Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back on when I started my business there are a few things I wish I knew or understood better. Things that if I had known would have saved me infinite sleepless nights and loads of undue stress. Here is a look at what I wish I knew when I started my business.
For anything and everything. Don’t take anything for granted.
SAY YES TO EVERYTHING
Okay, so maybe I did know this, maybe too well. When you’re starting out, say yes to it all. Experience is experience, no matter the job. You’re learning what you like, what you dislike, and most importantly you’re learning valuable lessons about interacting with all different types of people and situations.
EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION
Smile, nod your head, say thank you for your insight. Do you have to take the “advice?” No. Just don’t argue with people. Everyone thinks they know what is best for your business. Be polite, take their words with a grain of salt, and don’t discount everything. Sometimes there is a great idea laced within wanted or unwanted advice. You just have to know what to keep and what to toss aside.
DON’T COMPARE YOUR BUSINESS TO OTHERS
Y’all this one took me FOREVER to figure out. Like literally 5 years in business. I dive into the depths of it in my post The Biggest Mistake I Made In My Photo Business. But basically I compared myself to no end with everyone around me. What I did that they didn’t do and what they did that I didn’t do. I was absolutely miserable. Taking your full on autobiography and comparing it against someone else’s highlight reel will drive you mad. Just don’t do it.
I cannot stress the need for contracts enough. I’ll say it again; a bit louder this time:
GET LEGAL COUNCIL AND DRAFT CONTRACTS FOR ALL SERVICES THAT YOU OFFER.
Weddings, grow with me plans, single sessions, boudoir shoots. I don’t care what you offer, you need legal security and protection. People suck, not all of them. Actually most people don’t suck at all, but a select few individuals completely tarnish the reputation of human beings. Had I had contracts in place from the beginning I would have been saved from a couple of things including but not limited to an ulcer and loss of a couple thousand dollars.
STICK TO YOUR GUNS
This one is so hard. Being young and a woman starting a business it is super easy to be intimidated. Make yourself rules and guidelines, don’t let people take advantage of you. UGH! This one is so hard, I know I just said that. It’s hard because you’re young; people think they can sway you and get what they want. You stick to your rules and your guidelines you have in place to safeguard against being taken advantage of and people call you nasty names or bad mouth you because they didn’t get what they want. STAY STRONG. Please, don’t let those types of people break your spirit.
BUT DON’T BECOME JADED
I know what you’re thinking: “EK, you’re 27. You can’t possibly be jaded by the world.” I’m not; but it would have been very easy to become jaded after my first few years in business. It’s so hard to be your own boss and own your own business. You have people from all corners telling you that you’ll fail, trying to get something for free, telling you well we can go here and get this. Do your own thing, take mini vacations in books, get out of your own head. Have a 30 second dance party. Don’t dwell on what other people say to you because you know what? They’ve forgotten what they said as soon as it exited their mouth.
TAKE A DAY OFF
Brene Brown said that “It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” We live in a society where exhaustion, mile long todo lists, and involvement in countless extracurriculars are the norm. But I am here to tell you if you don’t take a minute for you. You will not be able to serve those around you. You have to fill your cup or sooner or later you won’t have anything left to give. Or you know, you’ll fall into adrenal fatigue, gain weight, be cranky and tired all the time, and a huge bitch to everyone around you. Take some time off; play, rest, recharge so you can continue being a badass.
Have I learned all there is to learn? Absolutely not. I never want to stop learning and gaining insight. But I do hope that if you’re starting a business or even if you’re not, you take away a few pieces of advice from this.
What have you learned that you wish you had known sooner? I want to know!