For the past six months, we have been assisting with the planning and coordination of the upcoming, first-of-its-kind Rad Photographers' Retreat hosted by Christine Dopp of Natural Intuition Photography. We are so anxious to see all of this passion and hard work come together in our beautiful hometown of Waupaca, Wisconsin!
Next week, we will head to the Retreat on its penultimate day to meet all of its enthusiastic photographer attendees, hang out with and learn from them and other phenomenal guest speakers, and ultimately, style a beautiful celebratory 4-course dinner to round out the retreat. Having the chance to assist with passion-driven, vulnerable events like these has truly inspired us to give of ourselves and share our talents wherever we can, but it also got us thinking about ourselves and the INCREDIBLY vulnerable state we were in nearly one year ago.
That's right, in just a little over one week, we will approach our milestone ONE year in business (hallelujah!). We are SO far from considering ourselves educators on the subject of starting your own business, but thinking of these photographers and planning for the deep, vulnerable issues and overall goals that are slated to be addressed at this retreat, we couldn't help but write a quick note to anyone who might be considering taking the leap. There's a good chance that most of what we want to say will fall on deaf ears (and that's okay!), but even if one of our points reaches one potential small business owner, we think it's worth it! So, here goes our quick note:
First off: the fact that you are seriously considering diving off the deep end and hoping to swim in this crazy scary pool of "creatives" or "business owners" is, like, SUPER commendable. Be proud of that. Own it in a sentence or two at the next dinner party you're at. Try it out. It's a really big deal!
Secondly, dreamer, it is SCARY. We totally agree. You're basically taking your former persona of "I just bought a nice Canon but I think I could actually take nice pictures," or "I'm actually really crafty but only when there's wine," or, you might be like us, the "We're really good at being organized and sending emails and enjoy making pretty things," and you're trying to make it a VIABLE, profitable, and legitimate business, basically overnight.
You're afraid your friends or coworkers will laugh at you or think your new business is "cute." You're afraid that scary traffic meter on your website analytics might stay at ZERO, forever. You're afraid that you'll never have even ONE interested, paying client even though you just spent all this money to organize your company and build your website and now you have to crawl back home with your tail between your legs and figure out how to graciously close up shop with as little racket as possible.
Or you haven't thought of any of these fears and dove right in with no hesitation. That's totally possible too. BUT, we're willing to bet that you probably thought at least one of these things at some time. WE definitely did, at the very least.
We just want to tell you, Dreamer, that YOU SHOULD STILL DO IT ANYWAY. As long as your passion is telling you that it's the right thing to do, as long as you have evaluated your 1, 5, or 10-year goals and this idea keeps popping up; and as long as you kind of can't envision your life without your new business being a part of it, you should do it. Regardless of what your professional life, practical brain, or even your parents tells you, you should do it. And don't look back.
However, Dreamer, have a plan. Have a really solid plan. Consider your favorite "concept" of you (and subsequently, your business) and make that a reality. As long as you are passionate and true to you, and as long as you have a plan, you won't fail. You definitely will stumble, probably more times than you wish, but you certainly won't fail. Devise your plan, consider any shortfalls it may have, improve those shortfalls, revisit your plan again, then discuss all of it with a close friend and ask for critiques.
Develop your "elevator speech." Consider what your business card will look like as you hand it to a new contact at a networking event. Envision your website as people scroll through it. All of that is critical to your overall plan, and you definitely shouldn't slack on it. However, once you have that solid plan and passion for what you do, DO IT.
Lastly, Dreamer, and we can't stress this enough, take two, even three months before you plan to "launch," and set aside separate time for networking, coffee or happy hour meetings with others in your industry. Ideally, even, try to set a meeting with someone in your dream position or career. Shoot for the stars. Write up a list of questions, make a good first impression, and ask your mentors what they did to succeed. They may have a hard time finding a time to meet you given their schedules, but once you make a good impression and share your passion with them, they will absolutely do what they can do lift you up. We feel confident saying that.
If any of the above is wrong or totally off track, Dreamer, please let us know. We admit that we are nearly as new at this as you are. But, Dreamer, if any of the above works for you and encourages you to follow your passion, don't worry about letting us know. Just own it. We hope to see you on the other side - it's a scary, unknown place, but we promise, it's a really, really rewarding journey.
All our love,
M & K