My journey as a photographer has run side-by-side with my growth as a business owner. I’ve written before about some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my business, which is where some of my growth has sprouted, but not every lesson needs to be learned the hard way.
No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial path, I hope you can take inspiration from where I’ve been and how I’ve improved. Keep reading for five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur.
Lesson #1: Seek Harmony, Not Balance
We are always told to “find balance” in our lives. But every time you add something to one end of the teeter-totter, the other end tips up. It ends up being a constant drain on our energy to be balancing back and forth, back and forth.
So instead of balance, I encourage you to seek harmony. Carve out pockets of time for the passions you care about, intermingled with work, family, and self-care, so everything gets along well on the playground. Let go of this notion that you must be perfectly in balance - instead, focus on finding harmony.
Lesson #2: Nurture Your Current Clients
It’s getting harder and harder to stand out on social media. I’ve shared before that your focus should be on quality over quantity, so you aren’t constantly “feeding the beast” - but here’s another way to think about it…
Where do your leads actually come from? Where does most of your new business actually originate?
Social media could certainly play a role in driving business. But I’m willing to bet that your BEST business comes from current clients and their referrals. That’s why it’s important to focus more marketing energy on nurturing your current clients vs. hustling to attract more attention from a cold audience.
Most of my lead generation comes from referrals. So evaluate where you’re spending your energy, and consider shifting more of your marketing efforts into nurturing the people you already have. This can look like an email newsletter, private events, personal outreach, thoughtful gifts, and much more.
Lesson #3: Pay Yourself
This is an extremely important conversation I have with entrepreneurs all the time… pay yourself. It looks different for every business, but here’s how I do it: For every dollar I make, I split it up - 30% into an account for taxes, 30% into overhead operating experiences, and 30% into my paycheck.
Why the heck would you be doing this if you weren’t getting paid? I know a lot of people face burnout because they’re not paying themselves, even for years. If you’re not paying yourself, your business is a very expensive hobby that takes time away from the people and passions you truly care about.
So, figure out a way to pay yourself.
Lesson #4: Hire Support
I recommend hiring a virtual assistant to take care of the day-to-day, routine, and administration tasks that you - as the CEO - do not need to do. Your energy needs to go into serving and connecting with your clients.
I work with Melissa Swink & Co., which is an amazing team that provides incredible support to me and my business. This backend support allows me to keep my CEO cap on, instead of worrying about doing all of these tasks by myself.
It’s a mistake I see all too often… entrepreneurs think they’re saving money by doing everything themselves, but really, they’re just diminishing their CEO role and limiting their capacity to grow and scale the business.
Lesson #5: Learn from Others in Your Industry
Every year, I hire a brand photographer for two photoshoots of myself. It’s a terrifying experience; I don’t like being on the other side of the camera at all. But this experience helps me understand how to help people feel more comfortable in front of a camera, how challenging it can be to plan outfits, and how difficult it actually is to look ahead and plan where my business is going to be in five years.
These are all things I ask my clients to do - so I need to put myself in their shoes. This experience helps me deliver a better service to my clients.
So no matter what industry you are in, consider finding someone else to learn from. Look at what’s in their contracts, see how quickly they respond to you, and evaluate how they make you feel, as a client. This is an exceptional way to learn and also to grow your network.
There you have it - five of the biggest business lessons I’ve learned. I cover more topics like this over on my LinkedIn, so go ahead and send me a connection request. I can’t wait to grow our networks together.