your Mindset by Natalie Eckdahl really helped me to identify the source and overcome these mindset blocks that were keeping me stuck. I recommend you guys grab a copy of this incredible book if you are interested.
Inside my recently launched Side Hustler to CEO program, one of the very first lessons I have focuses on self-care. Additionally there’s going to be a lot about mindset and how to shift and deal with those mindset blocks. As part of the program, you will also have coaching calls with me, which is a really great opportunity to unpackage and work through all of these blocks. The program is six-months and designed to have long-lasting support along your growth journey.
Truth Bomb #4: Always be Future-Focused
This is something that never occurred to me as a new photographer and it took me about a decade or so to understand that I was the CEO of my business. If you want to create a sustainable and profitable business, you have to think big. You also have to know that no one else can hold you back from success but you.
When I stepped into the role as CEO in my business, things changed and I had a completely different view. I had different expectations and forecasting. Once you make that shift and you make that decision, that you’re going to be the CEO of your business, and you are going to think bigger about the future of your business, that’s when things begin to change.
Truth Bomb #5: You Don’t Have to Know or Do Everything at Once
I think when I first started in my photography business, and even years into it, I always assumed that if something was working for another photographer, then it would work for me too. I tried to implement what they were doing into my own business, and honestly, sometimes I implemented things too quickly. I was trying to get to that next place by skipping steps, without actually having someone tell me if that would work or not.
I also did things that maybe weren’t in the proper order for my business and so they didn’t make sense and they didn’t work. That time was really stressful for me and I spent money that probably would have been well spent in other ways. Having a mentor back then to talk to would have been incredible for me. Here are five key things to focus on as a business owner. Everything else that we think is so important as a photographer is not important, if it doesn’t fall into one of those five categories below:
- Visibility: Think of marketing as visibility. What are you doing to get found?
- Strategies to Engage- Relationship Marketing: What strategies are you going to be using to engage? How are you going to engage with new potential clients or complimentary vendors?
- Invitation : After you connect with someone, how are you going to invite them? What is the next step? If we’re not giving a call to action, then how do we expect our potential clients to want to work with us?
- Nurturing: How are we going to stay relevant and top of mind to our potential clients when they need a photographer?
- Focus on an Epic Client Experience: How are we going to take extra special care of our clients, so that they become an incredible referral source for us?
Truth Bomb # 6: Systems and Workflows are Essential
You have to learn to love systems. You have to learn to be organized and to create workflows if you want to have that sustainable profitable business of your dreams. It has to happen that way, otherwise you’re always going to be overwhelmed and feel flustered. Once you learn how to organize your work as well as to systemize it, it becomes manageable. Inside the Side Hustler to CEO program, I walk you through exactly how to do that. Some mamas have shared their realizations when they went through this process with me and I want to share with you what they said.
Karen says, “super-excited about treating myself like a CEO. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making Trello boards for everything from now on. Thanks for the great content Ashley.“
Hannah said, “I just wanted to share my screenshot of my Trello board here. I am loving how organized this is. I struggle so much with staying organized. So now I’m excited to use this to keep me on track.”
Just this simple lesson is already changing these mamas’ lives, giving them the perspective of organization and giving them a plan for exactly how to do it. Sometimes that’s all it takes is for someone to show you the way, and then you can take what they teach you and apply it in a way that makes sense for you.
Truth Bomb # 7 : Surround yourself with People who are Smarter than You
I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. But I heard this quote one time actually at a conference and it goes like this. “If you’re the smartest person in your circle, you need to find a new circle.”
This was so mind blowing to me because I feel like so often we get stuck and we get comfortable in the circles that we’re in and if we are the smartest at what we do in that circle, there’s little room for growth. If you are feeling a little bit stuck in your business, and you are wanting someone to push you and stretch the envelope a bit and get you outside of your comfort zone, start hanging out with people who are a little more successful than you. If you are having a hard time finding those people, plug into our free Facebook community over at thepurposegathering.com/mamas. Here you can join and connect with a group of like-minded mom photographers who are in a similar situation as you are.
Truth Bomb # 8: Revenue Matters
I wish I would have known that revenue matters. When I got into business, it was more so an escape, something for me to do that was for me. I wasn’t in it for the money at the beginning and because of this, I sort of lost sight of revenue. I really wish that I would have focused a little more on the revenue, that I would have stretched myself a little bit and made myself a little bit uncomfortable when I was making those revenue goals. We normally don’t make goals because we don’t want to fail at them. If we do not have a goal of something we’re striving for, we’re likely not going to ever make forward momentum or forward growth.
Even though this is obvious, some of you may be stuck in this mentality. But I want you to think if you want to create a profitable, sustainable business that can someday support your family, or that can fund fun things for your family, you still need to focus on the revenue. You still need to have a marketing plan as well as a strategy and have systems and workflows in place to keep your business growing.
If you are needing support right now and you are thinking, “that’s exactly what I need Ashley!” I need someone who is going to give me the step-by-step process of what I need to do in order to create a solid firm foundation for my business. I would love to invite you to join us inside the Side Hustler to CEO program. I’m offering an incredible price which is only available through the end of this month as after September 1st, the price for the program will double. I totally recommend that if you are at all interested that you check out thepurposegathering.com/coaching, and just spend some time reviewing the details. I so wish that I had something like this a decade ago when I was first really getting a handle on my photography business. So if that’s what you’re looking for support, I would love to be that guide for you.
I hope that these truth bombs have brought perspective for you. I hope that it has showed you what to expect as a business owner and to know that yes, entrepreneurship feels hard and being a mom is hard, but that you don’t have to do it alone or in silence. If you enjoyed today’s episode, I would love for you to take a screenshot of it, share out on Instagram with other mamas and tag me @thepurposegathering.
And as always mama, I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.