We all have a specific journey we're on. Mine looks different then yours. Yours looks different then the next person and so on. Beth, wrote this really great post the other day about her journey and it really resonated with me. Starting off in our business journey is hard, no matter where we are or where we start. Even after we get started things can be hard, we get scared, we get nervous, and we doubt what we're doing.
Do you want to know a secret about me? When it comes to business and sometimes when it comes to new things in general, I need my hand held. I need someone to come along side me and help me figure things out. I need someone to come along side me and encourage me along the way. Sometimes we need our hand held and that's totally okay. That is why we have community. We weren't meant to go through our journey's alone. My very first business was in 2009, when I started my portrait photography business... I started another business in 2013 when I opened an Etsy shop. I learned a lot during both of those business endeavors and I have learned even more as a styled stock photographer.
If you are on the cusp of your business journey... if you are just getting started... if you are just dipping your toes in and you were wishing you had someone there with you to hold your hand, then you're in the right place.
BE PROFESSIONAL AS YOUR ARE BECOMING PROFESSIONAL
In any industry, especially if you're a photographer, lifestyle blogger, shop owner, calligrapher... nearly any creative field that you can enter... you have to be professional as you are becoming professional. Think about it this way. You are brand new to the photography industry. You are working hard to build your portfolio and build a client base. Most of us will begin, but till feel inadequate, because we're still in the practice of our craft. But here is the great thing. You can be professional regardless of where you are at in your journey. As you start your biz journey focus on being professional as you grow as a professional.
VISUALIZE HOW YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS TO FIT INTO YOUR LIFE
No body starts a business wanting to work 60 hours a week and run themselves into the ground. What we often forget when we begin our business journey is the importance of developing a business that will support our lifestyle. When I opened my first shop in 2013 I knew I wanted to work for myself, but I didn't think through how my business would fit into our lives. I didn't know how I would fit into my business and what it would look like if my business grew. Fast forward to today and I have spent a good amount of time thinking about and developing my business in a way that works for our lifestyle. I still have plenty to learn and the business still needs to grow, but I know that I have to continue to develop my business as I go.
As you get started in your journey write out all the aspects of your business. What you want your business to be about. How your business will function, how your business will function without you, how your product will support your lifestyle and so one.
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CREATE A SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATING WITH CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS
A sure fire why to keep up with your clients and customers (and bonus: be professional) is by implementing or creating systems and templates for communicating with your audience. I have a variety of templates and systems in place that help me communicate with my audience. When I receive client inquires I have an email template that I can pull up, customize and send to clients. When people sign up for our email list they go through a system that sends them to a special thank you page and once their subscription is confirmed they receive a welcome email with their introductory styled stock.
Systems are ideal for allowing your business to run without you. When you come to a place where you can hire help you will already have systems in place that will ensure both your business and employees succeed.
CREATE A SYSTEM FOR YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
I could talk about systems for hours. My brain works best within systems and I know my business will work best within systems as well. Something that has really helped me stay organized in my business and in my creative process is creating systems for my day to day creative process. I have used a variety of tools to do this; Trello, Align, and even paper calendars. But there has always been something that has worked for me better; time blocking on Google Calendar. The systems in which my business functions are very predictable, which allows me to work within blocks of time. When I first started this process I would review my calendar each week and plug in time for each task. Over time I learned that I was completing the same tasks every week. I figured I might as well create a plan and system that looks the same every week. That way I could plug in my tasks and projects and they would take place on the same day every week. Here is a look at how my Mondays go...
- 9:00am - Emails
- 9:30am - Newsletter & Email Marketing
- 10:30am - Business Development / System Maintenance
- 12:00 - Lunch
- 1:00pm - Photo Session
- 3:30pm - "Open" - Any miscellaneous tasks that I have been putting off.
- 4:30pm - Emails
- 5:00 - Social Engagement
I love systems because once they are in place you don't have to over-think your schedule and things in your business won't fall through the cracks. Keep in mine this system might not work for everyone. Something that was important to my system was that I couldn't fill my day with the same thing. I knew I couldn't spend the entire 8 hours of my day shooting or doing business development. It was important for my system to create variety. That is how my brain works best. My brain stays more engaged when I add variety to my day. Create systems that work best for you. If time blocking isn't your forte, but lists are, then create a system with lists. The important thing is that you create a system that you can work from and succeed from.
SEEK THE HELP OF OTHERS
When I opened my first Etsy Shop in 2013, a part of me felt like I had to have it all figured out and if I was to be a professional I couldn't ask for help because that meant I wasn't professional. I was already feeling inadequate, I felt like asking for help made me even less of a business owner. But here is the thing. Every single one of us is figuring it out as we go. We're all asking questions and we all desire a team and community to go through this journey with. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions and seek help from others. Questions mean you are growing. Questions mean you are open to learning. Questions mean you are ready for someone to pour into you.
This year I treaded our taxes, there was a lot of business stuff going on with our taxes that I didn't understand and I needed help. This was one of those situations that I sought help. After I received the help I needed I knew so much more about my business expenses and taxes that I actually felt like I knew what I was doing, haha! ;) I also send emails to friends all the time asking them questions, and they are always willing to help me figure things out.
Starting a business used to feel like this big scary thing. But really, it's just a variety of small steps. You don't have to know every single thing to get started, you simply have to start. How are things shaping up in your business journey? What are some questions you are trying to figure out? xoxo. Samantha