My husband asked me this question the other night, and I really took a step back to think about the biggest lessons I have learned in business so far.
The 3 biggest mistakes I've made in business:
1. I bought stuff to give me confidence.
My first year of business was filled with nerves, and basically this boiled down to a lack of confidence. So I invested in my business by buying things I thought would make me a better photographer--like online education from people who were never invested in my success.
I purchased gear like the pros use, but didn’t really understand how to use it.
I bought tickets to expensive conferences because I thought this is what made photographers great.
The real value in all this, however, was learning this lesson: being amazing at anything has less to do with your gear, and a whole lot more to do with how you connect with people. This is when my photography started to become about people’s stories, and then people responded.
-The nutritionist recovering from body issues who wanted to hide her pregnancy during her shoot, and ended up literally blossoming into a whole new version of herself during our photoshoot.
-The widow and single mother who had lost her husband a year ago, and wanted to create a restaurant where everyone in the community would feel welcome as a way to honor family.
-The wire artist who created a business to spread love after experiencing the loss of a child.
The reality is stuff doesn’t give you confidence, YOU give you confidence, and people connect with this honesty over perfection.
2. I checked things off a list.
It makes sense right? Businesses are supposed to GROW and MAKE LOTS OF MONEY, so I pushed myself. I worked until the wee hours, I pumped out proposals and content to make more of everything.
Really though at the heart of it, I was just checking things off a list I felt I had to do to keep up. I snapped at my kids because they were in the way of building my business. “More”, however, wasn’t really growing my business from an authentic place. “More” was just churning, and I was losing my voice in the middle.
So I stopped churning, and gave my voice a microphone. I asked myself what I love about photography, and stepped back. The funny thing I discovered is I actually love the stories, and the camera is just a tool.
Now I nurture clients and help them find what sparks their business, and it’s a completely different feeling. There is quality over quantity. I am part of a team with the brands I photograph, and we celebrate wins together.
3. I stopped taking out my garbage.
During the week we all accumulate garbage, and life just works better when we make time to fill up the trash cans and wheel them out to the curb for the garbage man to dispose. Just like garbage, all the negative feelings and distractions of life can pile up and get stinky.
I felt like this was causing a lot of anxiety and stress in my head. My garbage can was overfilling, and I was cutting corners with time management, so I stopped taking out my garbage. The result? My energy was not clear. I had a harder time being creative, and in a business built on creativity this was s-l-o-w-i-n-g me down big time. My fuse was short.
So I created a practice to start taking out my head garbage. This can look like daily meditation (I am a big fan of Kenneth Soares on YouTube), journaling, forest bathing, reading, baking, creating art, yoga, playing, getting lost, and physical activity. The practice of clearing my garbage has been a game changer for me, and allowed me to develop a stronger relationship with my intuition too.
Truth can have sharp teeth, but you actually get better when you shine a light on your truth--and this can be far more beautiful than perfection. It’s a fine line to show your best or share your mistakes, but no matter how many followers you have, how long your resume is, or the shape of your body, your story is still your biggest strength.