Two years ago, I stepped out in faith to be a full time photographer. There were so many things to figure out… tax paperwork, accounting items, marketing ideas, client communication, networking, time management… It made my head spin! But two years in, I have learned so much about myself as a human, employee (by myself ha!), family member, friend, business owner and church member. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, what motivates me. What helps me. What I need from people. How I need to challenge myself. Who I need to be around. I hope these 10 tips help if you own your business!
1. Get an accountant.
No questions about it! There would be no way I would have peace of mind doing my own monthly taxes without an accountant! I’ve loved the experience of handing off documents and information to my accountant for them to do what they do best. I’ll be honest, math’s never been my strong suit, so I chose to hire a professional! Click here to find an Dave Ramsey-approved accountant in your area.
2. Meet new people.
This seems obvious! But it can be easy to stick with your same friend group and become a hermit. As a business owner, it’s important to always be meeting new people. Try different coffee shops, test out coworking spaces, meet people at church, visit another church’s evening service, connect with people on social media… There are so many ways to meet people.
3. Serve your clients well.
If you serve clients poorly, your business probably won’t last too long. Give, give, give. Serve, serve, serve. Determine that in whatever season with whatever product you’re selling, that you will serve people well. This will pay dividends for business down the road!
4. Communicate effectively and clearly.
The wealthiest people in the world make their finances uncomplicated. You’d think that with how much wealth they’ve acquired, they’d have a very complicated financial plan. But no, they keep it simple, and that contributes to their success. The same goes for business owners and communication! Keep it simple and straightforward.
5. Work at your craft.
One thing I’ve always prioritized is photographing. I’m a photographer, so it makes sense, right?! There are areas I consistently want to grow in, so I set up mini shoots, ask friends to help or experiment in my house. It takes creativity to come up with ways to learn on your own, but it’s worth it to increasingly enjoy your work as you get better at it.
6. Surround yourself with people who will be your coworkers.
This is so important, especially if you work for yourself! Over the past two years, I’ve tried to be intentional about scheduling coffee and work dates with photographer or wedding industry friends. It can get lonely, so surround yourself with people who understand your job.
7. Be disciplined with your time.
Before I dive in, let me clarify that I am always learning this! Motivation and discipline are hard especially in slow seasons when you work alone. I’ve had to put standing appointments in my calendar to get me out of bed, moving and working effectively. If I want to hang out with a friend, I make sure to schedule it after work hours. Want to write 10 blog posts in a day? I buckle down, then reward myself with a walk outside or some coffee. Being disciplined sometimes means including incentives!
8. Set work/life boundaries.
There have been many seasons where I’ve worked 60-70 hour weeks and felt exhausted. If you love your work, hours can fly by and suddenly it’s 11:00 p.m. and your eyes are glazing over. Where did the time go!? Even if you love your work, though, setting work hours will save you. Of course, there will always be a busy season throughout the year, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Whether you need to carve out an afternoon a week for cleaning, resting, getting your nails done or going on a walk, make it a non-negotiable standing date with yourself! People can easily encroach upon your time if you let them.
9. Coffee. Lots of it.
I work from a coffee shop almost every day because I love being around people. As an extrovert (or introverted extrovert… I still can’t decide!), having bodies in the same space as me is important. I love the feeling of being in the community and having the ability to share the Gospel as I work.
10. Continue education.
I’m always watching one course or another about marketing, business building, shooting in different types of light and client experience. Like number 5, “work at your craft,” it’s so important to always learn! Find a podcast that inspires you, attend a conference that will light your fire or start a group of peers in the same boat who can provide education. My favourite conference was the Showit United Conference in 2019!