How Did I Decide to Go Full Time: Burlington Photographer, Holden Beach Pictures

When I meet someone, they always ask “what do you do?” I say “I’m a photographer” and then usually I get this look of oh yeah…I know you, you have a DSLR camera and take pictures for friends.   Then I explain that I’ve been full time for close to 8 years and that I even now support my family (while my husband is in school)  Then I get a second look of “oh wow..that’s cool”  and it is.  It’s the most amazing thing.

I recently attended a conference for creatives and as I was sharing “my story” with someone…someone who is considered one of the “rock stars” in our industry, he listened attentively and then said “wow…I’ve never heard such a story, that is amazing”

Over the next few post, I’m going to share more about my story and all the ups and downs of owning and operating your own busienss and all the lessons that I’ve learned…as there are many!  But first, I’m answering the question

How did you know it was time to go full time?”  For me, it was truly that things fell into place.  I was working a job that I just didn’t love…I was at a church and though I loved working in a church environment, my heart was aching as I so longed to do what I was created to do. I struggled with my attitude and being thankful for a job.  I struggled as I wanted  to develop my art more and I desperately wanted to be my own boss lady.  I had such big ideas and dreams, but the fear of leaving a steady income was so present.

Then I lost my mom in a terrible auto accident.  It was tragic as you can imagine but it taught me one HUGE thing.  Life is SHORT!  REALLY short and we never know what the next day holds.  So with some of the inheritance that I got from her estate and the support of a wonderful husband I gave my notice.

People ask me what was the “turining point”? it was when I knew I couldn’t stand one more day …not because I didn’t like my job, but because I knew I had a greater purpose and I was suffocating.   Every day I wanted to get up and create and I couldn’t do it.

Did I have a money in the bank to cover my salary?  Yes, I had almost 6 months of my salary saved.  I didn’t want to use it, but I knew that I probably would need it.  And I did!  I used it to really establish a brand, marketing materials, and some gear that I knew I needed.  It was scary but we managed.

Did I have a plan?  This is probably where I failed.  I didn’t have a written plan.  I knew that my business was growing and that in order to take it to the next level it was going to take more work…but I didn’t have a written plan and this is one thing that I would change.  A couple years later I did a business plan, but I should have done this before I left my day job.  I certainly didn’t spin my wheels, but it would have been great to have some pretty defined goals and ways to get there.

I tell people I coach that usually fear is the number one thing that keeps us from taking the leap.  Yes you need to be wise, but don’t let fear keep you stuck.  If you have a plan, and you truly making an income at where you are, and you feel you have the tools and ability to work a busienss then it’s probably time.

Things to have in place before you take the leap?

  • Insurance…make sure you don’t give that up for the sake of going full time.  Insurance is important and there are loads of creative ways to be insured self employed, but make sure you are covered.
  • Are you making  a profit part time?  meaning after all your expenses and taxes are you still in the black?  if not, it’s probably not time to take the leap
  • Do you have support?  You need to make sure your family (spouse) is on board.  You don’t want it to ever be a source of contention.  You want your family to believe it as much as you do that you can make this work.  If you are on different pages, think about some counseling or even financial planning to figure out where the disconnect is and then address it.
  • Plan!  Go ahead and develop a business plan.  You can find samples online but make sure you have an honest and real plan for your self so that you know exactly how you are going to be sustainable
  • Community:  Find a community of other small business owners so that you can have people to talk shop with…people who have been exactly where you are and whom you can bounce ideas off of.
  • Education:  taking a course or two on small business could always help.  I tell people all the time, I spend 90% of my time doing the “business” part of what I do and 10% being creative.  So having some knowledge would be super helpful.

Things that shouldn’t hold you back

  • Fear:  healthy fear is good as it will keep you motivated, but don’t let it paralyze you
  • Naysayers:  There will always be negative people or people who “don’t get it”  don’t let them influence you.  Yes you want wise counsel, but people who truly don’t want you to succeed or who are the doubters…you will have to over come and silence their voice in your life
  • Every little detail:  You will never have EVERYTHING in place…have a plan, but then work it out.  If you wait for every little detail to be sorted out, you will never take the leap.
  • Finances:  So, I know above I said that you need to make sure you can cover your expenses, but there are always things that you cant “afford”  I am a true believe that you can afford just about anything that you want to…it may mean sacrifices, but you can do it and the fact that you may not be totally covering your current salary right off the bat doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.

Id love to hear your stories or questions about going “full time” and if you are interested in one of our coaching sessions, then check those out here.

Switching gears…

this little pumpkin has been in front of my camera several times as she’s a Lullaby club baby plan member.  You can see her amazing newborn session here and her 5 month session here.  Yes she has a ton of hair and I LOVE IT!  This session, mom brought a coat and dress that she wore as a baby…just precious.  One of my all time favorite shots is featured today…can you guess which one?

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