So I am about to get so real with y’all today – I am offering full transparency and I am dropping some cold hard truth on owning your own business. Along with 3 tips in how to be a better small business owner.
I know this post is going to make me uncomfortable and I am struggling to find the right words to put down. I feel that this is a huge dose of reality totally needed for those thinking of running and owning their own business. First things first, I wanted to mention that I have a legitimate business. I have a business license, I pay sales/income tax just like you do, and I report ALL of my income no matter what. An invaluable tip that I definitely recommend is that you legitimize your business. Like, do it yesterday.
I will start with what prompted this post. After recently filing my business and personal taxes for 2016, I was talking with my oldest sister Sarah (who was a tax guru for many years and helped me do my taxes the past few years). She was shocked by the large amount of expenses I had in 2016 for my business. As I review my 2016 figures, the cold reality is that I could not make a living on these numbers. No one could!
Granted, this was my first endeavor into doing full-service photography and I fumbled around – A LOT. But as a plus, I did a lot less work than I did in 2015 when I ran myself absolutely ragged. I was finishing up my masters degree, working two additional jobs, and constantly editing thousands upon thousands of images. I had stress-induced migraines and if I am being completely honest, I almost threw in the towel after that chaotic year.
However, I decided to reorganize my life, refocus my goals, and create new priorities.
I wanted to offer full transparency not because I want to discourage you from becoming a business owner and launching your own incredible business. That is definitely not my intention. I am giving (probably unsolicited) advice and hoping to shed insight on the reality of being a small business owner that I didn’t know before I launched my own business. Boy, do I wish I had this info.
So here are a few tips from one entrepreneur to another (or if you are just curious in what it is like to run a small business!):
- You will need to understand that your role is so much more than the primary position (i.e. photographer). I don’t think I truly understood that concept when I first started. Today, I am an accountant, graphic designer, book keeper/business manager, marketing director, customer service representative, treasurer, CFO, CEO – pretty much every title in the book, I had to teach myself and assume that role. If you become overwhelmed, outsourcing will be your best friend. Hiring an accountant or purchasing management software is sometimes a smarter investment than fumbling around trying to learn something. But on the flip-side, you will spend $$$ on those services.
- Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Y’all, this is my biggest struggle. I am currently writing this post at 11:00pm on Sunday night. But I have set some boundaries where I have more time off to do what I want. Finding the balance between work and home is so vital to your physical and mental health. Again, remember my comments on my 2015? Stress-induced migraines are not a joke.
- Be confident in your work and your pricing. Value yourself, your products, and it will be reflected to your clients. I understand that I am more pricey than other photographers in my area. I am well aware of the fact that I could not afford my own services myself. In short, I decided that I am not going to undervalue all of the work and investment I put into my business. Yes, I have lost several lovely clients this past year and it hurts deeply. But it is a reality of owning a business. I cannot make everyone happy and I think what a lot of business owners forget (myself included) is I need to make sure I am happy in my business. I think that mind-blowing statement is pretty important. Reread it.
want need to be happy in my business.
Why in the world is that such a hard concept to wrap my head around??? Is it wrong of me to want to get paid appropriately for my artwork? The short answer is no.
This year, my goals are to increase my income while reducing my expenses and workload. It is my dream to create an incredible experience from a prospective client’s initial contact all the way to the final delivery of their gorgeous artwork (and then some!). I want them to want to experience the SamiM Photography portrait experience. To feel completely spoiled, valued, and heard. To feel like they matter and that they don’t mind investing in a quality experience.
So thanks for sticking with me – through this blog post and through 2016. I am hoping my 2017 is the best year yet. As always, leave your questions and comments below! Sharing knowledge is such a privilege. We are all in this together. #CommunityOverCompetiton
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