5 lessons I’ve learned in my first 4 months of business

I honestly thought it was far too premature to write this blog, like what have I got to offer, but then I sat down and really thought about it. Turns out I might have something to contribute after all, because the last 4 months have been a real game changer. I’ve gone from being a frustrated stay-at-home mum who’s sick of talking about starting a business, to a SAHM who started it up, got the cogs going, and is now considering childcare because the work has arrived. I had no idea what this year would entail and how much time I’d be able to invest, but so far, I’ve learnt lots and foundations are being slammed down. 

What’s been achieved so far?

  • Pinned down my style of photography.

  • Tackled weddings for the first time. I’ve photographed two so far with more bookings in the Summer. I’ve even taken bookings for 2020. MIND BLOWN!

  • Working with small local businesses on their brand photography and providing headshots.

  • Getting paid!!!

  • Imminently being published in a magazine on female empowerment (dream gig!)

Rachel Peru  - Actor & Curve Model

Rachel Peru - Actor & Curve Model

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So what have I learnt? 

1)   Connections make the world of difference

I knew I’d be limited initially to do important marketing things like writing regular blogs because I’m constantly needed for everything and nothing by little people. Also, I knew I didn’t want to go hard on the marketing because if it worked, a sudden influx of bookings and limited time would end in disaster. So my ‘slow and steady wins the race’ strategy has really focused on face-to-face networking so that firstly, I can get out the house, but more importantly, I can meet people in a real soulful way, planting little seeds of ‘value’ as we chat.

One event which has really helped with these local connections has been York Insta Meet. Every time I go, I meet beautiful people that fill me with hope and opportunity. Just thought I’d mention I’m photographing the next one on 21st May and tickets can be bought here. Also, just this week, I joined Mel Wiggins’ Assembly Members Community  which is a £15 monthly investment to share space with incredible women from all over the globe who support, champion and advise. Since I subscribed, Mel hosted a live fb chat about money which was dazzling. There were so many ‘penny drop’ moments that I felt like a real-life contestant on Tipping Point! Before you sign up to a group, take your time finding out who inspires and raises you up, then take the plunge. A group like this doesn’t cost the earth and will be one of the best business investments you’ll make. 

Made by Today  jewellery

Made by Today jewellery

Modelled by  Fran Charnley

Modelled by Fran Charnley

2)   Belief and value is everything

We all have superpowers that need shouting about. If we’re good at something, believe in yourself and put it out there. Say, ‘I can do this for you, what can you show/teach/give me?’ Growing a business is another kind of marriage, where your strengths and weaknesses become exposed, yet meeting like-minded people who want to build you up and share their knowledge has just been epic. Without a doubt, recognising my value and sharing that amongst women in particular is one of the reasons I believe this will work. 

A good friend offered me some constructive criticism on a brand shot I’d recently taken. Instead of taking it personally (this shocked me too), I took on-board everything she said because she wasn’t wrong, but neither was I - we simply had different viewpoints. She said something brilliant, ‘it’s good that we differ because it shows you have integrity and faith in your work which you totally should. Keep it forever, that’s what people will buy.’ These words have stayed with me ever since. Photographs are subjective, and opinions are rife but the only ones that matter are yours and your clients. Well-meant, motivational vs derogatory, harmful feedback is something to be aware of. So take on good advice, believe in yourself, make friends with your true value then share it.

Brand work with  Whittakers Gin

Brand work with Whittakers Gin

3)   Outsourcing

This heading is making me smirk because I’ve only just thought about outsourcing, and yet to act on it. This week, I viewed a great nursery and I’m waiting for the guts to call them to make it official. I want to start writing again, pursuing WORK and offering better client care, yet I always said I’d never put Silva in nursery before she was two. Juggling everything and turning into a martyr, just because of a self-made promise is poppycock. On a lighter note, I’m definitely getting a cleaner, and maybe an ironing service because domestic duties dull my spirit! Yesterday, my mother was joyfully hanging out my washing (and re-pegging mine) in such an orderly, happy way saying, ‘if you do it like this, you won’t need to iron anything,’ and I was looking at her thinking, ‘I’d love to enjoy this like you.’ But I don’t and if your time is better spent elsewhere, outsource outsource outsource (this last line is a serious pep talk so I call the nursery!) 

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4)   Share your achievements and learn from yours mistakes

Every shoot I do, I come away thinking, ‘you idiot – why didn’t you do this?’ My need to improve is incessant and annoying but totally necessary. Resting on my laurels just isn’t an option because I have so much to learn, both technically and socially. Being hard on yourself has to be a fleeting thing however. Learn your lessons and move on, that way the little man in your head saying, ‘you can’t do this,’ won’t win. I think it’s also good to celebrate achievements in a really positive way. It isn’t boasting – it’s hard work and showing that its paid off is inspirational.  

5)   Just you is fine. It’s more than fine actually!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, not everyone is going to see your value, or perhaps not warm to you, but it doesn’t matter. They are not your people. They are dust that needs to be carefully binned, because they’re banned from your brain. I’m still a WIP because I really care if I pretend see, ‘someone rolling their eyes at me’ (did they do it or am I being sensitive again?!) When you’re talking and someone walks off, maybe they’re just really busy and it’s got nothing to do with you. They’re definitely not bored with your, ‘guess how many germs are on a petrol nozzle’ story (yes - this was me at a wedding recently!) I promise I’m a tad more exciting than this, but the real you, however vulnerable, strong, silent, weepy, talented, honest is the one that needs to show up. Authenticity sells and people trust you implicitly if they see you’re straight as a dart. 

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So that’s it - my 5 points now exist, and I hope they’ve given you some relief, a little push and something to chew on. I’ll be putting together a newsletter this month full of inspiration and what’s happening in my world - more of the real, less of the polished! If you’d like to be in my orbit, you can do so here, or at the top right of this page.

Lastly, if you’ve got any tips for beginner businesses like me, I would LOVE to hear them.

Have a beautiful (chilly) bank holiday! x