It’s a rare Thursday morning when I’m at home and actually had a few moments to head to my favorite coffee shop (THE BLEND AND CO) in downtown located near my studio. I love stopping in there as 1. their coffee and parfait are awesome, 2. I love the atmosphere and 3. Holly, their owner is AMAZING! So I was chatting “shop” with Holly and we were talking about how important community is to our businesses and also to the growth of downtown. I was thinking about the fact that this week is our monthly Tuesday Together …which is a meeting for all creative entrapenures. It’s an amazing time of just getting together, talking business but most important building each other up and promoting Community over Competition. If you want to know more about TUESDAY’S TOGETHER or the RISING TIDE SOCIETY, check them out.
For me, community is huge! I started my business by truly being passionate about helping other small businesses, about building relationships, about helping even other photographers however I could….there really wasn’t anyone who did that for me, and I found it a lonely place, and was determined to change that. I set out, being very open to anyone who had questions, who needed help to wanted to bounce ideas off of…I even taught workshops and even did a FREE workshop…then I hit a brick wall…I made a huge mistake and it nearly closed my business, but in the midst of that, I found out how cruel the “world” could be. I blew it, but those around me wanted to see me crash and burn. It changed me…it made me super focused on ME and SAP rather than my community. Those circumstances made me afraid to be who I knew I was called to be. This past spring I attended the Creative At Heart conference…(awesome) and I went into it feeling 1. afraid that everyone would be judgmental 2. a bit skeptical as I was not new in my business, and I was looking for something different. It was a game changer for me! Not only did I gain a lot of valuable business knowledge, but I also was re-convicted to focus on Community …to look to my fellow “boss ladies” and to try to build those relationships and to not worry about the competition. HARD I know…not saying its easy, but the quote
A rising tide lifts all ships (JF Kennedy)
Truly spoke to my heart. I’m all about community. I know it’s hard…the struggle is very real. But if my fellow photographer is doing well and her business is thriving, in the long run, that’s better for me and my business!
So I truly believe in building relationships among small businesses. I believe it’s at the core of what will sustain us. Here are a few of my thoughts:
Business is often lonely and only another business owner can truly understand: Having those relationships with other small business owners is what is going to help sustain you through the rough patches. Hearing from another person say “yes, I have been there…I can remember when I truly went 3 weeks without a single inquiry” just helps settle your nerves…it helps to give you a peace. Being able to chat with someone about the struggles that you are going through is in valuable and you can not have those conversations without true relationships. I have come to know that I have some acquaintances (other small biz owners…that I can chat with) but then I have those that I know have my back..that I can truly turn to.
Cross Marketing: I can not tell you how invaluable this is. Being able to partner with other small business owners to create a cross market just benefits you both. If you can work together, you both benefit from each others circle of influences. So take for instance, KATY my Make Up Artist…we work together for the TEEN SHOOTS …not only is it super fun, but by doing this, she is exposed to all my clients and vise versa. Don’t you think that when someone needs a photographer..and they are a client of Katys, and they have seen all the work we have done together…that they are going to think about me? And, when I have a senior who needs make up for her senior session, of course I’m going to think of Katy. Its symbiotic! I was so excited yesterday as I was scrolling through my instagram feed and saw an styled shoot that was loaded of vendors from our Tuesday’s Together….Makeup Aritst, Event Planners, Stationary designer, Props, Baker etc….it was awesome! They are working together …and in the long run it will only help them all!
Resources: You may have this awesome idea, it’s been bouncing around in your head for a few weeks, but there is nothing like having a great idea, and then being able to share it with someone who can help you bring that to fruition or give you ideas. By building relationships, you have that sounding board…those other buisness owners who can say “that would be awesome” and then can say “have you thought about this?” or “you need to contact so and so” The resources that your other small business owners have is absolutly in valuable and can save you so much time, money and energy.
It’s contagious: People want to be a part of something bigger…they want to be a part of something that is working. When you build community among other small businesses, other small business owners take notice…and they want to jump in. It starts to squelch negativity. I have people all the time ask me “how to you manage with all the other hundreds of photographers” and I just answer ” I strive to be something that they want to be, so they want to jump on board” That’s not because of me or my skills, its because of the community that I have.
Knowledge: Let’s face it, we live in such a fast pace era…everything changes so quickly. Social media has changed tremendously in just the last year….how do you keep up with it all? How do you know what the best way to be productive, or the best accounting software is, or even the latest tax tips…it’s nearly impossible. But when you have a community, it is amazing how much you can learn from one another. So often, I will be sharing something with a fellow “boss lady” in passing…telling them what I’m dealing with, and they say “have you thought about this? it’s a new program that would be perfect for you…WOW! can I tell you how much that one tie bit of knowledge has changed things for me. We learn so much from each other and having those relationships in place just fosters that knowledge.
So build that community, work at building relationships with other small business owners, and foster Community over Competition.
I had the amazing pleasure of working with this sweet Class of 2017 senior. So much fun! Enjoy your images sweet girl and the rest of your senior year!