5 Things You Should Know Before Starting Your Own Business: Chapel Hill Senior Photographer

I was sharing with a friend of mine about how no one ever tells you that owning your own business can just plan suck sometime. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I love what I do…I was meant to do what I do….there is nothing that I could do that I could be happier. However, it is the hardest thing you will ever do. Please hear me…it’s hard…if you do it right, if you do make the hard decisions etc, it’s hard. So I’m going to be really honest today! Someone needs to share with you (those of you who think, I’m going to open up a boutique, or I am going to try to sell my yummy goodies, or I’ve gotten a lot of feed back on my pictures so I think I will try to make money by being a photographer)

So while this will be honest, I do it because I wish that someone had just gave me a heads up…that they would have said “please look and consider these things” If you are in the beginning stages of business …really look at all that negatives…as those are the things that will try to rob your joy, that you will most likley argue with your spouse about, that will keep you up all night…

1. One man shows stink: When you are a small business owner, especially in the beginning, you are often a one man show…you have to do it all. This means, you have to be good at SEO (search engine optimization) you have to know how to market, you have to be good at social media, you have to be a creative thinker as well as be good with the details, you have to provide the service, you have to be the project manager, you are the finance manager, you are the product specialist not to mention the creative brains behind everything. So many hats, and it can get so overwhelming and you get to the point where you do so many things well..but not GREAT. It’s hard to do everything yourself. I would recommend that if you were to invest in anything…that you invest in building a team. Poeple who are experts in the areas you need. Don’t try to learn SEO…hire someone, your results will be well worth the cost. If you are not good at details, hire a proofer or someone who is. I have had to learn this BIG time this year. As we have grown so much, its so much better for us as a whole, if I’m doing the things that I’m good at and the team can carry out the things that they are best at. But that is hard…most of us feel that we can’t afford a team, we have no choice but to be a one many show…but that just stinks.

2. It’s 24/7: As much as we talk about balance, or we strive for times away, it’s nearly impossible to turn it all off. If it isn’t…then you probably should not be a business owner. When I’m on vacation, even if I’m unplugged (which is coming in a few weeks thankfully) I still can’t turn my brain off. I try…I really try…but my mind is always thinking about my business…my baby. I often lay awake excited about a new project…my mind is never truly free from Sara-Anne Photography. It’s always thinking of new ways that I can grow, improve, do things better etc…and while that isn’t always bad…when you need a break, you can’t get one!

3. It can be lonely: I know you might think…that doesn’t matter, but it does. As no one truly can understand where you are. If you are blessed to have a partner..(maybe your spouse) that’s great, but even then, people just don’t get what its like. I have purposed myself this year to really focus on relationships with other small business owners. Your friends don’t understand…they just can’t comprehend what it’s like to have all that weight to carry. They can’t understand when you say “I’ve pulled three alnighters this week” they don’t understand why? That it’s because of your huge sense of responsibility to those you serve that you just have to. When you are at the pool with friends and then get a call that you have to run to the restaurant because you are out of ice….it’s hard to understand the urgency of that. When you feel the walls caving in and you think you will never climb out, and someone stops you and says “wow, I see you are so busy…that’s awesome” it’s so hard to not say “not really” so it can be so lonely. If you are in the beginning stages of this game…make sure you surround yourself with friends…friends who are also business owners. It’s vital.

4. Costly: So I don’t need to tell you that while yes owning your own biz can be profitable, it often is never as profitable as you might expect. Just picture this…you are a mom who has started to take pictures (I am using this as it’s my industry and I get it) and then you think, okay I’m pretty decent at this, I’m going to start doing this to make some extra money. So you start advertising on Facebook “Sessions for $125” well then your friends see this and they say “wow, that’s awesome, I want to book one” then during the fall you end up booking 10 per weekend because your price is right and because everyone wants that. Well then you have booked all your weekends during the fall…missing your childs soccer games, that time to the mountains, that weekend getaway with your hubby. You are exhausted so you start missing church and date nights all because you are trying to make some extra money…at what cost. It’s costly in so many other ways other than $$$ it take so much away from your family, from your friendships and even your health (yes my health has suffered from my job) So make sure it matters…make sure that you can truly afford it. I have counceld so many small business owners about this…make sure that when you lay your head to rest…that you truly feel that you have counted the cost and it was worth it!

5. You Have to Be the Bad Guy: Always…there is no one to pass that along to. When you set up policies and procedures (which you need) and a client issn’t following them, you are the one that has to remind them of those. When something goes wrong with an order, you are the one that has to fix it. Yes you may have someone to help you, but ultimately, it relies and falls back on you! True story: This summer I lost some clients images…it was devastating…they are just gone. I spent countless hours and money trying to recover them..No luck…they were precious images, they were beach sessions, most of all they were precious memories for my clients that I could never get back. So after nights and many tears agonizing over it..who do you think had to tell these amazing clients of mine? That’s right ME…it wasn’t anything that I could pass on to anyone else. (though I wish I could have) it wasn’t something I could just jot in an email…I had to painfully (with a lot of prayer) call my clients and tell them the “bad news” So please hear me…as a business owner..if you are doing things right…you will have times when you have to be the bad guy…and it stinks, but it’s part of it.

6. You are Responsible: So when things go wrong…really wrong you are responsible. It’s your name. When my camera broke in the middle of a session, I had no choice but to get a new one ($3000) when I realized that I needed different equipment for the projects at hand (new glass at $2800) I had to purchase it. When my heat billet the studio hit an all time high of $400 per month during the winter…I have to pay it. When an employee calls and says I can’t come and do that order today, well then I’m responsible….I’m responsible for EVERYTHING! no getting around that, and that in itself is stressful.

So while I want to be completely honest about the hard things…I do want to say again, that I love what I do. This summer has been one of those summers where I have experienced much more of the above that I have in the past..you know “when it rains it pours” type thing…but that means that I’m growing, it means that I’m doing things right, it means that the pains of owning your own business will be followed by many joys. I have realized that season come and go…not just in nature but in business too…for me this just happens to be a season where I have had to be the bad guy, where the responsibility of my job has been heavy on my heart, where there have been times of loneliness because I’ve been traveling so much…but I know that it’s ALL worth it. It is.

I love love love our Teen Shoots….and this beauty was simply a joy to work with.  She was celebrating her sweet 16 and the teen shoot was a part of the celebration!  We are doing it again (we meaning Katy Doss my fabulous hair and make up artist) So if you are interested in joining the fun, having your make up done and getting some great pictures in the process…check it out here!

Thank you sweet Caris for allowing us to celebrate with you and for being such a joy to work with!  We love your pictures and hope you do too!


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