Theodore Roosevelt once said,
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…
This has been true many times in my life. In fact, the areas of life where I have found the most success and happiness have required the most effort. However, the effective application of great efforts, dedication, and sacrifice yields great rewards.
For someone who works full-time (that includes being a stay-at-home mom) and has a family, and spends a lot of time focusing on the art of photography, finding time to build a photography business can prove challenging. Precious time is limited and already stretched across multiple demands, and in order to be successful, a business needs time and dedication. A small business owner must dabble into many roles, including accounting, legal, client relations, business development, marketing, sales, as well as continuing education so that the services and products offered remain competitive. It may seem overwhelming, and sometimes it can definitely be that way. However, it can be done, even for someone who feels as though every second of the day is already assigned.
If you think you may want to start a photography business, then it is crucial to take some time to do some soul searching. Is business really for you, or are you content as a hobbyist? What are your reasons for considering going into business? Are you passionate about helping other people record memories of some of the most monumental times of their lives? Are you hoping to build your business so that you can leave the traditional workforce and have more control over your hours? Whatever your reason, remember your business building years WILL require sacrifice. Your business WILL take you away from your family. So be sure that your business is worth it. Maybe you’re the type of person who needs to try something before you can decide whether or not it’s for you. If that is the case, be sure to set checkpoints for yourself every few months. Put them on your calendar and schedule some time to truly evaluate whether your vision for yourself has changed at those times.
2. Set specific goals
Once you have decided you want to move forward with starting a photography business, it is a good idea to set goals for yourself. Think about both long-term and short-term goals. Take a few days to do some thinking and answer questions such as, where do you want your business to be in 1 year? 5 years? Be realistic, but don’t underestimate your capabilities. Imagine all obstacles removed from your life to achieving your dream. How does that picture look?
Goals sometimes need to be adapted as circumstances or even desires change. Changing a destination isn’t inherently negative. However, it is wise to always have a destination in mind. This destination will set the tone for every other decision you make regarding your business, and then your reality will determine the path you take to reach that destination. You may need to make pit stops along the way, sometimes by choice and other times out of obligation. You may even decide to take the scenic route. In fact, go ahead and plan in time to take that scenic route, savoring the beauty of the world around you. But always know that end goal, even if it’s continually evolving.
Don’t forget to set small, easily accomplished goals for yourself as well as larger goals. Small goals translate to small victories, and sometimes that small victory can be exactly what is needed to keep you focused and feeling as though you are making progress.
Once you have determined your goals, prioritize them. What is most important to you? What goal should you tackle first? What areas of your life come before your goals for your business? When time is limited, it must be budgeted wisely. How much time do you realistically have available to spend on your business? Allocate that time according to your priorities. When you learn to use time effectively, you’ll be amazed at how much more you are able to get done in a day.
Sometimes it may feel as though your life is getting in the way of your business building priorities. Maybe it’s a tiny hand in yours, leading you to the crayons and puzzles when you’ve had a long day at work and need to update your marketing materials. Maybe it’s a sick spouse or parent who requires your care. Maybe it’s a friend who is facing a life crisis and needs your support. Don’t let those things discourage you. Be the parent/spouse/child/friend that you need to be. You’ll never regret that.
4. Quality over quantity
Quality over quantity can be extended to nearly any aspect of your life, but particularly when building a part-time business. Do your research and choose your resources wisely. When it comes to education, for example, choose one great class (CMUniversity is a great place to look!) rather than many mediocre classes. And when you do invest in that one good class, dedicate yourself to it wholeheartedly! Get everything you can out of it. Make sure it adds quality to your business.
Keep this same advice in mind when spending time with your family. When you are having family time, give them your full attention. When you are able to do that, your family will be more understanding when the time comes that you need to put in extra hours for your business.
No one can do it all and do it all well. Know your strengths, and focus your attention there. Don’t be afraid to outsource the rest. Hire an accountant to do your taxes and set up spreadsheets to make your bookkeeping more organized and efficient. If your inbox is full, hire an assistant to help monitor your email account and answer client inquiries in a timely manner. Hire a graphic designer to help with your logo and branding. Please don’t try to do it all. It is worth it to invest money to hire experts in these or any other area you choose, as that will free your time to do more of the things you love, like taking photos. The more efficiently your business is run, the more volume your business will be able to handle.
Running a part-time business is certainly no easy feat. However, with a bit of effort and organization, you can be a successful business owner and not lose your family or your sanity in the process. Once you’ve decided this is your dream, chase it completely, and never give up!